Ms. Renkl is a contributing Opinion writer who covers flora, fauna, politics and culture in the American South.
“NASHVILLE — I’ve been watching anti-abortion bills sweep the red states this season, and it occurs to me that the week of Mother’s Day might be a good time for a red-state mother like me to weigh in. I fervently support a woman’s right to choose, but I still spend a lot of time thinking about how Republican legislators could achieve their real goal without also trying to undo settled legal precedent.
First, a reminder: Women ended unwanted pregnancies long before Roe v. Wade made abortion safe and legal in the United States, and women will continue to do so even if Roe is overturned. During the 1950s and ’60s, before reliable birth control became widely available, between 200,000 and 1.2 million women illegally ended unwanted pregnancies in the United States each year.
To make a real difference in the abortion rate, birth control needs to be affordable and easy to obtain. Instead, our legislators consistently fight to protect employers and insurance companies that want to opt out of paying for birth control in health care plans. Comprehensive sex-education courses significantly reduce adolescent pregnancies, but red-state legislatures favor abstinence-only sex ed, which has no effect on teenage pregnancy rates. Some of these legislators it seems, don’t understand the difference between birth control and abortion in the first place.”
Ms. Martínez Coral is the senior regional director of the Center for Reproductive Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“Colombia had a blanket ban on abortion until 2006, when the country’s constitutional court mandated that abortion be legally accessible when a woman’s health and life were at risk, a fetus had serious health problems or when a pregnancy resulted from rape. But some women faced barriers to accessing these legal abortion services, including onerous medical requirements to prove they qualify. Others who had abortions — or who helped a woman obtain one — could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Last September, a lawsuit asking the Constitutional Court of Colombia to decriminalize abortion was filed by the Causa Justa — or Just Cause — movement, a coalition of which the Center for Reproductive Rights is a part. We argued that abortion is essential health care that should not be regulated in the penal system. The court also asked Congress to create regulations to apply the ruling. In a transformative shift for the majority-Catholic country, we are now the third country in Latin America to decriminalize abortion in the last year, behind Mexico and Argentina.”
“Attorney General Lynn Fitch of Mississippi made nationwide news last week when she asked the Supreme Court to overturn its two leading precedents on the right to abortion, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I was puzzled by the treatment of this filing as news, unless the news was that a state finally came clean with the court and told the justices what it really wanted them to do.”