Women's health is more than just the right to an abortion.
Last Wednesday commemorated the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that established the right to abortion in the U.S. Over the course of my life I have encountered a great many opinions on abortion, and I may have gotten into an argument or two over the subject.
There's no question that the topic is a hotbed for disagreement.
However, I feel the heated debate over abortion is, at times, highly misguided. Many feel that abortion is a simple issue, that it's a yay-or-nay kind of deal. The truth is that abortion is one facet — albeit a highly controversial one — of the bigger issue of women's reproductive health.
The Population Institute released its annual State of Reproductive Health and Rights report card a couple weeks back. Spoiler alert: We as a nation didn't do so hot.
A "C-", America? Really?
Tennessee got an "F." This, sadly, does not surprise me. As a young woman, I should be highly frightened, which I am. But not surprised.
Among the individual states who received an especially dismal "F-" on their report cards is our neighbor Mississippi — which, fun fact, has just one abortion clinic in its entirety — as well as Texas.
Big, giant, problematic Texas.
About two years ago, Texas cut its family-planning budget by two-thirds. A year ago, Texas legislators endorsed these cuts as steps to dismantling the "abortion industry."
Guess what though, guys? Not only is there no such thing as an "abortion industry," but also, of the 53 clinics that closed as a direct result of the budget cuts, none of them even offered abortion.
These clinics offered things like basic health screenings, mammograms and STI testing. The clinics that remain now have had to begin charging fees to stay afloat, which means even fewer people will have access to these services. Regardless of your stance on the issue, you must see how harmful abortion politics have become.
Let me break it down for you again: essentially we have countless women who have lost or are losing access to an affordable means of basic healthcare just because a bunch of old men in expensive suits conflate the terms "family planning" and "abortion."
And this isn't just happening in Texas, it's happening all over the country.
Pro-life legislators are so into policing women's bodies that they don't care about the very real destruction to women's health that they are causing.
Women's health issues are so much bigger than just having the right to have an abortion; but because we as a nation have placed so much weight into this one issue, we aren't appropriately addressing things like breast cancer, cervical cancer, STIs, mental health, pregnancy complications, rape and domestic abuse.
Why is it that some of my friends know more about late-term abortions than they do about at what age and how often they should get a pap smear?
Finally — just to add two more cents to my two cents — the general political platform that comes along with being "pro-life" isn't so in favor of life as one would like to think. Supporting the downsizing of welfare programs and being OK with "Stand Your Ground" laws seems pretty staunchly "anti-life" if you ask me.
Andrea Richardson is a sophomore in anthropology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.