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Texas Supreme Court ruling is a landmark victory for women

This week, the Supreme Court of the United States protected access to safe, legal abortion by blocking two unconstitutional Texas restrictions that threatened to close all but nine health centers in the entire state. The Court, referring to state-legislated medical restrictions placed upon abortion providers, recognized that “neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.”

This landmark ruling is an enormous win for women. Since 2011, state lawmakers have passed more than 316 restrictions on safe, legal abortion and, according to Guttmacher, have introduced 442 in the first six months of 2016 alone. The two unconstitutional Texas restrictions called into question are known as TRAP laws, An acronym for “targeted regulations of abortion providers,” TRAP legislation imposes onerous and often costly regulations on health centers that provide abortions — requirements that are not imposed on other medical facilities.

Those who support TRAP legislation often do so under the guise of “protecting women’s health,” but as the Supreme Court just noted, that guise is a complete sham.

Florida is no stranger to TRAP laws or politically motivated restrictions on abortion access. Since Gov. Rick Scott took office in 2011, we have seen state legislators sponsor over 50 bills attacking access to reproductive health. This includes an all-out abortion ban, one of the most extreme in the nation, which would ban abortion in Florida with no exceptions for incest or rape. It also includes 24-hour mandatory delay; passed in 2015, this law forces women seeking access to a safe and legal abortion to visit a health center, meet with a physician, leave and then come back at least 24 hours later to access the procedure. Delay laws have no health benefits and have only resulted in increased expenses, travel difficulties, and medical risks for Florida’s women.

The Supreme Court recognizing that TRAP laws do not enhance patient safety is a victory for reproductive health and rights, but it will not instantly undo the past five years of damage or the 316 abortion restrictions already written into law.

Far too many women still face insurmountable barriers to safely accessing their legal right to have an abortion. As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood has seen the devastating consequences for women in states such as Texas, where officials have prioritized their own political agendas over the health of the communities they were elected to serve. Across the country, women are already traveling hundreds of miles, crossing state lines and waiting weeks to get an abortion, if they can at all. This often has a disproportionate impact on communities of color, who already face systemic barriers in accessing quality health care.

That is why we are taking this fight state by state. We will not be punished, and we will not go back. It’s time to pass state laws to protect a woman’s constitutional right to abortion and repeal ones that block it. No woman or doctor should be punished for receiving or providing essential medical care.

This Friday Florida’s HB1411 is set to become law. This legislation, an omnibus anti-reproductive health care bill, would mandate medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion providers, redefine gestational age in the face of science, put patient privacy at risk and defund Planned Parenthood, stripping away access to preventative care for thousands of Floridians.

Planned Parenthood has sued the state of Florida and is asking a federal court to grant an emergency relief and stop this bad bill from becoming law. We will do whatever it takes to ensure that all people in Florida have access to a full range of reproductive health care options — we are not going anywhere, and we will not back down.

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Anna V. Eskamani is a UCF alumna and serves as senior director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida. She will begin her Ph.D. at UCF in public affairs this fall.

Abortion is morally, fundamentally wrong 

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Texas laws that would’ve restricted womens' access to abortions.

Personally, I don’t view this as an issue of Republicans versus Democrats — I am neither — nor about restricting or liberating a woman’s access to an abortion: I view it as whether the zygote, the fetus, is already living or not. From my research, I view what is in the womb as a living part of the human species; therefore, I conclude that abortion is murder, immoral and should be prevented.

If people are to have a philosophical discussion about abortion, they must be intellectually candid and admit facts about the discussion. First and foremost, everyone that talks about abortion has benefitted [sic] from not being aborted, in that they are experiencing life: not being aborted allows individuals a chance to reach their full potential in utilizing their autonomy. Assuming that these are rational people who are not planning suicide, they must value life over death, since they are still here.

Secondly, the fact that if nature takes its course with the pregnancy, and the parents obligingly do everything in their power to provide for the fetus, the fetus will eventually leave the womb and will no longer rely on the mother to breathe. However, the baby will still rely on the parents as agents to feed him, keep him warm, educate him, love him and protect him. The only literal difference will be that the baby will not need to rely on the mother to breathe; there is no real moral difference between the baby being in the womb or outside of the womb. In fact, around nine weeks in the womb, the baby emulates breathing motions that will prepare him for life outside of the mother.

If you were to get rid of the bundle of cells that exist within a mother, you will be depriving the world of a being that is autonomous and self-aware, which is much different than if one were to rid the world of a maggot: Then, you would be depriving the world of a fly and only that.

Conception is when the sperm and egg start working to create more and more cells, during which the path to life has begun. I don’t think one can define something being alive as self-aware, because I have not yet heard of a way to prove self-awareness in an organism. I also don’t subscribe to the idea that since the baby hasn’t had consciousness yet, it can’t know or feel it is alive because this argument neglects that what is growing in the mother is, in fact, a part of our species, and our species is the only one capable of being self-aware.

Those who disagree and label life beginning sometime after conception, but not at conception, have a difficult task of proving at exactly what point is terminating a pregnancy murder or simply an abortion of an organism that never knew of its existence. I also beg the question: Who are individuals to determine who lives and who dies, in the sense that by simply existing, the fetus should be punished?

I think systems could be put in place that would prevent unwanted pregnancies from existing. I think a lot of these pregnancies stem from the availability of abortion services, which allows individuals to escape consequences of their actions, as well as societal and cultural reinforcement and inadequate parenting. I think abortions should only be reserved for deathly emergencies. I don’t view abortion as a fundamental right, for it’s ultimately the baby’s body: The woman is the guardian.

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Dylan Young is a Contributing Columnist for the Central Florida Future.

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