Public Policy Meeting Assignment: Abortion Access
The purpose of the meeting was to review abortion access. The participants at the meeting included Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y, Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas, Dr. Yashica Robinson, a board-certified OBGYN and board member with physicians for reproductive health, Catherine Glenn Foster, the president and CEO of anti-abortion law firm Americans United for Life, Michele Bratcher Goodwin, a chancellor’s law professor at the University of California, Irvine, Aimee Arrambide, the executive director of the abortion-rights nonprofit Avow Texas, and executive members of the committee.
The House Judiciary Committee held the meeting to reflect on the abortion access as the country awaits the Supreme Court decision on the case that resulted in the overturning of Roe v. Wade. Also, in the meeting, the chairman gave a clear warning that there could be a devastating impact if it were true that the landmark 1973 decision on legalizing abortion was overturned, as was highlighted in the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion (Jaffe, 2022). The meeting also reflected on the responsibility of women on when and how to start a family and how the decision-making impacts the general wellbeing of a woman.
The meeting room was well organized, with sufficient spacing between the columns. The room is well fitted with sound systems, and the system is perfectly turned to guarantee that all speakers are audible and can engage effectively. There were designated areas that accommodate persons with disability in the room, and the seats were comfortable.
Members of the Judiciary Committee distributed presentation handouts and materials to all participants to guarantee easy follow-up of the meeting. Regarding the Covid-19 protocols, the room was fitted with zoom gadgets to ensure that participants who were not physically present could contribute and follow the proceeding. On each desk, there were hand sanitizers to ensure that members observed the Covid-19 protocols. Members were also served with water while in the meeting.
However, in the auditorium’s lobby, coffee and breakfast items were served to the members. There is no visible language interpreter in the video, or any other special accommodation noted. Members were served lunch in the lobby after the hearing was adjourned. All the necessary materials were distributed before the hearing commenced to ensure that the meeting ran smoothly with minimal interruptions.
The main topic discussed in the meeting was the access to abortion based on the current court case that bans abortion past the 20th week. This discussion was based on the Supreme Court leak draft opinion from two weeks ago that the court was prepared to overwrite the constitutional rights for women to access abortion (Jaffe, 2022).
As per the chairman’s opening statement, the decision to terminate or keep pregnancy was given to the women, and by overturning the previous constitutional directives by the landmark in 1073, the court will be taking away the rights from women who are the primary individuals in decision making and giving that right to the state, which is unconstitutional (Doud, 2022).
The discussion was received with mixed reactions, with the proponents highlighting that women should be allowed to access abortion considering that some pregnancies may come as a result of rape (Smith et al., 2022). However, as per Dr. Robinson’s argument, women of color and those from poor communities are often victims of rape and preventing them from accessing abortion is like empowering those men who take advantage of them.
In her statement, it is inhumane to push the women to keep pregnancies resulting from rape to full term and expect the ladies to dully raise the children without involving the men who subjected them to parenthood (Doud, 2022). Additionally, protecting the abortion rights gives the women the freedom to make decisions about their reproductive health. However, the discussion was not well received by the opponents of the debate as they argued that abortion, especially past the 20th week, should be termed as murder.
The key stakeholders in the meeting had different opinions on the topic, where those who support access to abortion say that it is essential to allow women the freedom to choose when to start their families. There were heated interactions between Rep. Spartz and Goodwin on the separation of power and process.
Ms. Spartz states that citizens must follow the constitution and allow specific institutions that are tasked with the responsibility of giving guidance to do their job without political pressure, while Ms. Goodwin, in her statement, believes that some decisions should be given to the citizens to make consider that those who make the decisions may not be well versed with the real issue those on the ground are facing. She believes abortion should be classified as a healthcare process (Jaffe, 2022).
The outcome of the committee made it clear that the ruling is not in any way target the people of color but rather a way of protecting the rights of everyone, including the unborn child (Doud, 2022). The doctors that offer abortion services were also directed to work closely with advocates to evaluate instances where choosing abortion is necessary to avoid engaging in unconstitutional acts (Smith et al., 2022).
It was also agreed that access to abortion should be perceived as a health care rather than a criminal act to ensure that women are provided with essential information before going through the process.
Doud, D. (2022). Reconceptualizing the Lattice Work of Women’s Rights: United States Domestic and Foreign Policy. Accessed 27th May 2022 from, https://www.forbes.com/sites/alisondurkee/2021/05/17/supreme-court-to-considermississippis-abortion-ban-in-move-that-could-challenge-roe-v-wade/?sh=47c9ab264e40
Jaffe, S. (2022). Health organizations fear effects of US abortion ruling. The Lancet, 399(10338), 1854.DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736 (22)00871-6
Smith, M. H., Muzyczka, Z., Chakraborty, P., Johns-Wolfe, E., Higgins, J., Bessett, D., & Norris, A. H. (2022). Abortion travel within the United States: an observational study of cross-state movement to obtain abortion care in 2017. The Lancet Regional Health-Americas, 10, 100214.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.lana.2022.100214