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Position Statement on Abortion
In light of the recent and ongoing legislation restricting access to safe, legal abortions, AASECT affirms the importance of access to abortion for all people in line with our Vision of Sexual Health, as well many of our partners in sexual health promotion such as the WHO, WAS, and SIECUS.
This is not the first time that access to abortion has been challenged; however, the abortion restriction that Texas set into law on September 1, 2021, which bans abortions at about six weeks from the patient’s last menstrual period, is a regression in legislation that we must take seriously. Additionally, as of December 2021, the Supreme Court began hearing a case regarding the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi law that, if upheld, would overturn the 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which asserted that the right to abortion is protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Court is expected to deliver its final ruling in June of 2022, and if Roe v. Wade is overturned at that time, 21 states are already prepared with “trigger laws” that would drastically limit legal, safe abortion for tens of millions of U.S. citizens.
We recognize that decisions about induced abortion have the potential to be nuanced and complex. We also recognize that such restrictions place a majority of the burden on marginalized populations, including women of color, transgender men, nonbinary people of color, people of low socioeconomic status, survivors of sexual violence, and those who live in rural areas. For people whose bodies already experience undue scrutiny, surveillance, and harm, this law further removes access to privacy and disrupts trust within communities, especially in situations such as the Texas legislation in which the law is designed to be enforced by civilians.
The ongoing conversation about abortion is not simply a moral or a spiritual debate— it is a discussion of human rights and bodily autonomy for all people who can become pregnant. Laws that restrict access to safe induced abortions violate the sexual rights outlined by the World Association of Sexual Health (WAS). In its Declaration of Sexual Rights (2014), WAS discussed the “right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual health” stating that this includes “the availability, accessibility, and acceptability of quality health services….”. These existing laws and ongoing attempts to further restrict abortion access will not stop induced abortions, but instead will create excessive burdens on already marginalized populations, and drastically increase medical risks of pregnant individuals seeking to induce abortion for a variety of reasons.
As an organization, AASECT stands solidly in support of access to abortion as a necessary form of sexual and reproductive health services.