The Heated Controversy of Abortion in California

Of all of the issues Americans fight for or against, abortion is an extremely controversial and a broad topic of argument. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, abortion is defined as, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus”. Since 1973 when the Supreme Court legalized abortions, the debate has climbing and has yet to cease. Currently “50 percent of Americans now call themselves pro-choice, including 54 percent of women and 46 percent of men” (Toosi). The last time reportings of this nature were this high for pro-choice was back in 2008. I believe whether to perform an abortion or not is entirely situational, and the choice is 100 percent up to the woman; politics and funding shouldn’t play as large as a factor as is does in this day and age.

Before coming into this class, my knowledge on abortion was very limited and not at all complex. I do know that this is a huge controversy that many people have an opinion on. Whether someone is pro-life, those who oppose abortion, or pro-choice, those who advocate for legalized abortion, is entirely up to them, their background, and their beliefs. Middle school was around the time when I learned what abortion entailed, and I realized then how much debate this caused; from middle school on, I decided I would never write a research paper or essay on this topic. I was too afraid of my peer’s opinions or choosing “the wrong side of the debate”. This English/Political Science course has truly helped me break through my barriers. What really got me thinking about this topic was back in high school, all due to a television show. In high school, I was watching season eight of Grey’s Anatomy.  One of the main characters, Cristina Yang, decided to go through with an abortion. The husband of Cristina, Owen Hunt, urged her not to get an abortion because he desperately wanted kids. Cristina unilaterally made the decision to get an abortion because she had no interest in having kids. Owen supported her at first, but that support soon turned to resentment months later. . He soon cheated on her, trying to hurt her the way she hurt him by getting an abortion. It was clear that he was devastated by her choice to abort, even screaming at Cristina at a birthday party, “You killed our baby!” Even though this is a fictional storyline, the idea of abortion and how abortion impacts the mother, father and everyone else involved got me thinking about what abortion really is and all the factors involved. From the huge controversy it brings up, and the fact that it is so present in our media today, propelled my interest on this topic.

Over time, there has been a rich history in how abortion came to fruition. “Until the late 1800s, women healers in Western Europe and the U.S. provided abortions and trained other women to do so, without legal prohibitions” (Schnall). As the years passed,  the church and state slowly began to outlaw abortions; it was even a crime as well as a sin, forcing women to turn to illegal abortions. Reform came by the 1960’s when women began seeking out their rights on this matter. January 22, 1973 changed the lives for many women when the U.S. Supreme Court made its ruling in Roe v. Wade, that “only a pregnant woman and her doctor have the legal right to make the decision about an abortion” (Schnall).  Through the 14th Amendment, no state shall “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” (Gitelson), while the fifth section here states that Congress may enforce, “by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article”. From the 14th Amendment, it is fair to conclude that unborn children are persons under the law. For those seeking an abortion, there are several different programs that assist in this. For example, Medicaid is the federal health system “for the poor, aged, blind, and disabled which provides medical, hospital, and long term care” is funded by the federal government and state governments (Scarpelli). Only 15 states allow you to get an abortion through Medicaid, which includes California.  

There is so much to learn about abortions in California, yet there are a few key questions that are circulating in my head:

  • Who can perform an abortion in California?
  • How much of a role do politics play in abortions?

It is stated in the article titled, “Reproductive Health Matters”, that in addition to doctors, other healthcare professionals such as advanced practice nurses, nurse-midwives, and physician-assistants may perform abortions, through a law that was enacted in 2014.  It “was the only abortion policy that expanded abortion access, in a sea of policies designed to restrict abortion passed that year” (Freedman). This law gives more access to obtaining an abortion in California in a safer way. Planned Parenthood is “a trusted health care provider, a passionate advocate…that delivers vital reproductive health care and information worldwide” (Planned Parenthood). A woman can go there to talk about her options. In California, if you are a minor (under the age of 18), you must have your parents consent before a procedure may take place.

Donald Trump has made promises based on his anti-abortion views with the Hyde Amendment. “With a  longstanding policy, the Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds to pay for abortions for Medicaid recipients except in cases of rape, incest or when pregnancy endangers the life of the mother” (Swan). In addition, he wants to defund Planned Parenthood, but most of these state actions have been blocked in court.

While having a great deal of power, the president does not have complete control of everything; this is a myth “where voters believing in unrealistic presidential power” (Gardner) that many Americans succumb to. The United States of America has a system of checks and balances. Congress plays a key role is certain aspects in the White House. The president can choose what money is needed for certain departments and he can prepare a budget to submit Congress, but in the end, congress decides whether to vote yes or no on the proposed budget.

There is no middle ground when it comes to abortion, but we need to continue to allow woman to have safe and healthy way to carry out this procedure. This issue  is still here in this day and age and it so controversial and common. In fact, “3 out of 10 women in the U.S. have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old” (Planned Parenthood). I do not believe they will ever halt the allowance of abortions, and for me personally, I am pro-choice. I grew up Catholic and one of the disagreements I’ve had with this church is that they do not support abortion. I do not believe that science and legislation should determine our value as human beings. Each and every person brings to this earth their own experiences and we all have different journeys, and for me to say that someone cannot have an abortion when I do not know their background or experiences, is wrong. I only hope that Planned Parenthood and other organizations will continue to help woman in need.  In my opinion, the decision whether to carry out an abortion or not should be left up to the mother.  

The idea of abortion is not something to be taken lightly. Thousands of people a day make the choice whether to go through with one or not. There has been much history behind this topic, dating back to the 1800s, it is still relevant in our television and political campaign topics. California has its own rules and regulations on abortion making the issue more complex. I believe it is very simple for some to be against abortion, but never have to make the decision personally. Whether getting the procedure or not should remain the decision of the woman herself.

 

Works Cited

Ferris, Jonathan Swan and Sarah. “Trump Toughens Anti-Abortion Stance.” TheHill, 16 Sept. 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/presidential-races/296254-trump-strengthens-anti-abortion-stance.

Freedman, Lori. “Reproductive Health Matters.” Chico Meriam Library , http://www.sciencedirect.com.mantis.csuchico.edu/science/article/pii/s0968808015000063.

Gardner, Deborah  B. “Health Policy and Politics.” The 2016 Presidential Election: Reality vs. Myths, 2008, doi:10.4324/9781315586342.

Gitelson, Alan R. et al. American Government: Myths and Realities. New York, NY, Oxford University Press.

Parenthood, Planned. “Who We Are.” Who We Are, 9 Sept. 2016, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are.

Scarpelli, Craig. California in the American System. McGraw Hill, 2012.

Schnall, Marianne Marianne. “HISTORY OF ABORTION.” HISTORY OF ABORTION, Simon & Schuster Inc., http://www.feminist.com/resources/ourbodies/abortion.html.

Toosi, Nahal. “Pro-Choice Outpolls pro-Life for First Time in 7 Years.” POLITICO, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/05/gallup-poll-pro-choice-pro-life-118406.