Issue Position: Reproductive Rights
Among the cherished individual liberties granted by the Constitution is a woman's fundamental right to make her own decisions regarding a pregnancy. As the Supreme Court has recognized, reproductive choices are personal and private. The decision to have an abortion belongs exclusively to the woman - not to public officials in Congress and the White House.
While reproductive decisions are private and supported by the Constitution, efforts should be made to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and diminish the incidence of abortion. However, outlawing the procedure entirely is not the solution. The most effective way to reduce the number of abortions in the United States is to provide women and parents with the education and economic opportunity necessary to make informed choices in all aspects of their lives.
Another way to reduce the number of abortions in the country is to approve over-the-counter use of the emergency contraceptive Plan B. Despite overwhelming support for approval from an independent panel of experts and the Food and Drug Administration's own reviewers, the FDA has indefinitely postponed a decision on the use of Plan B without a prescription. By delaying approval of Plan B, the Bush Administration is clearly rejecting science and the needs of women to satisfy right-wing special interests.
According to USA Today, "More than 70 leading medical and public health groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, say it's safe and should be available without a prescription or any age restriction."
Medical experts estimate that 1.3 million abortions and 3 million unwanted pregnancies could be cut in half every year if emergency contraception were available without a doctor's prescription.
Over one-half of worldwide abortions are performed in countries where the procedure is illegal.