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According to a reproductive rights expert

NEW YORK — As abortion access and reproductive rights hang in the balance for many women in this country, we examine the personal impact of these hard-won rights and the potential for some to lose them.

Annie Trombatore Peltzer cuddles her eldest child Rhodes and her newborn daughter Lila, born 6 months ago thanks to in vitro fertilization, or IVF.

“It will change her life, for sure. And it will change her life. She wouldn’t be here,” Peltzer said.

In 2016, at age 26, Peltzer knew she wanted kids, but not right away. So she underwent the grueling process of hormone injections and egg retrieval to freeze embryos with the man who would become her husband.

“Fast forward to getting pregnant with Rhodes, and it happened naturally. We didn’t need to use it. Then last year, trying to conceive with her, we tried for about a year, without success, so we were really happy that we made those choices,” Peltzer said.

But Peltzer’s story has only been possible for about 40 years, and may no longer be possible for women in places like Alabama, where IVF is in limbo after the state Supreme Court ruled that embryos are human beings.

From restrictions on abortion to bans on IVF, women’s reproductive rights in the United States have never been more uncertain.

“This idea of ​​choice: Who has a choice, right? People who want to become parents may not really have a choice in being able to become parents,” said Dr. Wendy Schor-Haim, of Barnard College.

Schor-Haim and Dr. Cecelia Lie-Spahn, also with Barnard, are experts on the history of reproductive rights in the United States and say this country has a long history of controlling women by controlling their bodies.

“One of the most important acts of resistance by enslaved women was being able to keep the children they had because they were so often sold to other slave owners. So I think of that kind of historical context broader in Alabama and how once again we’re faced with this situation where people are being told who can start a family and who can’t,” Lie-Spahn said.

Schor-Haim says the turning point in how abortion was viewed came with the creation of the American Medical Association, initially run only by men.

“What’s interesting is that first there was male control, then there was abortion stigma. So it’s not like there was a national American grassroots wave, you know , which turned against abortion the moment abortion started to be really restricted. The restrictions caused the stigma,” she said.

After years of tireless protest and lobbying, in 1973 the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, protecting a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1970 the workforce was 43 percent female. By 2019, this figure had increased to 57.4%. Researchers say one of the main factors attributed to this rise in female employment was women’s right to control their fertility.

In 2022, court overturned Roe, giving states the right to choose. Since then, 21 states have banned or restricted abortions.

“It’s like a runaway train, and people think they’re in control… Women are going to pay the price. Women are like football in a football game, and it’s really scary to think about it,” Schor-Haim said. .

“I think we want this world where people can thrive, and if you don’t have the ability to make choices, can you really (thrive)? Not at all. I think beyond “Out of that, there’s like the real visceral horror of people who, this is their only way to get pregnant and to have that dream taken away from them. It’s a really scary feeling,” Peltzer said.

Alabama providers resumed some IVF services after the state’s Republican governor signed a bill earlier this month protecting patients and providers from legal liability.

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