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Editorial: Apathy on abortion

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | OCTOBER 14, 2014 5:00 AM

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As November’s election draws near, candidates are taking strong stances on issues that have previously been in everyone’s interest to avoid. Rep. Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, did just this with a political ad titled “Look” against opponent GOP state Sen. Joni Ernst. The ad highlights Ernst’s anti-abortion position, stating that she sponsored a bill to outlaw abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. It also points out that Ernst even supports criminal punishment for medical practitioners who perform abortions. This ad puts a tragic spotlight on the status of United States politics in 2014: We are still dealing with archaic beliefs that hinder social progress.

Despite abortion being such a heated topic, 28 percent of respondents to a May Gallup Poll said a candidate’s views on abortion are not a major issue when choosing whom to elect. Twenty-eight percent don’t think a matter of human rights is a crucial political viewpoint to take into account.

This level of apathy is astonishing, considering how pivotal our generation’s treatment of this topic could be in the grand scheme of improving women’s rights.

Even telemedicine abortion was in a state of uncertainty until the Iowa Supreme Court ruled for its continuation in September. Telemedicine abortion is the cost-effective method of safe and supervised administration of pregnancy-ending pills over a video conference. This method has proven to be just as effective as its in-person counterpart, yet just over six months ago, 66 percent of Iowans were against it. Planned Parenthood stated that the legislative hiccups that left telemed-abortion in a questionable legal status prior to the court’s ruling were simply attempts to limit the accessibility to the procedure.

While abortion rates are actually decreasing, it is important to ensure the legality of the procedure based on both practicality and principle. Even if fewer women need the procedure (whether this is because of increased birth control and sexual education or societal trends), its accessibility should not decline. Also, keeping abortion procedures legal and accessible will set a standard for women’s rights in the future. The importance of giving women a political voice even with their blatant misrepresentation in the U.S. government (fewer than 20 percent of the members of Congress are women) can’t be understated.

The upcoming election must act as a sobering reminder for Iowans to consider all important issues that we will entrust with our new policymakers. Iowans, along with the rest of the U.S. electorate, need to vote responsibly. Abortion is a controversial issue that has lasted for generations, but it doesn’t need to remain as such forever. We have the power to set abortion standards, uphold gender equality, and pave the way for newer generations, and we shouldn’t throw this opportunity away in favor of apathy.


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