Women’s right to abortion under attack

Women with unwanted pregnancies being denied legal right to abortion

The legal right of women to abortion services is under attack. Abortion clinics are picketed. Women exercising their legal right to have an abortion are being harassed as they enter the clinics. Physicians who provide abortion services have been targeted by opponents, who have harassed these physicians and even murdered them — as in the case of family physician George Tiller in May 2009. President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — so-called health reform — denies insurance coverage for abortion services.

These assaults on a woman’s right to abortion are taking a toll on access to this legal contraceptive service. In a report for the Guttmacher Institute entitled “Abortion Incidence and Services in the United States 2008,” data indicate a decline in abortions. Despite population growth, the total number of women receiving abortions in 2008 was essentially the same as it was in 2005, which means the rate of abortions has declined. In 2008, the rate was 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women aged 15-44, whereas the rate in 2005 was 19.6.

On the bright side, women seem to have better access to medical abortions (where a combination of two drugs are administered instead of surgery). The number of medical abortions performed in nonhospital facilities increased from 161,000 to 199,000 between 2005 and 2008. According to the report, some 59% of abortion providers offer medical termination of pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the number of abortion providers remains abysmally low. In 2008, there were 1,793 such providers — not much different than the 1,787 who existed in 2005. The vast majority of the United States lacks abortion services, with 87% of U.S. counties not having an abortion provider. One of the aims of the campaign of harassment and intimidation of physicians who perform abortions is to terrorize clinicians and make them hesitant to provide this legal service. The Guttmacher Institute’s study reports that 89% of the large nonhospital providers report regular harassment from anti-abortion forces.

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 at 14:35