Cat Cobb

On May 7, Georgia lawmakers passed a contested bill to outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat has been detected, which can occur as early as six weeks. Known as the “Heartbeat Bill,” this was the first of many anti-abortion bills across several southern states.

The most disturbing developments took place in Alabama and Ohio, where lawmakers failed to include a clause outlining exceptions to the ban in cases of rape and incest. These are some of the most extreme attacks on reproductive rights in history, and they have sparked mass controversy across the nation.

Many individuals in the pro-life movement have voiced their support for the bill, most notably the prominent pro-life organization Pro-Life Action League. As evident in their tweets, the pro-life movement intends to eliminate the option to obtain an abortion fully for all people who can experience pregnancy. This includes minors, people living in poverty and even 11-year-old victims of rape.

The pro-life movement is not pro-life. It is simply anti-choice. If the movement were truly pro-life and cared about the welfare of children, pro-life advocates would be outraged about the migrant children dying at the U.S. border, the thousands of children dying from poverty every year, children suffering in foster homes and the 11-year-old child who — had she been raped after this ban — would be legally forced to carry the fetus to term.

Furthermore, if pro-life advocates truly believe that a heartbeat defines a person, they would be outraged about hospital staff legally having the ability to pull the plug on brain-dead individuals despite presence of a heartbeat or that facilities discard fertilized embryos after IVF attempts, despite both cases having the same potential for life as an embryo in a womb.

It’s important to realize that the issue at hand isn’t truly concerning abortion; it is about controlling the rights of people who can get pregnant.

The reality is simple. As long as people have been able to get pregnant, there have been unplanned pregnancies, and as long as there have been unplanned pregnancies, there have been means to end said pregnancies, such as ingesting bleach or inserting knitting needles into the uterus. It’s something that has always existed and always will, legal or not.

Moreover, when safe abortion is illegal, the lives of pregnant people who want abortions are at stake. Illegal abortions have high mortality rates, and approximately 68,000 pregnant people die from unsafe abortion complications annually, including uterine perforations, poisoning and gangrene. These deaths can be prevented through safe abortion access.

The question is whether or not we as individuals have the right to govern others’ choices based on our own personal beliefs. The very foundation of the pro-choice movement is to understand that it is others’ prerogatives to do with their bodies as they choose. The pro-life movement simply seeks to greatly limit their options.

If these anti-abortion bills spread to North Carolina, the students of NC State will be directly affected. Recent abortion statistics indicate that individuals 20-24 years old accounted for 34% of nationwide abortions. These individuals choose abortion for countless reasons and deserve the freedom to choose.

Moreover, rape is a prevalent issue on every college campus, and NC State is no exception. Eliminating safe abortions for NC State students could force a pregnant survivor to give birth to their rapist’s baby or face persecution. Abortions are essential to the care of survivors, and such a bill would be a devastating blow.

It’s time to stop the abortion debate with the pro-life movement. It’s fine to have an opinion about abortion, but that opinion can only apply to yourself and your body. The bottom line is that you don’t have to like abortion. Maybe the thought of abortion makes you sad, and maybe you’d never choose to have an abortion if you experienced an unplanned pregnancy.

That’s all perfectly okay. The pro-choice movement will not force you to undergo an abortion against your wishes in the way that the pro-life movement will force you to unwillingly carry a pregnancy to term. That is the key difference between these two platforms.

What pro-life advocates misunderstand is that it is never okay to make decisions about someone else’s body and life. Trying to limit someone else’s reproductive choices and punish their decisions crosses the line from opinion to oppression.

I respect someone making decisions about their own reproductive health, be it pro-life or pro-choice, but what I will never respect is them trying to control mine.