#StandingStrong for Reproductive Rights

Date: August 9th, 2018

Pat Paluzzi

I couldn’t help but be moved to comment on the wave of heavily Catholic countries now legalizing, or considering legalizing, abortion, as our country moves ever closing to banning it. When I read about Ireland’s recent success in legalizing abortion, or Argentina and Brazil’s upcoming rulings, I am reminded of why the United States legalized it so many decades ago.

As long as contraception is inconsistently available and imperfect, and sexual intercourse occurs without consent, there will be unintended pregnancies, and women will seek ways to abort them. Illegal abortions will occur, and women will die. Argentina cites between 400,000-500,000 illegal abortions annually, and Brazil cites over 200 deaths annually among the approximate 250,000 women seeking abortions. Unintended pregnancies, although declining, still occur all too often in this country—2016 average rate was 45/1000 women ages 15-44, and 112/1000 among our poorest women and girls—and they result in public health issues for individuals and communities alike. Why are we trying to increase unintended pregnancies?

Anyone reading this who identifies as ‘pro-life’ is likely thinking, ‘but abortion results in death too.’ And this is why abortion access must always be framed as an issue of choice and agency over one’s body. None of us know what is right for any girl or woman facing this most difficult of decisions, nor do we have the right to impose our values on them. Abortion opponents are not ‘pro-life’ but rather ‘anti-choice.’ If they were truly ‘pro-life,’ they would respect all life, including that of the pregnant woman and any other family members she leaves behind when she dies from an illegal abortion.

I find it truly remarkable that three heavily Catholic countries are moving toward recognizing this issue for what it is and doing what is right for their citizens while the U.S.—a country that is supposed to separate church and state—is regressing. If we continue to allow the current administration to impose their fringe ideologies on our rights to services (Title X, teen pregnancy prevention, abortion, etc.), we will be facing statistics similar to those of Argentina and Brazil.

The impending Supreme Court nomination provides an opportunity to fight for our rights. Reproductive rights, including abortion access, are critical to our overall health and well-being as people and as a Nation. This is not a time to be reticent, this is a time to be vocal and united. #StandingStrong

We would love to hear: what you are doing to protect reproductive rights?

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About the Author

Patricia Paluzzi, CNM, DrPH, President and CEO of Healthy Teen Network, has been active in the fields of reproductive, and maternal and child health for over 40 years, as a clinician, researcher, administrator, and advocate. Her clinical and content expertise spans the full scope of midwifery care, substance abuse, intimate partner violence, high-risk maternal child health (including pregnant teens), incorporating men into clinical services, and trauma-informed approaches.

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