Viewpoint: We have a say in abortion

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Monique Tranel

For women, our life course is determined by deciding if we have children, how many we have, and with whom we have them. Getting a degree, having a career, volunteering in our communities, caring for elderly parents or raising children are activities – what the founders called the pursuits of happiness – that give meaning to our lives.

Our decision to be – or not to be – a parent directly affects how we choose to impact our world.

Women know these are self-evident truths. In the fall of 2021, SNL comedian Cecily Strong bravely explained that if she hadn’t had an abortion at 23, she wouldn’t be a professional comedian at 37.

Poignantly, six out of 10 women who have abortions are already parents who lack the resources to care for more children. Women are conditioned to keep these stories hidden, fearing that their reasons, their decisions will be judged harshly as flippant or selfish.

For 50 years, Roe v. Wade protected us from states that limited access to necessary abortion services. Based on the leaked draft, the Supreme Court backtracked, saying that “it is time to…. . . refer the question of abortion to the elected representatives of the people.

When this happens, state-imposed restrictions will have an outsized impact on low-income, rural and Native American people. Those of us in these circumstances will not be able to afford to travel to states where abortion remains legal. Banning abortion will not end abortion. But banning abortion will shorten education, end careers, and extinguish, for too many people, the ability to fully live “our wild and precious life.”

I am running for Congress to fight for policies that empower us all to make our world a better place, in our own ways and on our own terms.

First, Congress must codify Roe’s protections for all by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. This law will create a federal right to medical care, which will override state efforts to limit access to abortion.

Second, Congress can do more and prevent unwanted pregnancies by providing free birth control to everyone. In 2008, 60% of Colorado women aged 15 to 24 who gave birth said their pregnancy was unwanted. Colorado responded by providing birth control to over 30,000 women. The results have been spectacular. In 2019, teen abortion rates across the state dropped 64%.

Third, Congress must support families who want to have children. The annual cost of childcare for infants can be as high as the cost of school fees. Childcare accounts for 35% of some families’ budgets. President Biden and congressional Democrats are pushing for the child tax credit, paid family leave, affordable child care and universal early education. But not a single elected member of Congress who claims to be “pro-life” supports these provisions.

Fourth, Congress must guarantee essential medical care. Today, nearly 40% of all abortions in the United States and 75% in Montana are performed with a pill that doctors can safely and effectively prescribe for up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy. However, Republican leaders in Montana and other states are limiting mail access to this drug. There is no medical or scientific reason to do so. Indeed, the same legislatures allow men to obtain Viagra prescriptions over the Internet.

Yes, the Supreme Court seems ready to return to a time when states can limit access to abortion. But this is not the last word. We have the next say. If elected to Congress, I will ensure that we have every means to set the course of our own destiny.

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