The Fundamentals Surrounding the Rhetoric of New York's New Abortion Law

By Sam Stroozas

Credit: NYCLU

Credit: NYCLU

In 1993, the notorious pro-choice advocate, Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

This quote still rings true to the current political climate we see surrounding abortion in the United States, and how a conjunction of Church and State has brought religion into a realm of government it never quite belonged in. Church and State are meant to be separated, to reach  opposite ends of the spectrum, because even at the beginning of our government past leaders realized that complications arise when we permit the philosophical nature of religion to take over a governing body and country.

Recently, in New York a new abortion law passed and uproar surged from pro-life advocates. Andrew Cuomo signed the New York Reproductive Health Act which as CNN explained, means there is greater access to abortion, and that abortion is eliminated from the state’s criminal code. More so, this protects doctors and medical professionals from criminal prosecution and allows medical professionals who are not doctors to also perform abortions in the state of New York.

The law goes into more detail by expanding late-term abortions, “Under New York’s Reproductive Health Act they [late-term abortions] can be performed after 24 weeks if the fetus is not viable or when necessary to protect the life of the mother.” This expansion ignited the pro-life camp into a frenzy. As stated in the quote, this call for late-term abortions is solely based in decriminalizing abortion and protecting the life of the mother. If a law is being passed that is actively working on lowering the United States fascination with imprisonment and is putting the health of the mother at the forefront, what is there really to be upset about?

CBN News - The Christian Perspective, thinks differently.

In a recent article by Crystal Woodall and Benjamin Gill, they criticize Cuomo and the state of New York by dragging out persuasive rhetoric from a former Planned Parenthood clinic director, Abby Johnson. It begins, “As heinous as critics find New York’s decision to legalize abortion up until the day of birth, former Planned Parenthood Clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson warns this is nothing new. It’s a much bigger issue than most people realize.”

In the first paragraph of the article they fail to mention that in accordance to the law, it begins at 24 weeks, where the previous law ended, neglecting to mention that the majority of women who choose this option do so because of the discovery of a fatal disease or abnormality in the fetus. It states until birth, because of the majority of women who will have to make the decision will either abort their baby prior to this, or go through the birthing process and have a stillborn baby. The abortion process is a very personal issue that no one can decide but the person going through it. To act as if there is space for anyone, or for any God, to have a say in what a woman decides to do or not to do with a body that is lawfully not yours, further insituates the idea of a Church and State-focused government.

A USA Today article written by Kim Painter, responded to President Trump claiming in 2016 that late-term abortion is a, “partial birth, in the ninth month, you can take the baby and rip the baby out of the womb of the mother just prior to the birth of the baby. It can happen as late as one or two or three or four days prior to birth.” Painter’s article worked to debunk this idea and convey the true science behind much of this religiously motivated argument.

Late-term abortions are not as common as we are being told they are. Painter stated their findings, “Of the more than 1 million abortions performed in the United States in 2011, about 12,000, or 1.3% happened after 21 weeks.” The people who do opt to get a late-term abortion have done so because of “severe fetal abnormalities discovered late by ultrasound tests, or a health crisis for the woman.”

As far as the claim of nine-month abortions, Painter found, “There are no nine-month abortions. There are situations in which labor is induced because of problems in the last month of pregnancy,  but at 38 or 39 weeks it’s always an induction and is simply called a delivery.”

Pro-choice versus pro-life is not the end of the conversation. Nobody wants anyone to have an abortion, but they should have the choice to do so because it is their body and their decision. In order to lessen the number of unplanned pregnancies that occur, we must rigorously tackle the prevalent issue of the K-12 sex education. Abstinence-only education has proved to only increase pregnancy rates and fail to prepare young adults for the real world of sexual health. We need a complete reform of comprehensive based sex education that instills the urgent need for sexual health in the classroom that does not coincide with a shameful connotation.

It is this simple: If you do not like abortions, do not have one.

It is important to note that among all, there is privilege in the abortion narrative. Transgender men and non-binary people are often overlooked, when in reality, abortion access has to be for everyone. Cazembe Jackson, shared his story to “HelloFlo,” a blogging site. After having an abortion in college when he became pregnant as a result of rape, he is now working to expand the abortion narrative past just white cisgender women. He is  a storyteller with We Testify, a project of the National Network of Abortion Funds who “aims to broaden the spectrum of abortion stories we hear and amplify the voices of trans and non-binary folks, as well as people of color  and those from rural communities.”

Jackson said, “I wanted to be the person I was looking for. I know there are other people like me, black trans men, who need to be able to see people like me talking about access,” he continued, “No one is talking about pregnancy and childbirth in a trans inclusive way. We need to separate gender from the ability to reproduce, but we only talk about removing uteruses and then acting like they never existed.” New York's recent law was a major improvement to abortion access and rhetoric in the United States but there must also be further implication that embeds inclusivity.

For many pro-life advocates, the question is not so much why you insist on being a major activist against the freedom of a women’s choice, but if this is your anthem, why does it end outside of the womb? If you are claiming to be pro-women, pro-child, pro-life, I challenge you to ask yourself what you personally did to help with the children who were, and still are, being detained at the border? If you care so much about the future of children, please make sure it is the future of all children, not just white, cis-gender, heterosexual ‘perfect victim’ youth.