Huffpost College

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Dana Benyas Headshot

You Can Have a Choice Only if You Have Money

Posted: Updated:

Having accessibility to an abortion felt like a God-given right the way that I was raised. My parents and friends are unapologetically pro-choice, I would always have the means to attain the procedure, I have health insurance from my parents, I can even afford preventative birth control, I have high expectations for my career path, which is incongruent with having a child right now, and of course it is legal. In fact, I did not know anyone who was pro-life growing up except for the one house in my town that posted pro-life lawn signs to which they received dirty looks and negative town chatter. Life starting at conception was not a tenant of the religion I was raised in, and I deduced a similar conclusion for myself. I would never be placed in a contentious position between my beliefs, my religion's beliefs, and the people that matter most to me.

Hypothetically I knew that there were people who believed abortion is murder and frankly I understood how they felt and respected their views. I never interpreted pro-life views as a threat to my own personal decisions because abortion is after all a legal procedure. Today, I feel differently. Today I see legal action that minimizes accessibility and affordability of abortion most effectively impacting women with fewer resources. Today there are a record low number of abortion procedures in the United States in part because of increased contraception and in part because of insurmountable barriers created by a politically powerful minority.

Over the past couple of years in Michigan private interest groups like Right to Life of Michigan, politicians, and religious figureheads have slowly legalized their agenda to minimize abortion statistics through punitive laws for women who seek such medical services. The most recent attempt to debunk a woman's accessibility is the Abortion Opt-Out Act that will wipe out abortion insurance coverage from all private and public plans unless families and businesses purchase an additional insurance rider exclusively to cover abortion. That is of course if they speak with infomercial psychic Ms. Cleo who can predict having an unintended pregnancy even in the event of rape, incest, or life endangerment. This Act like many others does not portray the wishes of the public since it passed through a political loophole that represents 4.2% of Michigan's populous.

From an insurance perspective I would like to pose a Passover Pun: why is this procedure different from all other procedures? We all contribute to the collective insurance pot that covers procedures disagreeable to us and critical to others. Why should abortion be any different? The realities of who will purchase an additional rider for abortion, and the cumbersome cost of such a procedure for the economically stretched leaves women with overwhelming limitations on their legal right to choice. We say we don't want people to smoke and yet when people do and develop lung cancer we cannot morally withhold treatment -- but we do withhold treatment for an abortion.

Other laws were put in place to incite guilt and trickery like prohibiting doctors who work for a state-funded women's health service from referring patients elsewhere for an abortion. Some clinics with a personal agenda falsely tell women they are further along in their pregnancy than they really are and therefore are not eligible to obtain an abortion. Other states scare patients by requiring that doctors run through long term health consequences that result from an abortion, although these consequences are not found to be accurate nor supported by the medical community. Delusive information is even spread to youths with sex education programs not requiring medically accurate information. In other words, exaggerated statistics are used to deter students from having sex at all and exclude accurate preventative resources for the many students who become sexually active in high school and later in life. By disseminating deceptive information, we are in fact taking knowledge and power away from people. Michigan is not even the most restrictive of states with abortion policy.

All of these circular mechanisms entrap women with financial and emotional burdens that actualize into limited freedom. Even worse, these policies prey on poor and uneducated women who would suffer more greatly from supporting a child they did not plan for. I envision a white, wealthy religious (but not of my religion) man sitting at a pulpit and telling women how they are allowed to carry out their lives. Oh wait, this is not my imagination, this is what happens in our government. Yes, I was born into a family that is financially comfortable, but that should not make me more deserving of my constitutional right to have an abortion than a woman who does not have the means and toolkits to do so. If America, a nation that is supposedly admired for individual freedom, can only provide such freedoms for its affluent citizens then what kind of a message are we sending to the rest of the world about a woman's right to dictate her own life. Ladies, gird your groins because we are not subject to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.