Stripping abortion rights is not best way to educate women, some say

Jennifer Lee Preyss By Jennifer Lee Preyss

Jan. 24, 2014 at midnight
Updated Jan. 23, 2014 at 7:24 p.m.

It's never an easy decision to end a pregnancy.

In recent years, whenever a friend or family member has reached out to Kelli Gill post-abortion, she said she's listened to their decision and comforted them when necessary.

But while the decision is difficult, Gill said her friends always admit it was the best choice for their life.

"Most of them say something like, 'I wonder what would have happened, but I'm so glad I did it,'" said Gill, of Victoria.

A longtime supporter of women's reproductive rights and access to safe and legal medical care, Gill now serves as a board member for National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice Texas.

"I've been politically active for a long time. . I want to make sure our rights are not stripped away, and we don't go backward," Gill said.

Often, the argument about abortion in the U.S. is about the legalization of abortion, Gill said, but abortion is going to happen regardless of the law, Gill said.

"This isn't a matter of whether they should happen; they're going to happen anyway. What the law protects is our right to safe medical care," she said. "I truly believe this is a health issue. It's about having access to a safe procedure that saves women's lives. You're not taking away abortion, you're taking away safe abortion."

Gill said new laws stemming from state legislation in 2011 stripped thousands of Texas women of their rights to safe pregnancy termination, especially for women in lower socioeconomic classes.

Heather Busby, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, agrees, mentioning clinics have closed across the state from regulation born from the new legislation.

"(Statewide) Twelve of our 42 clinics have closed or stopped providing abortions," Busby said. "In September, we'll be down to six."

Busby said the requirements of the legislation push for stricter regulations on the facilities, requiring them to spend millions of dollars for retrofitting or expanding their facilities unnecessarily, often resulting in their closure.

"There's nothing Pro-Life about what's going on in Texas," she said. "This is a real life and death issue. There's a difference between induced miscarriage and a woman dying from sepsis and infection from illegal abortion."

Busby said the governmental attacks on reproductive health care are growing across the board, expanding from the abortion regulations to areas of sex education and contraception.

"At the core of it is a fear of sex and sexuality and women having power of their own bodies and destiny," Busby said.

Both Gill and Busby agree the January anniversary of Roe vs. Wade is an important one and that women's issues and rights have come a long way in four decades.

"The best way to tackle this issue is educating women. We need more access to contraception and over the counter emergency contraception. We need to be teaching young adults if they plan on having sex, use a condom. Ultimately, you want abortions to be a last resort," Gill said. "If you're going to engage, be responsible. But let's stop trying to ignore that sex isn't happening."

Other view: Abortion not only solution; emotional pain can last lifetime



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