How Abortion Rights Affect Sex

Abortion funding is a big issue both for women and their communities — even for those who have health insurance. According to a 2011 study by the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund (EMA Fund), which gives financial aid to those who can’t afford an abortion, “Only one-third of the 32 [women] who applied for subsidized insurance secured coverage of their abortion.” Furthermore, processing delays mean that women who might have had medication abortions were unable to do so in time, and fee increases for abortions this year pushed some women to pay entirely out-of-pocket or with partial grant funding. The EMA Fund study speaks of “another woman who ‘timed out’ of an in-state surgical abortion when she was unable to obtain insurance quickly.” She continued with the pregnancy.

This issue affects other states, too. Last week, key provisions of the Texas Sonogram Law were rejected by federal judge Sam Sparks. Sparks stated that forcing doctors to describe the content of a sonogram to their patients would violate the woman’s autonomy and push the doctor to “advance an ideological agenda with which they might not agree.” In response, Gov. Rick Perry claims “every life lost to abortion is a tragedy, and [the] ruling is a great disappointment to all Texans who stand in defense of life.” Whether or not we agree or disagree with the ideological stance, the freedom to choose the costly route of abortion remains so restricted that the autonomy Sparks seeks to defend is often a moot point.

Though the prospect of an abortion is already frightening in itself, the fear that the procedure is an unaffordable fallback heightens the risks of intimacy so that sex itself can be forfeit, too. But why even worry about people becoming afraid of sex? Boston can’t claim to foster equal rights in the realm of sexuality when having sex can be a risk for women who don’t want to bring unwanted children into families for any number of reasons, poverty included. And encouraging abstinence-only as the answer can be socially destructive in its own ways, too. There are many societal benefits of fear-free sex, and we need only consider the peace-making benefits of the sex hormone oxytocin, which is released just after orgasm, to see how sex can potentially work to enhance our lives. Oxytocin bonds us to our partners, promotes peace, raises self-esteem, and helps us nurture others. Being close with and trusting another human being is one great way to fight loneliness and depression.

And during a time when suicide, violence, and poverty are rife, the politicians would do well to remember that.