Abortion debate ignites as officials tinker with policies

The goal should be to reduce abortions with education, support and birth control or family planning.

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Abortion politics has heated up in recent months as state legislatures around the nation seek to create barriers to make it more difficult and humiliating for women to get a legal abortion.

Meanwhile, the federal government is making changes to insurance laws mandating that birth-control coverage — including drugs that induce abortions — must be covered or provided at no cost.

The political left and the right are clashing and reason seems to be lost in their rhetoric.

Abortion is legal in this country with some exceptions and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion has been upheld as constitutional.

Given that, it seems laws governing the circumstances of abortion should reflect the reality of this difficult situation. When a woman makes the decision to abort a fetus it’s not an easy one. It has deep emotional consequences. Women considering abortion need support, particularly from family and close friends.

We would hope that abortions are rarely done and ideally only under dire circumstances such as when the mother’s health is in jeopardy. Yet, we understand abortion occurs more frequently for a variety of mostly personal reasons. The goal should be to reduce abortions with education, support and birth control or family planning.

Ultimately, however, it is a decision that should be made by the woman with advice from her doctor and her support network.

The current efforts by elected officials to change abortion policy by using laws to circumvent access to legal abortions is troubling.

In particular, the effort in Texas to mandate women have an invasive ultrasound, view images of the fetus before having an abortion and then pay for the procedure is wrong.

Other states have laws requiring counseling, but none go as far as Texas. While having an ultrasound is not necessarily uncommon, the Texas law’s intent is not so much to provide information than to make the experience embarrassing and difficult for a women planning to abort. It is not medically necessary.

In addition, we have concerns about the federal effort to mandate that birth control be provided by every employer that offers health insurance, even those with moral or religious objections to birth control and abortion. The compromise — insurance companies agreed to pick up the cost if employers object on moral grounds — has not ended the debate, but it seems more reasonable.

Policies should be established that serve the best interests of women faced with making a difficult decision about whether to have an abortion.

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