Criminalizing abortion doesn’t reduce incidence

OlympiaMarch 29, 2013 

Paul Ritter’s letter to the editor (published on March 7) was both misguided and ill-informed. The letter tried to make the case that abortion was a greater tragedy than gun violence by citing data from the Guttmacher Institute on the amount of abortions that have occurred since Roe v. Wade.

Comparing the termination of a fetus with the death of a human being is an unethical argument. Scientific data demonstrates that fetuses do not experience pain before 24 weeks – the timeframe that the majority of abortions occur. Most abortion cases involve weighing the quality of life of a woman, with the life of a being that has no capacity to feel.

If Ritter is fond of data from the Guttmacher Institute, then it would be wise for him to review a 2007 study by Guttmacher Institute and the World Health Organization. The results from this study show that criminalizing abortion does not decrease its likelihood; the only proven technique for lowering abortion rates is to make reproductive health services easily available.

Unfortunately, access to reproductive health services is something that may be made more difficult. The Washington Legislature is currently considering cutting Take Charge—a program that provides free birth control coverage.

Critics argue that the Affordable Care Act makes Take Charge redundant. However, many teens need the program because it protects their privacy from unsupportive parents. The program also covers emergency contraceptive and condoms – items that private insurance doesn’t.

We need to move forward on woman’s health, not back.

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