The Council on Anthropology and Reproduction (CAR) Opposes Legislation that Creates Barriers to Safe Abortion Care
What Is CAR?
The Advocacy Committee of the Council on Anthropology and Reproduction (CAR), a special interest group of the Society for Medical Anthropology, seeks to ensure that anthropologists have a voice in public conversations about reproductive and sexual rights and health. CAR is a U.S.-based organization whose members come from and work in a variety of countries and settings. Our membership holds that sexual and reproductive health are fundamental to human rights and the well-being of societies around the globe. Our global orientation makes us sensitive to and knowledgeable about women’s and men’s fundamental need for reproductive and sexual health services. Our collective expertise provides research-based commentary and critical perspectives on parenting, childbearing, infertility, obstetrics, midwifery, contraception, abortion, adoption, and reproductive technologies. In addition, CAR takes a special interest in women’s and men’s lived experiences of reproductive policies, both domestic and foreign. Many CAR members are also educators who oppose policies that deliberately provide incomplete, misleading, or inaccurate information about sexual health and reproductive options. We pledge to educate ourselves, educate others, and, most importantly, to act. On this occasion, CAR joins other activists and public health advocates in opposing recent legislation aimed at curtailing access to abortion in the United States.
CAR Opposes State and Federal Legislation that Creates Barriers to Safe Abortion Care
Since 2010, legislation restricting rights and access to abortion has been introduced and passed at both state and federal levels at an unprecedented rate. More than half of all states now have laws that: (1) impose restrictions on abortion providers through the Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws; (2) mandate wait-times and mandatory ultrasound viewings prior to receiving an abortion; and/or (3) reduce the gestational age for legal abortion.
Anthropologists working in countries where abortion has been outlawed or is otherwise inaccessible have documented the social, economic, and emotional impacts that such restrictions have on women, their families, and broader communities (e.g., Kligman 1998). Unsafe abortion continues to be one of the leading causes of maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide. Moreover, the burden of both unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions disproportionately impact poor, young, rural, and minority communities, both in the United States and abroad.
CAR members recognize the need for evidence-based, non-partisan health policies to ensure that abortions are provided in safe, legal, and supportive environments by qualified practitioners. However, we argue that the main purpose of recent legislation is to limit or eliminate access to abortion rather than to ensure women’s health and wellbeing. Restricting access to safe and legal abortion forces women to make the difficult decision between continuing with an unintended pregnancy, expending needed resources to travel to areas where abortion is more readily available, or undergoing a clandestine and potentially unsafe abortion procedure. By undermining each woman’s ability to determine what is best for herself, her family, and her future, laws restricting access to abortion do harm to women, their families, and their communities…