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Youth Rights & The Abortion Question

Protesters supporting abortion rights. This summer saw abundant protests nationwide after the decision on Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.(Photo courtesy of Gregg Pachkowski)

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court overturned the ruling status quo set by the decision on the Roe vs. Wade case from half a century ago. At a time when healthcare is top of mind for many after going through an ongoing pandemic and with our national health infrastructure grappling with its response to the pandemic for the last two years, basic rights of autonomy regarding maternal care are now being called into question, even for those needing an abortion for whatever reason. In this fray, youth are caught up in a mess of politics in which they still don’t have a say.

Take this case last month in Florida for example: recently, a parentless young woman applied to get an abortion on the grounds that she cannot care for the child. However, she was denied on the basis that she lacked “maturity” to make a sufficient decision for herself, despite her being the one most affected by the decision making around her, forcing her to carry a child to term despite not having a means to care for the child.

The 16-year old girl had to navigate tons of paperwork just to get a hearing in the first place, and despite being of working-age, and therefore paying taxes on any kind of work she could secure, she was deemed immature to get an abortion. One could argue if this had been in a state where there are active efforts to lower the voting age, or in places where it has been lowered, like several municipalities in Maryland, that could have been brought up as an argument to show that if one is mature enough to select their elected representatives to represent them in government, then one should be mature enough to make decisions on their own behalf on health issues that affects their own body. However, this isn’t the case.

If you think efforts to make voting more difficult for people from last year was hard, imagine being denied an abortion on the grounds that, “Yes, despite you being of working & childbearing-age, carrying a developing child to term within your own body, eligible to pay taxes on income you earn from employment, autonomous enough to get a vaccine without parental consent to stop the spread of a virus that caused a global pandemic, we still deem you not mature enough to make a health decision that will affect the course of your life despite not having any means to support the life of the child you now carry.” Many who seek out abortions in the first place are the people who don’t always have a means to care for themselves, let alone another life.

When you consider that, like the efforts to make voting harder, there are yet others who are making abortion harder as well, even after the results of overturning the national status quo regarding abortions, then you have a catastrophic mix of individuals unable to make decisions about their own healthcare, let alone elected representatives, while the need to support unplanned births in communities nationwide. This benefits no one.

Lowering the voting age nationwide through House Joint Resolution 23 demonstrates the impact for not only working-age youth to have a say in how the taxed income from their earnings are used by their elected representatives, but to also have a say in their own healthcare with regards to maternal care decisions.

-Jester Jersey

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