Contributed by former Journal Copy Editor Hailey Kaufman
In October, Missouri House Bill 1307 went into effect, increasing the mandatory waiting period between abortion counseling and procedure to 72 hours.
Supporters of the law argue the change provides women more time to make informed decisions about whether or not to abort their pregnancy. This argument tends to come from disdain for abortion, and in most contexts it implies abortion is an immoral path for a woman to take. Three days of consideration, then, might allow her to ruminate on her thoughts long enough for her to realize she was initially mistaken. The more time you spend thinking about your abortion, the more you’ll see how wrong it is.
Opponents of the law come from a different ideological place. For them, the issue is not in what manner a woman makes her decision, but whether the government is respecting the decision by allowing her to act on it.
St. Louis, a city hanging off the edge of Missouri, is the only place in the state where a woman can receive an abortion. Since she must consult with a physician in the same clinic she is to undergo the procedure, this means she must either stay in St. Louis for four days or come back to the city at a later date. Travel and boarding would result in incurring more expenses on top of the abortion fee, which could rule out an abortion as an option altogether. She might also choose to visit a clinic in a state where there is not a 72-hour waiting period, but this is assuming an out-of-state clinic is actually closer and more convenient for her.
Missouri could stand to look after adult women as ardently as it does unborn ones.
Two scenarios come to mind in which this legislation could actually result in circumstances pro-life advocates would find unfavorable. For one, a woman’s inability to stay in St. Louis for 72 hours could result in her returning for the abortion much later in her pregnancy, which could bring up more ethical concerns. Secondly, Missouri could see an increase in clinics that perform abortions in order to compensate for the unrealistic nature of the commute to St. Louis. Certainly these aren’t things anti-abortionists would like to see, but unfortunately restricting people’s access to abortions doesn’t result in fewer unwanted pregnancies or fewer abortions – it just makes the ones that do occur more troublesome than they already are.
If pro-life advocates are trying to make abortions more difficult to obtain in order to compensate for their being legal, they’re succeeding, but the tactic is transparent and cruel. If it is legally within a woman’s rights to get an abortion, then it is our legislators’ responsibility to make the opportunity open to her, not passive-aggressively restrict her access. Proponents of the law have painted it as a service to women because it supposedly provides us with more freedom to think, when it really constricts our freedom by forcing us to wait.
For a person with a womb, making a baby is not like getting a degree. It’s not a process of going through the steps until a person materializes – it is a sacrifice of one’s freedom, health, safety and potentially one’s life. Anyone who has actually experienced the physical and psychological upheaval of pregnancy and childbirth can attest to this. Pregnancy is the process by which a woman’s body creates another body by allowing it to parasitize her insides. If a fetal parasite doesn’t count as part of her body, I don’t know what does.
To say abortion is inherently evil is to say a pregnant woman could potentially owe all of this to a baby she does not intend to have. No mistake is worth that prescription of responsibility to me. To support a woman’s freedom to have an abortion is to support her ability to protect and care for herself. Missouri could stand to look after adult women as ardently as it does unborn ones.