Column: Starting a long-needed discussion on abortion

Instead of avoiding the issue, it’s time for us to finally have open discussions about whether or not abortions should be legal in the United States.

The case on abortion has been a popular topic in the political sector this past week. On April 7, Kansas became the first state to outlaw the safest and most common way of abortion in second-trimester pregnancies. The law, Senate Bill 95, prohibits the use of the dilation and evacuation method, which involves dilating the cervix and removing the fetus, according to The New York Times.

Abortions in Kansas have previously been allowed up to 22 weeks into the pregnancy, but this bill would ban abortions as soon as 14 weeks. The procedure, which is referred to as a “dismemberment abortion” in the bill, could force doctors to resort to less safe measures. The bill goes into effect July 1 and allows an exception for women who are in serious danger resulting from their pregnancy.

This is not a new and unexpected proposition from Kansas. Since Gov. Sam Brownback took office in 2011, more than 20 measures to outlaw different abortion methods have been enacted, according to NBC News. Some examples include restricting insurance companies from covering abortions, defining life from the time of fertilization and forcing women who need abortions to undergo many time-consuming steps, such as ultrasounds and listening to medically inaccurate lectures. A similar bill was passed in Oklahoma last Wednesday and is awaiting the governor’s signature, and bills such as this one are pending in South Carolina — and Missouri.

This new bill is dangerous in many respects. First, it eliminates the possibility for women who could not get an abortion in the first trimester, for whatever reason, to get an abortion at all. This method of abortion is only used in 8 to 9 percent of cases nationwide because nearly 90 percent of abortions are completed within the first-trimester. However, the method has been proven to be quite safe, and only 0.3 percent of abortions result in serious complications, according to Women’s Health Advice. Despite these statistics, legislators nationwide in 2015 have already imposed more than 300 restrictions.

Perhaps more importantly, this bill fails to take into account those that need an abortion because of rape or incest. The only exception that it takes into account is cases that physically harm the woman. Each year, about 10,000 to 15,000 abortions are from pregnancies attributed to incest or rape.

This is a major issue that the government is ignoring, and bills such as the one in Kansas are only further aggravating the situation. It’s completely invalidating the experiences of these women and their right to receive a legal abortion.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, also faced mixed reviews when he announced his stance on abortion April 7, which happened to be his first full day as a 2016 presidential candidate. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz engaged Paul in debate on whether he supports exemptions from restricting abortions. According to Bloomberg, Paul responded by saying, “Why don’t we ask the DNC: Is it OK to kill a seven-pound baby in the uterus?”

Paul has been celebrated as being one of the few Republicans to actually voice his opinions on abortion. These remarks have forced Americans to consider an uneasy topic of discussion: the legality of abortion near the end of a pregnancy. Polling data from Gallup has reported that Americans become less comfortable with abortions that occur further along in the pregnancy.

Nevertheless, Paul should not be hailed as the hero that some media outlets are making him out to be. Although he has opened the discussion on the legality of abortions within the governmental sector, which should be considered a large stepping stone, his views are still not clear. He is not taking a definitive position on either side; rather, he is treading lightly around the subject by asking the questioner another question, a tactic that has been used by Republicans as long as this subject has been contested. If the government is going to get anywhere with determining how the country should proceed with the stance on abortions, officials need to clearly discuss it out in the open instead of hiding their views in fear of not receiving enough support.

The debate on abortion is yet again receiving a lot of media coverage, yet the country is far from resolving the issue. The country, as a whole, needs to have debates and open disagreements on the subject instead of officials passing unjust laws and shielding themselves from public humiliation. We may be making some headway into the situation, but we need to dive deeper to uncover the true nature surrounding the debate on abortion.

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