It's a topic that can be divisive, but we can't ignore that abortion is being discussed all over America right now and it is something many mothers have strong feelings about.
There has to be room for different viewpoints in this national discussion, but we also have to make room for the facts.
Here are 10 facts you need to know about abortion in America:
1. Abortion has been legal in the United States since the Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, but the debate over access to abortion has never ceased. States can attempt to make abortion illegal within their borders, as Alabama just proved, although even Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey acknowledged the bill she recently signed into law may be unenforceable and is destined for a long legal battle.
2. Alabama is not the only state looking to make changes to abortion laws. While Alabama's new law bans abortion, lawmakers in other states, including Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio have recently voted in favor of significantly limiting abortion.
None of these laws are in effect yet and are likely to be challenged, so abortion is still legal across America right now.
3. Even prior to the recent push to restrict abortion access in the United States, abortion rates were at a record low according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, dropping 26% since 2006. And America is part of a wider trend here. In wealthy countries where access to legal abortion and contraception has increased, abortion rates have declined.
4. According to the CDC, 91% of abortions in America happen at or before 13 weeks gestation, but some lawmakers are focused on the rare abortions that happen later than that. This week the Alabama House passed a bill that would require physicians to attempt to save the life of any baby born after an attempted abortion. Failing to do so could result in a prison sentence of 20 years. Critics of the law point out that Alabama already does not allow abortions at a point in gestation where this would be an issue.
5. Roe v. Wade does not specify which gestational week abortion can be performed until. It only protects the right to abortion prior to viability. But as medical technology advances, potential viability gets earlier and earlier in gestation. Compared to many countries in the European Union, many states allow abortion further along in gestation. In the EU, most countries only allow abortion up to 12 weeks. The exceptions are Sweden, which allows it until 18 weeks, the Netherlands, which set the limit at 22 weeks, and the United Kingdom, where abortions are available until 24 weeks gestation.
6. Most people choosing abortion are living below the poverty line. Some states keep records of the reasons why pregnant people choose abortion. In Florida so far this year, social or economic issues are among the top reasons people choose abortion.
7. Recent polls suggest that both Republican and Democratic voters believe abortion issues will impact how they vote in 2020. This is a hot topic issue that will not be going away soon.
8. America is split pretty evenly when it comes to this issue. According to that Gallup poll an equal percentage (48%) of Americans identify as either "pro-choice" or "pro-life".
9. Most of the people who have abortions in America (59%) have already given birth to a child. Many women who are aborting pregnancies are already mothers. One in four American women will have an abortion by age 45.
10. People on both sides of this debate genuinely believe that either banning or supporting access to abortion is in the best interest of women and children. This is an issue that can cause emotions and tempers to flare. In times like these, it's easy to see people with viewpoints different from our own as the enemy, but if we want the national discussion on abortion to be productive instead of polarizing we need to have empathy for those on either side.
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