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People In State College Share Thoughts On Restrictive Abortion Laws

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills, banning the procedure on or beyond eight weeks of pregnancy, Friday, May 24, 2019 in Jefferson City, Mo.
Summer Balentine
AP Photo

There aren’t many students in Penn State’s HUB-Robeson Student Union this time of year, but the community members and students who are there have mixed thoughts about the abortion laws passed by almost a dozen states in recent months.

Aman Kaur from State College said women should be able to make their own decisions when it comes to ending a pregnancy.

“It should totally be the decision of the woman who is going through it," Kaur said. "It’s about her body and her emotion and everything, so first of all I think that there should be no laws about it, and why we need to talk about it being legal versus illegal, should not be a question. It has to be the woman’s right.”

A July 2018 Gallup poll showed that 21% of Americans prefer stricter abortion laws.

The most restrictive abortion law in the nation was signed by Alabama governor Kay Ivey in May and makes abortions illegal at any stage with no exceptions for rape and incest.

Alex Maule is from State College and works at a local church. He’s meeting with a few friends from his church to play card games. He said that laws don’t stop people from trying to get an abortion.

“Sometimes people are going to resort to alternate measures when they have laws like that," Maule said. "It kind of messes up people if they’re not the wisest people. They might do something kinda silly, or stupid, really.”

Alexander Metz is a rising senior at Penn State. He’s doing homework at a table in the HUB. He agreed with Maule and compared laws limiting abortion to laws surrounding another hotly debated topic.

“People having unsafe abortions and just doing things to get around it are going to increase," Metz said. "And it’s like gun laws, you can put a ban on guns but people are still going to get guns.”

Almost 30 years ago, Pennsylvania found itself at the center of the biggest legal challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. The 1992 case against Governor Bob Casey was brought to the Court after Casey signed a law limiting abortion. The Supreme Court ultimately ruled to uphold Roe v. Wade.

Jessica Cain is a student at Lock Haven University. She’s rearranging furniture to set up a meeting with a different church group. She said that she supports the laws that other states have passed and would like to see a similar law in Pennsylvania.

“We should be protecting unborn children. And it’s a touchy subject, so I understand that it’s very hard to pass and everybody has opinions and feelings about it, but I think restrictions would be great for Pennsylvania,” Cain said.

In May, the Pennsylvania House passed a law that would prohibit abortions if the procedure was being sought because the fetus had Down Syndrome. Governor Tom Wolf said he would veto this bill and any other bill limiting abortion that came to his desk.

Tanmoy Chattopadhyay is a postdoc at Penn State. He said he doesn’t understand what prompted so many states to pass abortion laws within the past few months.

“Why this law came in the first place, that I don’t know," Chattopadhyay said.

Some people who support these laws are hoping these legal fights pave the way for Roe v. Wade to be overturned.

Louisiana recently became the latest state to pass what’s known as a “heartbeat” law, banning abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. That’s usually around six weeks and sometimes before a woman knows she is pregnant.

State and federal courts have blocked such laws from taking effect in many states.

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