To the editor:
Over the weekend, on Oct. 2, tens of thousands of Americans gathered in cities all across our nation to rally for abortion justice. Abortion rights activists gathered at over 600 protests nationwide in support of reproductive rights.
The recent attacks on abortion care have brought into sharp focus just how precarious reproductive freedom is today. The extreme and draconian restrictions that are proliferating in our state and others, including six-week bans, waiting periods, informed consent requirements, bans on public funding, and unnecessary clinic regulations, are designed to make abortion care inaccessible for people living in under-resourced communities and this disproportionately impacts communities of color. 70% of Hoosiers who have abortions live in counties with no abortion clinic. At the same time, the U.S. still has the highest maternal death rates among developed countries. Black women in Indiana are more likely to die in childbirth, at a rate of 53 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to 41 deaths per 100,000 live births for white women. When there is a lack of access to a range of affordable health services, the maternal and infant death rate rise.
Indiana Code 20-30-5-13 requires the teaching of abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard. However, abstinence-only sex education inevitably only leads to the likelihood of more abortions. Researchers at the University of Washington found that adolescents who received comprehensive sex education were significantly less likely to become pregnant than those who received abstinence-only-until-marriage or no formal sex education.
Whether you want to believe it or not, the vast majority of Americans support the right to choose. Without access to safe and affordable abortions, we will be thrown back into the dark days of illegal and unsafe abortions that could lead to pain, suffering, loss of fertility, and even death. Abortion access is hanging by a thread, and our state legislators must support affordable safe access to abortion care.