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Reproductive rights: Charities advocating for all women internationally

In 1973 the Roe VS Wade case reached the supreme court and caused a shift in women's reproductive rights and the policies on abortion. A single pregnant woman called Norma McCorvey- who for anonymity went by the alias “Jane Roe”-, acted against the district attorney of Dallas, Texas, Henry Wade.

The Supreme Court disagreed with Roe’s assertion of an absolute right to terminate pregnancy in any way and at any time and attempted to balance a woman’s right of privacy with a state’s interest in regulating abortion. In his opinion, Blackmun noted that only a “compelling state interest” justifies regulations limiting “fundamental rights” such as privacy and that legislators must therefore draw statutes narrowly “to express only the legitimate state interests at stake.” The Court then attempted to balance the state’s distinct compelling interests in the health of pregnant women and in the potential life of foetuses. It placed the point after which a state’s compelling interest in the pregnant woman’s health would allow it to regulate abortion “at approximately the end of the first trimester” of pregnancy. Regarding the foetus, the Court located that point at “capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb,” or viability, which occurs at about 24 weeks of pregnancy. (Britannica)

Campaigners say all women should be given a choice

The court ruled that “unduly restrictions of state regulation of abortion is unconstitutional.”

This year in 2022 the courts have been reviewing this case and may even be looking towards overturning that law (according to a draft opinion that was leaked to politico). Meaning US states will have the right to decide their own policies on abortion again causing yet another shift in women's reproductive rights.

The situation has caused uproar especially in America. Here in the UK our policies on abortion are that abortions can take place in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy in both England, Scotland, and Wales but they have to be approved by two doctors who must agree that having the baby would pose a greater risk to the physical or mental health of the woman than a termination. Much like America abortion was criminalized and illegal in the UK until around 1967 when the abortion act came about.

Mara Clarke, one of the founders of ASN and the leading expert on abortion in America expressed her concerns and disappointment regarding Roe Vs Wade’s potential overturn.

“The possibility of Roe V. Wade being overturned is horrifying but not at all surprising. And it’s important to note that Roe has not meant that everyone in the US needing an abortion has been able to get one. In fact, currently almost 90% of US counties do not have an abortion provider and 7 states have only one clinic. Big states, like South Dakota and Mississippi.

“For many in America for many years, abortion access has been very difficult if not impossible. But threat to abortion on this scale is not solely an American problem, as some Europeans may believe. There are multiple countries in Europe with hugely restrictive abortion laws, or inadequate provision. For example, in 2021 Poland made its already stringent abortion laws even stricter, enacting a near-total ban on abortion across the country.”

The uproar is further exasperated by the fact that often the lawmakers who are making these decisions concerning women’s reproductive health, are men.

Yes, it is fair to say that since men are involved in the conception of a child and often upbringing once the child is brought into the world but the carrying and pregnancy, morning sickness, weight gain and discomfort that comes along with being pregnant is felt and experienced by the women- so men deciding whether or not a woman has the right to terminate a pregnancy by choice- does not rest well with much of the female population not just in America but all over the world.

For too long the hegemony has been the men of the world. This has been a disadvantage for the women of the world in many aspects of their lives. Men are not the ones to be making this decision concerning a woman's body and her choices regarding reproduction. Women are given these fundamental rights for their safety and wellbeing.

Some people may not wish to become pregnant; some people may fall pregnant as result of a lack of contraceptive accessibility or education. Some women unfortunately end up with unwanted pregnancies due to sexual assault and some people are simply not in the best environment or situations to do so.

CARE is a charity that is fighting against poverty and inequality. They believe that you cannot fight one without also tackling the other. CARE has many initiatives and goals, and one is to ensure that women in developing countries are given the necessary health services in order to have safe childbirths and pregnancies – as 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries-, reproductive self-determination and bodily integrity.

During troublesome times, conflicts and natural disasters, young girls are susceptible to sexual violence and unwanted pregnancies. Without reproductive rights a lot of these young girls would perish not even just in childbirth but some due to a lack of resources and limited healthcare services would not make it to even the earliest stages of a pregnancy.

CARE is not the only charity fighting to give women their fundamental reproductive rights. ASN (Abortion Support Network) are a largely volunteer led charity that set out to offer financial aid, information and other support for any women who are forced to travel to have an abortion. They are the bridge between these women and their abortions if they seek them.

ASN was founded in 2009 and initially began as a service for people in Ireland, Northern Ireland and The Isle of Man and have since branched out into places in Europe such as Poland, Gibraltar, Romania, France, and Spain.

Their initiative is to help anyone who needs it despite any of their differences. They pride themselves on being inclusive and ensuring everyone who needs an abortion can access one safely and legally.

Mara Clarke, said on this matter:

“In Malta and Andorra, abortion is completely illegal. In Hungary, you must attend five appointments to have an abortion, facing many obstacles along the way, and in Italy 70% of gynaecologists refuse to do abortions, which limits access. And in the UK abortion is still in the criminal code.”

She also relayed that as a support network for abortions and with the potential repercussions that could come from the law being overturned in the US it is disheartening but not surprising. Mara also expressed that with America’s former President stacking the odds against women by instating many right-wing conservatives in the Supreme Court “the overturn of Roe was a matter of when and not if”.

When asked the hardest part of her job in a network that supports a subject that has brought about much controversy in the past and present Mara declared “...we (at ASN) don’t consider abortion to be, in and of itself, “controversial”. Abortion is a medical procedure that one in four women will go through.”

“For me, it’s as much a part of reproductive health as periods or menopause or infertility or pregnancy. “

“But it’s so often positioned as “difficult” or “stigmatizing” or “controversial” - rather than as the regular part of healthcare that at least 25% of women will experience. This characterization adds to the stigma, which prevents healthy and supportive discussions about abortion from taking place.”


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