Until the latter third of the 19th century, abortion was a prevalent practice in the United States. During that time, the practice was criminalized by the states. Through the distribution of lethal herbs, colonial physicians promoted abortion (Pollit, 1997). As a result, abortions were rampant in the United States. In the 1820s and 1830s, the United States government enacted poison control laws that prohibited the sale of abortifacients to reduce the risk associated with these herbs (Pollit, 1997). Even after the enactment of regulating regulations, the abortion industry flourished, attracting notable figures such as Madame Restell for thirty-five years (Pollit, 1997). Professor Madame Restell changed course, however, and began advocating against abortion (Pollit, 1997). The American Medical Association replaced midwives and homeopaths with regular physicians. Despite this, abortion-related crimes were made public.
Consequently, this provoked women and individuals apprehended during an abortion raid. These sent a message to women who planned to continue operating abortion clinics (Pollit, 1997). The media brought abortion and sexually-related cases to the attention of the relevant authorities. In addition, the government has granted the Supreme Court the authority to permit states in the United States to impose restrictions on abortion (Pollit, 1997). For instance, they were denying women who wanted abortion access to public funds and providing them with counseling services.
Roe Wade was instrumental in the fight for women’s rights in the United States. In the seminal decision Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court employed a voting system to decide women’s constitutional rights on abortion (Langer, 2017). The Supreme Court acknowledged an individual’s freedom to make an abortion decision by a vote of 7-2. The court ruled that the right to abortion is fundamental; therefore, there is no government intervention in abortion-related matters (Langer, 2017).
The ruling compelled women to make decisions that prioritized education and employment. The Supreme Court’s judgment shielded women’s rights to privacy, protecting personal and private matters like marriage, contraception, child-rearing, and procreation, from government involvement. Roe advocated for gender equality in economic, educational, and political matters by granting women the right to make their own decisions, especially regarding pregnancy. Legalizing abortion made it easier and safer for women to seek abortion services in the country, resulting in a decline in fetal instances (Langer, 2017).
The reversal of Roe v. Wade, which eliminates the protection of abortion rights, is a massive setback for the advancement of women’s rights in the United States, particularly for the poor and ethically minority races such as blacks. Before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the United States already trailed greatly in the global rankings of women’s rights (Langer, 2017). The relationship between abortion protection and the level of women’s rights can be determined by examining and contrasting worldwide abortion regulation laws and policies.
Global Abortion Regulation Policies and Laws
Abortion is a worldwide issue that rules and legislation must regulate. The laws are perceived differently in each country. In Iceland, for instance, abortion was permitted under certain conditions, including medical and social ones (Henry et al., 2022). If pregnancy posed a threat to the woman’s life, abortion was permissible. For example, if the woman cannot care for the pregnant child or the fetus has severe congenital problems (Henry et al., 2022). Other conditions and rules guaranteed abortion if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest. Women were also permitted abortions if they were in a challenging familial situation or if their own or their partner’s health prevented them from caring for the child. Women who undergo an abortion in Iceland receive counseling before and during the procedure. This includes education regarding contraception. A woman who performs an illegal abortion faces five to seven years in prison. The Icelandic government allowed abortion through the 22nd week of pregnancy in 2019 (Henry et al., 2022).
From 1977 to 1998, the abortion rate in Iceland increased exponentially by 130 percent, from 9.5 abortions per 1000 women to 22 abortions per 1000 women (Henry et al., 2022). Due to insufficient contraception or limited sex education, Iceland has the highest number of reported abortion cases among Nordic countries.
Prohibiting abortion in El Salvador violates gender equality and the abortion ban. As a result, women’s rights to life, autonomy, and health are violated. The criminalization of abortion violates human rights such as the right to privacy, freedom from violence, and the right to gender equality (Henry et al., 2022). The level of gender equality has led to an increase in cases involving abortion complications reported to the police, deterring women from seeking competent healthcare services, particularly during obstetric emergencies (Henry et al., 2022). The widespread fear in El Salvador has made it impossible for women to seek medical care. Grave and significant violation of women, particularly in the circumstances involving police investigations and prosecutions in which women are handled unfairly. The enforcement of abortion-related regulations in El Salvador has resulted in devastating consequences, particularly in healthcare centers and hospitals where women are unfairly targeted and punished (Henry et al., 2022).
Women admitted to the emergency room for hemorrhaging are considered to have broken the law. In addition, the time women have spent in penitentiary institutions has resulted in significant difficulties for women who face discrimination in the workplace due to their criminal histories, stigma as a result of being incarcerated, and emotional suffering due to gender inequity.
Analysis of the Connection between Abortion Regulation and Women’s Rights in The Country
The relationship between abortion regulation and women’s rights in Iceland is intertwined with the country’s emphasis on gender equality. The law of Iceland respects the equality of men and women (Henry et al., 2022). Therefore, the act on maternity was enacted in Iceland to recognize abortion regulations, which recognize abortion if the condition of both or one of the parents or the family does not guarantee care for the unborn child (Henry et al., 2022). However, the legislation compels both parents to acknowledge work and the child as family members and provides the youngster access to both parents.
Abortion is considered a crime for impoverished women, although it is legal for wealthy women. Restrictions placed on poor women affect them and keep them in poor circles for an extended period of time, depriving them of their rights. For example, the right to get abortion services in emergencies or the inability to access contraceptives (Langer, 2017). Due to the limits and costs imposed by anti-abortion laws, poor and ethnic minorities endure social and bodily harm (Langer, 2017). Furthermore, stringent abortion laws in developing and underdeveloped nations discriminate against women since society members perceive abortion as disrespect for human life (Langer, 2017). Thus, reducing stigma, distress, and an increased likelihood of violating the rights of women.
The law consistently promotes gender equality and gender balance, thus, making the woman enjoy equal rights as men. However, the rights of women in the country, for example, in the US are determined by the abortion law. Women have unrestricted access to safer and legal abortion programs but they are not widely accessible (Langer, 2017). Accessibility to abortion services is hindered by stringent legal procedures and a substantial amount of money, which discriminates against women. The freedom of abortion equips women with the means to fight for their rights in the political arena and provides them with equal educational and economic opportunities (Langer, 2017). Moreover, poor and vulnerable women in American culture have restricted access to safe abortion resources (Langer, 2017), Consequently, causing vulnerable and ethically minor races in the United States to feel discriminated against.
Gender equality and equal protection under the law are crucial for the growth of nations. Nevertheless, the restriction of women’s abortion rights defines women’s rights to a greater extent. In El Salvador, the illegality of abortion has resulted in several disadvantages for women, including stigmatization and unequal treatment. Those who are admitted owing to abortion-related charges are deemed to be incarcerated criminals; this causes women emotional pain. Despite this, liberal abortion laws promote equality and gender parity. In the United States, the elimination of abortion laws facilitated gender equality, allowing women to make economic decisions and participate in the political arena. In contrast, eliminating abortion rights could deprive the fundamental rights of the poor. The impoverished may lack access to medical care for abortion-related cases.
Unlike women with little means, women with ample resources have uninterrupted access to abortion services. In addition, the poor suffer socially and physically because of the limits imposed by anti-abortion laws, causing them to feel discriminated against. Thus, the reversal of Roe v. Wade marks a tremendous setback for the advancement of women’s rights and gender equality in the United States, as it disregards the most disadvantaged members of society. Poor women may not have access to contraceptives; accordingly, they will be forced to carry out their pregnancies, making it difficult to fund their living expenditures, particularly after giving birth.
Henry, P. J., Steiger, R. L., & Bellovary, A. (2022). The contribution of gender equality to the coexistence of progressive abortion and sexual orientation laws. Sex Roles, 86(3), 263-281. Web.
Langer, E. (2017). Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide, dies at 69. Washington Post. Web.
Pollitt, K. (1997). Abortion in American History. The Atlantic. Web.