Prequisites To True Reproductive Choice
What does it take to have a real choice? In a just society, every child and woman would be valued with the same reverence as rich white men. When a female becomes pregnant, she would be able to provide a stable life with a home, nutritious food, education, healthcare, and childcare. Her decision regarding when to have children and how many children to have would be respected.
Today, we don’t live in a just society. We fight to secure each woman’s a true choice. In the meantime, a key feminist demand will always be safe, legal abortion on demand and safe, accessible birth control.
We have made some progress. Sex education and access to birth control for young people has increased since Roe v. Wade. Access to abortion is lessening, particularly in some states, and access to birth control seems to be also threatened.
We consider the following to be the basic prerequisites to true reproductive choice:
Access to Birth Control and Abortion
Employers. Politicians. Abusive partners. These are some of the forces who want to prevent women from informed, safe access to birth control and abortion.
Organizations like Feminist Women's Health Centers, and AidAccess are doing the work of serving people who need abortions amidst the persistent attacks against abortion and reproductive rights. Be sure to read this whole section for abortion information and go to our birth control page to get information on preventing or deciding when to get pregnant.
Women have a right to and a need for equal earning power with men regardless of whether they choose to be mothers or not. Marriage is declining and about 1 in 4 children live with unmarried parents, and about 1 in 5 children live with a solo mother.
The equal pay act is over 50 years old and we're still faced with the realities that women of color in particular are impacted in devastating ways financially because the equal pay act does not account for bias. The National Women's Law Center outlines the impacts bias, a continued wage gap, and a flawed cultural perspective have on women when it comes to making a living - specifically African American, Latina, and specific groups of Asian women face the largest instances of bias and prejudice.
The wage gap is a harsh reality for women, regardless of education and work experience — and it only gets worse as women’s careers progress. The wage gap typically translates into more than $10,000 per year in lost earnings for women. The good news is that there’s a clear path ahead to fair pay for women. ~ National Women's Law Center
Access to Child and Health Care
Any woman who is trying to decide whether or not to continue an unexpected pregnancy takes into consideration how she would take care of a child. Many of the women who decide to have an abortion do so because they do not have the resources or the means to take care of a child. Many of the people who choose abortion are already parents.
Mothers work; out of necessity and choice. The United States is far behind every other country in parental leave, funded childcare, and flex work options for mothers. As we note below, access to extended family support is not common in the United States. When parental leave is available, mothers return to work anywhere from 6 weeks to far less often, 6 months. Unless a mother has access to affordable childcare or at home support, her costs to arrange care for her child or children will be for some, prohibitive.
The concept of universal family care, combined with or in place of family and medical leave has the potential to solve access to child and health care for families at different stages in life.
The Urban Institute's 2006 study Caring for Children of Color The Child Care Patterns of White, Black and Hispanic Children found, unsurprisingly, child care patterns in the United States are determined by the patterns preferred by white children. This observation means the country's childcare patterns and policies don't look at the differences or attempt to understand the different forms of care among these populations.
State Support for Children
The goal of the American reproductive rights and reproductive justice movement needs to be that our society, in an era of prosperity or a depression, puts the welfare of each of our children first.
If a woman gets pregnant, even if married to the father, it is still she who will bear the main responsibility of nurturing children. She will need support of varieties of sorts during pregnancy, birth, infancy and childhood.
In the United States, extended family support isn't common for young pregnant people. And there is a drive by the current administration to significantly restrict access to Medicaid.
...increases in adult Medicaid eligibility are associated with a greater likelihood of children in low-income families receiving preventive care, according to a recent study, which finds that children are 29 percentage points more likely to have an annual well-child visit if their parents are enrolled in Medicaid. Unfortunately, undoing coverage gains for parents will likely undo gains for children as well. ~ The Center On Budget And Policy Priorities
The website Single Mother Guide lists currently available grants for single mothers and breaks them out state by state by the types: TANF, SNAP, Unemployment and Medicaid.
Equal Opportunity For Education
American society is riddled with inequalities, and getting an education is one way for marginalized systemically oppressed people to improve their chances of living healthy, successful lives. The National Center For Education Statistics chart degrees conferred by race and sex shows the increase of women obtaining degrees, yet while women earn degrees at higher rates than men, Janet Napolitano, University of California President and former DHS Secretary under President Barack Obama - writes, they're continuing to earn less than their same degreed, same positioned male peers.
At the middle and high school level, schools and communities can do more to make it possible for girls to finish school and go on to college who are pregnant or who have children, or choose abortion. There are communities that find ways to support this population as teen birth rates drop due to access to birth control, abortion and sexual education. There are communities who shame and shun young women. There are resources for communities to learn how to support them. And there are legal resources to fight the barriers that still exist for youth that get pregnant and lose their access to education.
The Center For Reproductive Rights is an excellent source to track the current legal fights going on around the country. You can find information on all levels and time frames of court cases on the website.
What Is Abortion?
An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. Feminist Women's Health Clinics typically offer the abortion pill or an in clinic procedure. Women's Health In Women's Hands fully supports women having the right and freedom to manage their own fertility.
The best chance you have for safe, respectful care is in a clinic, particularly one owned and run by feminists. In a relaxed atmosphere where clinic routines are centered on the woman, where the emphasis is on providing information rather than on judgmental counseling, you can have a less unpleasant experience. A further advantage of a clinic abortion is that the abortion technicians are usually very experienced and highly skilled, much more so than a gynecologist who does just a few abortions each month.
Feminists, abortion activists and committed physicians have worked to simplify and demystify the process of ending an unwanted pregnancy. The procedure they have developed is by far the safest and least traumatic available. It simplifies cumbersome medical routines and eliminates unnecessary requirements, to where having an abortion is more like going to the dentist than like having one's appendix removed.
In women controlled clinics, the abortion itself is carefully designed to be as non traumatic as possible. The smallest possible instruments are used. Since pain and trauma are the result of rapid, forceful stretching of the cervical canal, using a flexible cannula of the smallest possible size greatly reduces the pain and likelihood of injury. Another important factor in minimizing discomfort is the gentleness and skill of the abortionist.
This section give you information about the abortion pill, abortion procedure options and Menstrual Extraction.
ME (Menstrual Extraction):
When can it be used? When you're less than 7 weeks.
How does it work? ME is a manual vacuum aspiration technique developed by feminist activists, Lorraine Rothman and Carol Downer, to pass the entire menses at once. The non-medicalized technique has been used in small feminist self-help groups since 1971 and has a social role of allowing access to early abortion without needing medical assistance or legal approval. ME is used all over the world.
Success rates: ME is successful when properly administered, 99% of the time.
What are the risks? When properly administered, the risks and side effects of ME are minimal, having less side effects than a D&C. Other risks can be infection.
About ME: Menstrual Extraction evolved out of the women's health movement to make abortion safe and legal and we did not expect that all women would use menstrual extraction as a backup when birth control failed. We were well aware, however, that one or two menstrual extractions a year carry far less health risks than either an IUD or the Pill.
Menstrual extraction and early termination abortion are similar technically, but menstrual extraction is not performed in a medical setting. When done by an experienced group, it can be used simply as a home-care procedure by women wishing to gain knowledge about their bodies and menstrual cycles and to exert more direct control over their reproductive lives.
In Clinic Abortions
When can it be used? This method is generally used up to the first trimester, 12 weeks. In clinics where additional equipment and personnel with additional experience are available abortions to 16 weeks can be obtained.
How does it work? Vacuum aspiration early abortion is best performed in a Women's Health abortion clinic with local anesthetic, however for the clinics own convenience, abortion patients are often given general anesthetic. The complications of general anesthesia are higher due to the additional risks of general anesthesia; gen an lengthens recovery time also. Overall both local and gen have very low rates of complications.
The procedure itself takes around 3 minutes.
Success rates: Vacuum aspiration is successful more than 99% of the time.
What are the risks? Cramping, nausea, and less common are failed abortions and infection.
Dilation and Evacuation (D&E):
When can it be used? 16 weeks or longer since your last period.
How does it work? Your cervix will be softened and dilated in advance by inserting a lamanaria, which expands your cervix, and stays in overnight or for a day or two. A D&E is generally done under anesthesia. Specialized instruments and suction are used to extract the contents of your uterus.
Success rates: D&E is successful more than 99% of the time.
What are the risks? Cramping, nausea, prolonged bleeding, in rare cases, damage to the uterus or cervix.
Abortion Pill / Medical Abortion:
When can it be used? Up to 10 weeks after the first day of your last period.
How does it work? This is a combination of two drugs (mifepristone and misoprostol) to end a pregnancy. As long as abortion is legal, you'll be given the first pill in a clinic which interupts the pregnancy. You'll most likely get some antibiotic as well. Anywhere from 6 to 48 hours later, you'll take the second drug at home with someone you feel comfortable with. Your care provider will let you know the timing. The abortion pill is not the morning after pill/plan b
Success rates: The abortion pill is effective 87 to 98 percent of the time.
What are the risks? An incomplete abortion is a rare risk of the abortion pill. Other risks are allergic reaction or infection. You should expect some discomfort.
Recently, medical abortion has been made available in the United States using an online consultation, then mailing your medication to you. This makes medical abortion available to people who can't afford it, are at risk of violence, or can't physically access abortion care because clinics have been forced to close. You can find out how it works by going to the Plan C website.
Who Gets Abortions?
1 in 4 women have an abortion by age 45.
Transgender men and gender non-conforming people who have functioning ovaries and uterus get abortions.
Abortion is one of the safest and most common medical procedures in the United States.
59% of women who have abortions are already mothers. We hope to eventually have data on the number of trans men who have abortions and are already fathers.
Approximately 1.3 million women have an abortion per year, and 90% are in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Less than 1% of abortions result in serious complications.
Any human with functioning ovaries and a uterus can get pregnant. Trans men as well as gender non-conforming people can get pregnant, be parents, have abortions. In order to support trans and non binary people who need abortion services, we've included in our library the publication Trans-Inclusive Abortion Services: A manual for providers on operationalizing trans-inclusive policies and practices in an abortion setting. This manual was produced for the Fédération du Québec pour le planning des naissances (FQPN), as part of their commitment to expanding discussions of sexual and reproductive health to include trans people and their families and can be downloaded for free to share with your provider or anyone else.
Having An Abortion In California (home of the Women's Health Movement)
- In California, there are no restrictions on a woman's right to choose abortion, such as parental consent, age limits, waiting periods, etc.
- California recognizes the right of every person to have a safe, legal procedure.
- Abortion services are covered by Medi-Cal, state funded insurance.
- If you don't have insurance, we can help you sign up for Medi-Cal.
- Doctors, physician's assistants, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners can all train to perform abortions.
- Youth do not need a guardian or partner's permission to make decisions about abortion.
* Quoted from The Women's Health Specialists website
Having an abortion in the United States
We reference the Guttmacher Institute throughout the website, where you can find much more information.
Current Legal Status
Abortions are part of women's lives, they have been for as long as there have been women. Abortion is our human right. No legislation will change that fact.
Every woman, no matter where she lives, should have access to abortion when she needs it. But because of all the restrictive laws passed by state politicians, a woman’s ability to access abortion often depends on her zip code. And some politicians in Congress want to pass restrictions on abortion nationwide. ~ Quoted from The National Women's Law Center
Abortion is legal in the United States. Roe v Wade was decided in 1973 and since that time, anti abortion groups continue to try to force restrictions to women's access and right to abortion with deceptive and fear based tactics by building biased clinics where medically inaccurate information is given and advertising with language that is meant to deceive patients and enacting state level restrictions so severe they ignore the human rights of the pregnant person in need of an abortion.
The Guttmacher Institute tracks major provisions of individual state laws restricting abortion. Their chart shows up to date laws by state for things like waiting periods, counseling requirements, funding and who can provide in a specific state.