LWVBC Submits Letter to the Editor About Reproductive Rights
Editor’s Note: The Letter to the Editor to follow was submitted by the LWVBC Board in support of reproductive rights for all.
The topic of abortion is sensitive and triggers emotional responses that make discussion difficult. But it is important. This letter highlights some of the complex issues regarding why the Indiana legislature should uphold individual rights to privacy in decisions on reproductive care, as with any medical procedure. In a special session beginning July 25th, Indiana legislators will make decisions impacting all Hoosiers.
Banning reproductive rights strips people of their bodily autonomy, their constitutional guarantee of equal protection under the law, and the right to privacy. Women and pregnant people will no longer be equal in our democracy if decisions about their reproductive health are put under the control of the state.
The medical reasons where abortion is essential are too complex to list or to enumerate legislatively. Fearing prosecution, doctors may refuse to provide lifesaving abortions, or may take time to consult an attorney to determine legality, risking the mother’s life with delay. Consider just a few examples where abortion is required to save the mother’s life such as an ectopic pregnancy, septic uterus, or a miscarriage that a body won’t release. Decisions on action needed to prevent complications or to save the mother’s life should be left to the medical provider and individual, unclouded by legislative mandates.
If the option for abortion is withheld, child victims of rape or incest will be cruelly and unjustly forced to carry and birth babies. Their immature body may not be able to safely deliver, subjecting them to further trauma, anguish and medical complications that threaten their life and hope for the future. Even more mature victims of rape or incest suffer much of the same trauma, health risk and devastated future unless they have the autonomy to make their own choice.
Banning reproductive rights will exacerbate societal inequalities, falling disproportionately on families who are poor and those in rural areas with a shortage of health services. People denied a wanted abortion have four times greater odds of living below the Federal Poverty Level. A longitudinal study examining the effects of unwanted pregnancy shows that when people are unable to get wanted abortions, there are profound risks to their health and economic security as well as a shift in the trajectory of their lives with negative effects on their relationships, aspirational plans, and the wellbeing of their children. The study finds that those able to access the needed reproductive care are more financially stable, set more ambitious goals, raise children under more stable conditions, and are more likely to have a wanted child later.  This means that denying access to abortion care will detrimentally impact Indiana’s economic health and quality of life.
The Indiana legislature should take action to protect life by addressing our critical health care deficiencies. Indiana’s maternal mortality rate is the third highest in the U.S. (43.6 per 100,000)
and more than ten times higher than the best state’s rate.  Indiana infant mortality is 20 percent higher than the national average.  Indiana ranks 41 out of 50 as the best state to have a child. 
Funding to support services for all aspects of pregnancy, family and child welfare would demonstrate a deep concern for life and quality of life. But Indiana lacks basic needs including child care, universal pre-school, adequate foster care, parental support, health care, housing and even food. In this context, restricting reproductive health options serves as a political exercise of power, not a protection of life.
We urge legislators to support people’s constitutional right to privacy and autonomy regarding their body and reproductive health. And to focus on addressing Indiana’s deficiencies to enable all children and families to thrive.
You may wish to contact Brown County legislators, Representative Chris May at Indiana House of Representatives at (317) 232-9600 and Senator Eric Koch at (317) 232-9400 to let them know what action you support.
1 Turnaway Study: https://www.ansirh.org/research/ongoing/turnaway-study