Tag Archives: laws

How Gun Reform Will Help Women

By Kelsie Merrick

After every mass shooting, there is a heightened concern over gun laws and an increasing push for gun reform. But why does this conversation need to happen after a mass shooting? Yes, mass shootings are horrific; however, mass shootings do not even makeup half of the deaths by guns per year in the United States. One of our major issues in the gun industry is our lack of ability to guarantee background checks at every possible gun dealership, which creates a major risk for women against domestic violent threats. Compared to women in other high-income countries, women in the United States are eleven times more likely to be murdered with guns. What makes it worse is in 2011 an alarming 53 percent of women were killed by an intimate partner or family member.

A survey was conducted on women living in California’s domestic violence shelters. The results found that almost “two-thirds of the women who lived in households with guns reported that their partner had used the gun against them.” The most common ways were threatening to shoot or kill the woman. This study found that the addition of a gun in a domestic violence situation “increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.”

If a domestic abuser has been convicted of a felony, federal law prohibits them from buying or possessing guns. However, if a state does not include a similar ban, “state or local prosecutors cannot bring state gun charges against the abuser.” Federal law also prohibits domestic abusers from buying or possessing firearms if they have been convicted of a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence” or if they are “subject to certain domestic violence restraining orders.” In accordance with federal law, nineteen states and the District of Columbia have state laws in place preventing non-felony domestic violence offenders from having guns.

These laws may seem ridiculous to those who have never been affected by domestic violence, but, in my opinion, they are necessary. The FBI must agree since almost 16 percent of the total firearm transfer denials are based on domestic violence. On top of that, “convictions for domestic violence misdemeanors are the third leading basis for dealers to deny gun sales after running a NICS check.” I’m not saying that women should be the sole reason for ensuring better gun control, but when women alone make up “13 percent of victims of gun homicide nationwide” and between 2009 and 2014 they were “51 percent of victims of mass shootings” I think their safety should be a major concern to our government.

The Importance of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt

By Kelsie Merrick

In 1973, Roe v. Wade was, and still is, a controversial case that passed through the Supreme Court. The ruling in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion nationally unless a woman was in the third trimester then the state had a right to enact abortion regulations to protect the fetus. The only exception to this rule was if the pregnancy was a threat to the mother’s life. Then in 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey reintroduced the controversy around abortion this time about whether consent from a spouse or parent and a 24 hour waiting period is necessary before an abortion. In this case, the court ruled that “states may not impose an ‘undue burden’ on access to abortion: a law is invalid ‘if its purpose or effect is to place substantial obstacles in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability.'” Now, abortion has reentered our court system with the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case.

In previous abortion cases, there has been a clear argument with two clear sides: pro-life and pro-choice. That is, the concern has generally been about the baby not about the mother, but with the introduction of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt the conversation is shifting from the baby to the safety of the mother. This case began in 2013 when Texas created a law requiring “doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital no more than 30 miles away, and set clinic standards that are similar to those of surgical centers.” Whole Woman’s Health, an abortion provider, argues, “the law isn’t medically necessary, is demanding and expensive, and interferes with women’s health care.”

Since 2011, “at least 162 abortion providers have shut or stopped offering the procedure” with at least 30 of those closures coming from Texas alone. One of the main reasons behind the closures was the new state regulations that have made these facilities too expensive to remain in operation. Texas is the primary case study of these new regulations and the repercussions of stricter regulations are already noticeable. According to certain providers, “full implementation of the law would leave almost a fifth of Texas women 150 miles or more from a facility.” Texas has already dropped from 42 to 19 clinics since 2013 and if the Supreme Court rules in favor of the new law, Texas would be left with nine abortion clinics. This is a problem for women who need an abortion, whether it is for personal or health reason, and are incapable of traveling that far. A more serious problem caused by the extreme distances of abortion clinics is that “more women would now die of complications from self-induced abortions.”

Another issue facing the abortion world is the discriminating views that then lead to the vandalism of buildings and clinics. Susan Cahill from Kalispell, Montana was unable to rebuild her practice after it was vandalized due to the cost of repairs. Planned Parenthood, one of the leading abortion clinics, has had their fair share of tormenting and vandalism from people protesting outside to fires being started at their facilities. About a third of the facilities that closed or stopped performing terminations were operated by Planned Parenthood. This is detrimental to Planned Parenthood’s operation as a whole since their main goal is not to give abortions but to education society, mainly young adults, about safe sex and contraceptives available to the public.

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were “210 abortions for every 1,000 births in the United States.” Even with abortions being almost one-fifth of the births that year, abortions are decreasing without implemented regulations. Since 2010, the Associated Press estimates abortions have decreased 12 percent. Possible explanations for this could be that teen pregnancy rates are decreasing which leads to the reason for more access to birth control. If abortion rates are already decreasing, is it necessary to regulate the clinics? On the other hand, verifying that clinics are safe and healthy and that properly trained doctors are performing the surgeries is also highly beneficial to women that need and want an abortion. Hopefully, the Supreme Court can figure out how to ensure women’s safety without the closure of abortion clinics.