By Jayme Lozano
Donald Trump is no stranger to controversy, but his recent comments on abortion have caught the attention of women’s rights advocates.
During a recent campaign event, Trump said women who seek abortions should be punished if the procedure is banned. He later changed his stance to suggest punishing only the doctors who perform the procedure.
Miriam Mulsow, an associate professor of human development and family studies at Texas Tech University, said the possibility of abortion becoming illegal reminds her of how harmful the procedure can be when done unsafely and illegally.
“When I was a teenager, I knew people who got pregnant and weren’t going to get married,” Mulsow said. “So they went and had backroom abortions, or you heard about people who used coat hangers, and people would die.”
Mulsow said that although she is not in favor of abortion, she does not think it should be anyone’s choice but the woman who is pregnant.
“What right do politicians, who would probably force their mistresses to have abortions if they got pregnant, have to tell young women what decisions they can make with their own bodies?” Mulsow said. “It’s not my place, or anyone else’s place, to make that decision for somebody else.”
Mulsow, who is also part of the Women’s Studies program at Texas Tech, thinks younger women need to understand what could happen if abortion became illegal.
“I don’t think they realize how bad it can be if it goes back to the way it was,” Mulsow said. “If these people do get elected because young people don’t realize how bad it can be, they’re going to learn the hard way, and I’m hoping it doesn’t take that. If they understood women’s history, then I think they would understand what they were up against.”
Caylee Rogers, a student at South Plains College who is also a mother, does not agree with Trump’s statements but does not agree with abortion either.
“I don’t support abortion because I believe it’s clearly a human being,” Rogers said. “I understand why a woman would have an abortion, especially in the event of rape, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a human.”
Rogers said her stance on abortion comes from being a mother and for personal reasons, but also because she does not understand how people can choose to have one.
“I have a hard time understanding why people choose to think that, just because it’s in the body and not fully developed, it’s not human,” Rogers said. “We’re constantly growing and aging. It’s no different from conception.”
Sarah-Grace Crocco, a student at Texas Tech, said she sees abortions as a healthcare need and finds Trump’s comments concerning.
“They seek to endanger and demonize women who want access to this healthcare necessity,” Crocco said. “This is the first time in a while that Republican front runners discussed abortion not in regards to the women’s health or safety but instead as an honest mechanism of control and possession.”
Crocco said Trump’s comments can erode women’s rights, something she has seen in Texas before.
“It was this same rhetoric deployed by Governor Rick Perry that made it possible for nearly all abortion clinics to be closed in this state,” Crocco said. “It’s become near impossible to have a safe abortion in Texas. It’s anti-progress, which is always anti-women.”
Crocco thinks the national spotlight on abortion shows how far women have come and what could be lost if abortions become illegal.
“It’s one of the only medical procedures that serves to advance the autonomy and productivity of women,” Crocco said. “Forcing motherhood can compromise their ability to work, get an education or run for office.”
The procedure should always be done in a safe facility, she said, because there is real danger otherwise.
“The body count potentially doubles in a world where both fetus and mom are at risk from back-alley and basement abortions,” Crocco said. “This abortion debate is not about life and choice, or even about fetuses. It’s about control.”