Quora Question: How Important Are Women’s Reproductive Rights to Voters?

Anti-abortion demonstrators cheer as the ruling for Hobby Lobby was announced outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington June 30, 2014. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

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Answer from Marcia Peterson Buckie, third generation American.

I am 44 years old. I've had one life threatening, high risk pregnancy, and I've adopted a child.

I have as recently as a year ago used hormonal therapy to deal with severe dysmenorrhea. My health insurance is provided by my husband's employer: a Catholic affiliated healthcare system.

Over 10 years ago, I underwent 2 cycles of in-vitro fertilisation.

If certain factions of this country had their way, a personhood amendment would have made IVF illegal, as well as the birth control I take for primarily medical reasons. 

I am beyond grateful that I never faced this dilemma, but I've been close enough to the fire to state without reservation that the decision whether I die as a result of a life threatening pregnancy is one that is deeply personal and should not be made by people who do not know me.

I am prochoice of the safe, rare, legal school. I think access to birth control is the best way of reducing unexpected pregnancy and abortion. Why do I think that? Because it's been proven in other countries. (http://www.commondreams.org/head...)

How important is reproductive choice to me? Very. The roads people like Paul Ryan would take us down is tantamount to absolutely catastrophic public policy.

In countries where abortion is illegal, the abortion rate does not decrease, and in fact increases, along with maternal death.

In Texas, where abortion has been severely restricted, it appears DIY abortions are on the rise. (http://m.theatlantic.com/health/...)


Answer from Charlotte Lang.

I have not had to worry about getting or being pregnant for some time now, since my early thirties.

However, there is one thing that I don't think men completely understand about women. From the time we have our first period, to the day we are unable to get pregnant, either through menopause or because along the way we were rendered sterile, women are constantly thinking about being pregnant. CONSTANTLY.


Because being pregnant and having children is a very life changing event for women. It changes you emotionally, physically, and yes, it changes your life path. Despite all the noises men make about being a father, pregnancy changes women's lives far more than it does men's lives. We women have to think about it because we have to plan our lives around it, more so than men do.

Because women still are overwhelmingly the primary caregivers for children, women have to decide if they will continue working or going to school when they become pregnant. Deciding to opt out of either can have profound effects on a woman's ability to take care of herself and the children. In today's economy, people who don't have a well paying job will have a hard time economically, and people who don't finish their education or vocational training reduce their chances of getting those well-paid jobs. And people who stop working altogether find it very difficult to find a job after being out for any length of time -- women who stop working to raise kids have been finding it very difficult to impossible to get back into the workforce in the event of the death of the breadwinner, divorce, or simply wanting/needing to work again to shore up family finances after getting the kids in school. While there are men who do opt out of the workforce, their numbers are in no way comparable to women who do. Men are simply not under the pressure to leave the workforce to raise children that women are, particularly if the woman is part of a conservative culture that prioritizes the woman being the primary caregiver over the man.

7 Ways Women Can Opt Back Into the Workforce

Women undergo physical changes when they get pregnant that in some cases can really affect a woman's health to the point where she has to reduce her activity or where her life can be in jeopardy, as Marcia points out. Some women simply should not become pregnant for these reasons.

Not having access to reproductive care reduces women to the whims of their biology-getting pregnant becomes a random thing that can change their lives radically if they aren't ready or willing to be mothers, more so than it does men. It has been documented that in countries where birth control did not exist, when it has been introduced, women were able to have control over their life chances-finishing an education, holding down jobs so they could become self supporting, better reproductive health, and being able to control the number of children at a level they could responsibly raise and support.

Why we are still debating this is simply beyond me. Women should have access to birth control. Period. It is simply insane that there are factions of this society that simply cannot accept this. It is important to me that anyone who I help elect to public office thoroughly understands why having access to birth control is important to women. Because women's ability to provide for themselves and their health depend on maintaining maximum access to birth control. It has been documented that the single biggest predictor of poverty in adulthood IS to be a teenage single mother. Let me repeat: Being a teenage single mother is the SINGLE biggest predictor of poverty. This means we as a society pay the price for women who are unable to raise their kids because of an "oops" pregnancy -- we have to spend more public funds to support them, as the kids grow up, they are at risk for behavior that will keep them in poverty and/or result in incarceration or early death: drug use, gang membership, criminal activity, dropping out of school, etc.

A politician who does not understand the link between unplanned pregnancy and the resulting societal ills that can result from that, and who cannot understand what effect having access to birth control has on women's lives overall is in my mind,  simply incompetent and not fit to make decisions on public policy.

As I have said in my opening statement above,  my concern isn't personal; I can no longer have children and I do not rely on birth control for any health concerns. I am probably part of that 1% of women who do not use or need  birth control in any form whatsoever.  My concern is about the well being of women in general, as well as my personal desire to not see women go through unwanted pregnancies as well as abortions. I would much rather see women have access to as much contraception as necessary to prevent the human misery that we see every day in our poorest areas. Children who are born to women who are not able to take care of them are forced to endure lives that are miserable, and in some cases, brutally short because their mothers cannot provide for them or care for them properly. And women who cannot realize their full potential and have their life choices truncated because of an unexpected pregnancy that will consign them to poverty is simply a tragic waste of human potential. I would think that anyone sane would prefer that women have birth control over abortions.

And for those women who don't believe in birth control: You are absolutely free NOT to use it. You can be the Duggar family all you want. But you don't get the right to force OTHER women to be the Duggar family.

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