Dear Future President,
My name is Lily Levine, and I am a sixteen-year old girl living in Los Angeles, California. Even in my everyday life, I experience and witness patriarchy and gender-based prejudice: for example, wage inequality, pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, and objectification and stereotypes. I attend an all-girls school in which we are encouraged to participate and are taught the skills required to become a future leader. In fact, one of our core values is confidence, and we are surrounded by ideas of feminism through our teachers, the books we read, the clubs that we create, and the aspects of history that we explore. Therefore, abortion should be kept legal, because it is the woman’s right to make decisions regarding her body, and not the government’s.
There are many factors that contribute to women wanting an abortion, such as financial and relationship instability and unplanned pregnancies. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 49% of patients in 2014 had incomes of 100-199% of the federal poverty level. This percentage, which is nearly half of all cases, displays that many women could not financially support another human being. If she were to have the child, just getting enough food and water would be a challenge, let alone a sufficient home, electricity, plumbing, transportation, and education. To add, the American Sociological Review in 2010 found that women earned less income when they had children, equivalent to a 15% earnings penalty. This only contributes to their immense poverty. Unintended conceptions are also another factor. In a three-year long study, researchers found that there were approximately 32,100 pregnancies resulting from rape, with 32.4% not knowing they were pregnant until the second trimester, and 50% undergoing abortion. Many of these cases affect teenagers, just like me. This alarming number indicates that many conceptions are nonconsensual and are due to sexual violence. For a woman, a baby conceived from victimization can remind her of her past trauma and create feelings of resentment, shame, or neglect; this is unhealthy for both the parent and child. Teenage pregnancies, from either abuse or from lack of protection, also lead to abortions because the girl is not mentally prepared to be a mother and already has a set plan for the future, which could include college. Each case is individual and circumstantial, but the need for legal abortion is prevalent.
While many people are pro-life for religious and moral reasons, statistics display that many patients still have religious affiliations and 43 states have limits in place for when they will not operate. Even though the Catholic and Lutheran churches oppose abortion, a 2008 US Religious Landscape Survey writes that 51% of Catholic members and 48% of Lutheran members support abortion. Already, the United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, and Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations are officially pro-choice. Furthermore, a CNN graph from 2016 depicts that 24% of women who have had abortions are Catholic, 17% are Protestant, and 13% are Evangelical. Many people also argue that the Bible never explicitly condemns abortion, but rather others have interpreted it that way. Lastly, pro-choice supporters may consider abortion to be murder and claim that it causes pain to the unborn fetus during the procedure. However, as written in in “Fetal Viability” by Franklin Foer in 1997, personhood begins only after a fetus becomes viable. Approximately 21 states prohibit procedures at this point, easing assertions.
The court case Roe v. Wade decided in 1973 that abortion is a “fundamental right that is protected by the Constitution.” It is not only a right, but it also represents the freedom of choice and protects women’s bodies. As recent as April 1, 2016, at least half of the states have imposed regulations on clinics, revealing that this movement is still pertinent. I urge you, as president, to speak up for women’s rights and instill equality in the United States, for your mother, for your sister, for your daughter, and for all generations to come. I thank you for your time and hope that you will take this letter into consideration.