[Vision2020] Catholic nations and the expansion of abortion rights
thansen at moscow.com
Thu Dec 16 05:04:11 PST 2021
Criminalization of abortion will not eliminate it. Criminalization of abortion will simply return it to back alleys and coat hangers. Safe abortions are a MUST!
Courtesy of today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News with thanks to Moscow’s own Palouse Pundit, Nick Gier.
Catholic nations and the expansion of abortion rights
It is supremely ironic that while some Catholic countries are leading the world in expanding abortion rights, some U.S. states have been restricting them, and the Supreme Court may soon end federal protections altogether.
After the initial briefing on Dec. 1 before the Supreme Court, it appears certain that there is a 6-3 majority to uphold the Mississippi law limiting abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for the mother’s health or fetal abnormalities, but no allowance for rape or incest. It is also possible that the justices will repeal Roe v. Wade entirely.
According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, “over 50 countries have liberalized their abortion laws in the past 25 years, including 20 countries that have removed complete abortion bans.” Only 17 nations now prohibit abortion completely, with no exceptions regarding the mother’s health, rape, or incest.
In April 2007, the Mexico City government voted 46-19 to decriminalize abortion, the first place in Latin America (except Cuba) where elective abortions are now legal for as long as 12 weeks. In 2021, Mexico’s supreme court ruled that criminalizing abortion is unconstitutional, and, now under the nation’s federal system, Mexico’s states will now develop their own laws.
Other Latin American countries have recently legalized abortion. They are Argentina, French Suriname, Uruguay and Guyana. They now join majority Catholic nations in Europe: Ireland, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Austria, Portugal and Hungary. The cutoff points in these and other European countries average about 13 weeks.
Attorneys defending the Mississippi law point out that at 15 weeks, the state is well within international norms. These lawyers, however, have neglected to acknowledge crucial differences between Europe and the U.S.
The key word is “elective,” those cases in which the woman can, within the weeks established by law, choose to abort without giving any reasons. Within this time period, as British hospitals instruct women, “the decision for an abortion is yours alone.” No one, not even parents or partners, need be informed.
On the other hand, “therapeutic” abortions are allowed with medical permission, and the cutoff points for these are much later in Europe. The conditions are threat to mother’s life, fetal abnormalities, and pregnancies that were determined to be the result of rape or incest. In 14 European countries, the woman’s “social or economic circumstances” allow doctors to “consider the potential impact of pregnancy and childbearing” (maps.reproductiverights.org).
Experts on European law filed an amicus brief against the Mississippi law. Including therapeutic abortions, they show that “abortion is permitted through at least 22 weeks of pregnancy in 37 states and through 18-21 weeks in a further three.”
These attorneys conclude that adopting Mississippi’s law “would place the U.S. at odds with the overwhelming consensus on abortion rights in Europe.” Furthermore, they refute the Mississippi attorneys’ claim that European countries recognize that the fetus has a right to life.
European women can go to their local hospitals and schedule an abortion, and they usually pay nothing for the procedure. In contrast, U.S. law prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions, and this restriction hurts poor women the most, who rely on Medicaid for their health care. In 2019, the Trump administration withdrew federal family planning funds from 900 clinics and offered to restore the money only if they stopped ending pregnancies.
Only one third of American abortions take place in hospitals. One major reason for this is that, according to the Fuller Project, “the number of secular hospitals fell between 2001 and 2016, but the number of Catholic hospitals rose by 22%.”
There are many tragic stories that finally led to the repeal, by a 66 percent vote of the Irish people, of one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Under the title “Her Heart Was Beating, Too,” Sarah Wildman writes about Savita Halappanavar, who came to an Irish hospital in 2012. She was just about to lose her 17-week-old fetus, and she was in immediate danger of dying. The doctors refused to intervene because the fetus still had a heartbeat. Needless to say, both died.
If Roe v. Wade falls, is this the future of pregnant women in “pro-life” states whose lives will not be respected or protected?
Gier is professor emeritus at the University of Idaho. Read his article on abortion at webpages.uidaho.edu/ngier/abortion.htm. Email him at ngier006 at gmail.com for sources and discussion.
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