Criminalizing abortion won’t stop desperate women from ending pregnancy

Posted 8 May 2022 at 3:24 pm


You may have noticed that young people seem to be maturing physically at younger ages. A few generations ago average age of first menstruation in girls was about 16 years of age, an indicator if sexual maturity; marriage often happened within the next year or so. Just ask grandma.

Today the average age for first menstruation is 12.4 years. There is concern if menses haven’t occurred by 15 years. Early sexual maturity is a problem. Sexual activity or early marriage is not socially acceptable in this society. Minimum marriage ages are set to prevent child marriages in the US. Parental consent is required until age 18. Social maturity and education are prerequisites to parenthood.

Before abortion legalization (1973, Roe v. Wade), thousands of teens and preteens in America died at the end of a coat hanger. Girls and women died regularly from illegal abortions, a dire public health issue. According to the CDC the number of legal abortions in the US peaked in 1981 at 29.3 abortions per 1,000 females of childbearing age. By 2019 the rate was 11.3/1,000 females of childbearing age, a reduction of approximately two thirds.

Today, more parents talk to their kids about sexuality. Research-based, comprehensive secular sexual education has been developed; it’s more than biology, assertiveness, refusal and goal setting life skills are vital components.

Age-appropriate HIV/AIDS education was mandated; young people needed to know the risks beyond pregnancy that come with sexual behavior. Abstinence and delay of sexual activity have always been key concepts.

Cheap, effective birth control and improved access to women’s health care have become more widely available. Reproductive choice has empowered women, their role in society has evolved in the last 50 years.

Criminalization of abortion will not stop desperate women; it will threaten human life again. Reversing an established fundamental human right is a direct threat to democracy. We will not quietly go back to the 1950s.

Carol Nochajski