Abortion in California

Since 1967, abortion in the state of California has been legal. This all began with the Therapeutic Abortion Act which was signed by, then governor, Ronald Regan. The California Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League states: “[The law] expanded legal abortion in California under very restrictive criteria [. . .] it requires the procedure must take place in a hospital, within the first twenty weeks of pregnancy, and only in cases of rape, incest, or if the life or mental health of the mother is at risk” (“California”). To this day, the Therapeutic Abortion Act is still in effect throughout California. Fortunately for people who are pro-life and do not agree with the current abortion act, Governor Gray Davis has recently proposed more condense, specific abortion bills which should be passed. These bills will change the way the government of California is perceived from now on.

Mark Sappenfield claims the four bills being introduced are “The most ambitious package of abortion-rights bills in U.S. history”. The first bill proposed to “shield clinics and their employees and patients from harassment by blocking public access to names and addresses of the clinics themselves and all those associated with them”. This provides women with comfort during a stressful time. It also provides women who are unsure of what they are doing the security that people will not be around pressuring them to change their mind because the abortion will be fully anonymous. The second bill “requires all medical-residency programs for obstetricians and gynecologists to give abortion training, though institutions and individuals can opt out for reasons of religion or conscience”. The training allows women the knowledge that their doctor is performing a safe surgery and the woman does not have to worry about infertility or death. A third bill “mandate[s] that emergency-room staff tell victims of sexual abuse about emergency contraception, [and] then give it to them without charge if they ask for it” . These are pills such as RU-486, which is designed to kill the fetus without medical surgery. Finally, it “allows[s] nurses and midwives to prescribe abortion drugs” . The bills are enacted to provide safe help for women to receive quality care, if they do, in fact, decide they need and/or want an abortion.

The first abortion bill that is trying to be passed is a positive bill, not only for the people that choose to have abortions, but for the people who choose to harass the women having abortions. People that find themselves to be pro-life try to control women’s decisions by telling them to go through with their pregnancy; when in reality, it is none of their business. Anna Runkle maintains: “These women claim to hold unbiased opinions, but the fact that they are trying to control a woman’s decision, and ban abortion, makes their opinions completely biased” (A17). Being pro-choice results in people making choices we do not approve of, but the fact that pro-choice activists hold unbiased opinions results in our decision to respect other women’s choices. Pro-choice believers understand that women must decide for themselves since it is their own life.

Pro-life activists, who believe all babies should have a chance to live, choose to protest and have demonstrations in front of abortion clinics throughout the state of California. People who are protesting abortions think if they are rude enough to the women obtaining abortions, these women will change their minds, this results in many pro-life activists choosing to harass women that attend abortion clinics. The first bill being proposed is going to “ban all pro-life activists from being able to have access to names and addresses of clinics and all the people associated with them” (“California”). This will allow for women to keep their abortions private and not have to worry about being hassled if and when they choose to attend the clinic. It also provides security to women who are unsure about what they are choosing to go through. The bill written, although more geared towards pro-choice activists, can and should be viewed positively by both sides of the issue because every woman in the state of California deserves to be respected no matter what she desires to do with her life and her child.

The bill which “requires all medical-residency programs for obstetricians and gynecologists to give abortion training” is proposed to keep all legal abortions safe (“California”). The Alan Guttmacher Institute declares: “Approximately twenty-six million women receive legal abortions every year, yet on top of those twenty-six million women; twenty million more women receive illegal abortions every year” (“Alan Guttmacher”). The number of women who are having unsafe abortions every year will significantly decline if, and when, this proposed bill gets passed. The bill will not guarantee women will stop having illegal abortions, but, it will guarantee that many women will be attending trained gynecologists and obstetricians and many of the doctors that will be performing abortions will be much safer, cleaner and more knowledgeable than they have been in the past.

The third bill “mandates emergency room staff to tell victims of sexual abuse about emergency contraception and give it without charge if asked for”. I can see why this bill might anger pro-life activists. Yet, as mentioned earlier, women have the right to make their own decisions and they do not need to be pressured by people who uphold biased opinions. By legally making nurses and/or doctors offer emergency contraception it gives women who are pro-choice the option to take the pill and make sure they do not have a child. Yet, it also allows the pro-life woman the option of saying no to the pill and choose to have the child. Providing the pill to all eligible women allows for women who are unaware of abortion pills to have a choice of what to do if they are neither pro-choice nor pro-life. This bill is not something pro-life activists can object to and is something pro-choice activists can be happy about. It offers women the choice of what they would like to do with their life and their child and the woman who is pro-life can make the choice she feels is correct. The state of California is not promoting abortion in any way by offering this medication; all the government is proposing is a way for women to handle the decision of carrying their rapist’s child. The bill is extremely logical from a pro-choice point of view as well as a pro-life view.

The last bill Governor Gray Davis proposed “makes abortion legal and expands its rights, allowing nurses and midwives to prescribe abortion drugs”. This bill allows women living in rural areas the option to abort their child when they are far from a hospital. It also permits women, who are living in areas where they cannot receive adequate care for themselves and their child to have an alternate option. Many women, living in rural areas, do not receive quality care when it comes time for their child to be delivered. This, at times, can result in the death of the mother, and/or the child. Many lives will be saved by providing women with adequate abortion drugs in areas they are unable to receive them. This bill helps women in even the smallest towns of California.

The four bills, which were enacted to promote safe abortion throughout the state of California, are a positive change to our present government. Not only do they protect the rights of women choosing to abort their child, but they demonstrate to pro-life activists that all women are capable of making their own, smart decisions. These proposed laws also look out for the safety of women getting abortions. They provide safe doctors and nurses, who must be knowledgeable and medically trained about the subject of abortion. The state carefully chose the way they proposed their third bill so they were not offending women who are against abortion. By offering the emergency contraception pill, pro-choice and pro-life women can make their own decision and not be hassled because they decided one way or another. The last bill makes abortion drugs available to women throughout the state of California. It provides women, who generally receive adequate health care, the option of choosing to abort their child in a non-surgical way. Not only is this package “the most ambitious package in history” but it allows a pro-choice woman the option of aborting their child while still giving pro-life women their right to choose.

The abortion bills which the governor proposed are extremely beneficial to California. Not only do they protect women who choose to have abortions, but they provide safe health care to help these women go through with their decisions. Overall, the fact that the state is making an effort to help women in California is fantastic. When the bills are passed it will be a step forward to express that women are capable of making their own decisions and gives them a boost in their fight to be equal.

Through the intense researching I did for this paper I learned a lot about abortion. When I first began writing I was very pro-life and found myself to be set in my ways. But the more I continued to write and the more I researched, I found that I am more pro-choice than I thought I was. I still feel that if you get pregnant you should have the baby, however, I now understand why so many women are pro-choice and I do agree with their decision. Both sides have great arguments; it is a shame abortion is such a major and controversial issue facing the state, and nation, today with everything else going on in the world.

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