The Dangers of Closing Off Safe Options
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Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this blog post are solely those of the author.
Spoiler Alert: This post discusses events in Call the Midwife Season 8 Episode 4.
“When we’re young there is always more to be embraced ….
more energy…. more joy, more opportunity to flourish.
We live life in forward motion—surging ahead, eyes aimed at the horizon.
And even hard labour and sacrifice feel worthwhile when offered up as a down payment and on the future.”
This episode dealt with a backstreet abortion and as a Modern Day Midwife – I felt angry and sad knowing that reproductive rights, for women, are still extremely challenging and that in the year 2019 be are back in the episode that we just witnessed. One of the most restrictive abortion bans in the United States was just passed on April 10th. In the State of Ohio Senate Bill 23 passed whereby abortions are banned after the detection of a fetal heartbeat. Providers that perform an abortion will be prosecuted with a fine of $20,000 and up to a year in prison – unless the procedure is done to save the life of the woman. There are no exceptions for incest or rape. It is expected that this will be challenged in a lawsuit regarding the constitutionality of this law. There is similar legislation in Arkansas, North Dakota, Iowa, Kentucky and Mississippi.
It is important to know that abortion occurs whether it is legal or not and that criminalizing abortion only leads to unsafe abortions and potentially fatal consequences. The World Health Organization reports that unsafe abortions are the third leading cause of maternal deaths. When access to safe and legal abortions is restricted people will seek out unsafe abortions and the subsequent injuries and deaths are preventable! Steps to avoid injury and maternal deaths begin with adequate sex education, access to effective contraception, access to safe and legal abortion, and medical care if required or needed. Access to legal and safe abortions is a human right. Decisions about your body are yours to make —it is called bodily autonomy. Forcing someone to go through with an unwanted pregnancy violates this human right.
In Episode 2 we met an elderly suffragette. Suffragettes wore white to their marches as they fought for women and their rights. The House Democratic women have been wearing white as a tip of the hat to these brave women signaling that they will continue to fight to advance our rights. I believe we are at a dangerous point in this country. Access to contraception is being restricted, access to abortions is being restricted and insurance for maternity care can be difficult to maneuver. We need to do more than wear white—we need social, gender, and reproductive rights to be realized. We need reproductive justice in this country.
“Some have no horizon left to run to.
Those left behind must walk on as best they can and things that were once part of the present and the future speak all too loudly of the past.
Do we lay them down or love them.
Let them live.
Love is never the only answer but it is always the best, the simplest, the most likely to withstand the test of time.
It is the solution we remember when the question has been laid down, all quarrels put aside.
Love is the beginning –it should be the final word.
There are always shadows but they fall behind us …. echoes but they fade upon the air.
We will sometimes forget - but not always – go forward then join.”
Katie Moriarty, PhD, CNM, CAFCI, FACNM, RN is a professor on faculty at Frontier Nursing University and a Certified Nurse-Midwife with WSUPG CNM Service at Hutzel Women’s Hospital in Detroit, Michigan. Katie serves on the Board of Directors for the American College of Nurse-Midwives as the Region IV Representative. Previously she was the Associate Director of the Nurse-Midwifery Education Program at the University of Michigan.
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