Voters in Ireland will head to the polls next week to decide whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment in the Irish constitution, which currently makes abortion a crime.
And the U.S. also finds itself in the middle of the latest iteration of debate on laws limiting abortion access. The Trump administration has moved to cut federal funding for clinics that provide abortion or abortion referrals, and the Iowa legislature has passed the "fetal heartbeat" law, which effectively bans the procedure at about the six-week mark.
Our discussion on the current politics of abortion sparked poignant comments from listeners on both sides.
One of our listeners, Phil from Columbia, Missouri, shared both his and his wife Mary Ellen's personal experience with abortion.
"We needed to terminate a very much wanted pregnancy at 21 weeks to due twin-twin transfusion syndrome," Phil's email started.
I reached out to Phil to see if he would be willing to tell his family's story.
"Sometimes people will tell you things like, 'Well, why would you ever possibly want to wait until the 21st or 22nd week for an abortion? And couldn't you make the decision earlier?' And in our case we didn't know we had problems until the 16th week," he explained. "The information that you get at every stage, on a week-by-week basis, changes. It's a very fluid situation. And you make the best next choice that you can."
The family's choices led them to Wichita, Kansas. Mary Ellen and Phil found a doctor to perform the abortion.
"I wouldn't want to take anyone's choice away," Phil says. "But I do think that families should be able to make the best available decisions they have on the medical advice they have."
William, from Middletown, Connecticut, called in with thoughts from the perspective of a second-generation American whose grandparents were all born in Ireland.
"I came back to the Catholic church about 15 years ago and I had to look at this issue, personally," he said. "Because, before, I was pro-choice. Having studied it, I made a decision, personally, that a fetus is indeed a person, and that I had to — much to the chagrin of my liberal friends, and I'm still liberal in most issues — change my opinion."
In the comments section of our website, listener ensteph pointed out potential financial barriers to abortion.
"Many health care insurance companies won’t cover the procedure," they wrote. "Because of the paucity of clinics in various places, you might be required to pay for travel, to pay to stay overnight, to lose wages or even your job and, since most women seeking abortions are already mothers trying to care for the families they have, to pay for child care."
Another commenter, Josh, reconciled his conflicting thoughts on the ethics and legality of restricting abortion access.
"I disagree with abortion on a moral level, but you can't make it criminal. You can't even limit access to it. We need less government intrusions in our lives, not more."
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