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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Guest Column: We must be unapologetic in demanding safe abortion

Abortion — It’s not a bad word, but it’s one that makes a lot of people nervous. But that’s exactly why we have to talk about abortions and humanize those who have them.
Bryan-College Station  is considered the home of the anti-choice movement in Texas, so as the president of Feminists for Reproductive Equity and Education, FREE, I often get the question, “How do you make a change in a hostile or apathetic environment?” 
Sometimes I wonder the same thing. Ultimately, I know we have to change the conversation around abortion. The right and ability to make informed, destigmatized personal decisions about our own bodies is fundamental, no matter our circumstances. 
Abortion has not been accessible in the B-CS area since the Planned Parenthood Center for Choice in Bryan was closed in 2013. Now, the closest clinics are more than 100 miles away from Texas A&M. Abortion clinics are being replaced by an influx of state-funded crisis pregnancy centers, CPCs. CPCs, like Hope Pregnancy Center, are not healthcare clinics or comprehensive pregnancy resources. In a 2015 report, “Crisis Pregnancy Centers Lie: The Insidious Threat to Reproductive Freedom,” NARAL Pro-Choice America details manipulative and predatory tactics used by CPCs, such as shame, misinformation and intimidation to keep people from choosing abortion. 
For example, the report cited CPC claims that abortion causes an increased risk of breast cancer, a claim disproven by many medical associations, including the National Cancer Institute. Additionally, because CPCs are not medical clinics and do not have to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, HIPAA, they’re not required to assure patients’ medical records are safe, confidential and private. Ultimately, CPCs are not equipped to handle the nuances of unintended, unwanted or medically dangerous pregnancies and create a potentially dangerous situation for people trying to find correct, unbiased information about all of their options.
In one word, the current Texas A&M climate towards abortion is “complex.” Through FREE’s many one-on-one conversations, we’ve learned people have mixed feelings about the terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life.” I’ve heard many people ask, “Well, I wouldn’t have an abortion, but other people should be able to, so which label do I use?” It’s clear these labels have complicated connotations, so FREE talks about social and reproductive realities beyond these labels with the hope of erasing abortion stigma and educating people so they can make their own informed decisions. 
On March 2, I traveled with two other FREE officers to Washington D.C. to rally outside the Supreme Court against Texas House Bill 2. HB2 places medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion and makes abortion virtually inaccessible, particularly for poor and working class people, undocumented people and people of color. Additionally, House Bill 3994, effective since January 2016, excessively hinders minors’ abortion access. 
People deserve to access their rights, no matter their circumstances — that’s why our community must change the conversation about abortion.
We talk about what we know — medical abortion is a safe and legal procedure, and there is not only one type of person who has an abortion. Barriers and restrictions to abortion are based on misogyny, racism, classism and ageism. Senator Dianne Feinstein notes, “In no other circumstance would we restrict medical care until the patient is at risk of death.” We also know that abortion stigmas do not decrease abortion overall — they only shame and ostracize people and communities.
We must be unapologetic in demanding safe abortion. As Aggies, we must talk compassionately about abortion as a responsible choice and tell people that pregnancy is not a punishment for having sex. We want Aggies to recognize women, transgender men and non-binary people as capable human beings that shouldn’t have to fight for compassionate care. We all deserve a choice.
Laura Reid is president of Feminists for Reproductive Equity and Education (F.R.E.E.) and a psychology senior. 

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