On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s right to privacy covered her right to decide whether to terminate her own pregnancy. Despite this ruling, states all vary in the ways the law is interpreted. Some states make it so difficult that patients can find it close to impossible to obtain an abortion. For many an abortion is considered both a safe and legal way to end an unwanted pregnancy. There is more than one type of procedure to consider when speaking on the topic of abortion. The first procedure is a medication abortion or an abortion pill as it is more commonly known. This pill, which is given to a pregnant female by a doctor, is taken to end an early pregnancy. The second procedure is an in-clinic abortion and is performed inside a medical office by a trained medical staff. I currently reside in the Commonwealth of Virginia which has its own regulations with regards to abortion. In the following paragraphs, I will discuss United States laws concerning abortion, abortion restrictions and laws in Virginia, my personal view on abortion and how my personal view will affect my work with clients.
Since the passing of Roe VS Wade in 1973, the Supreme court has stated that no state can ban an abortion to a woman whose pregnancy is not considered viable. To be considered viable, a fetus must be able to survive outside of its mother. A few of the restrictions found at the state level are parental consent for those underage, limited funding, counseling for women in hopes they will change decision on abortion, and a waiting period before an abortion can be performed. During the last decade, states have become much more restrictive with regards to women seeking abortions.
In 2014, the Commonweath of Virgina performed just over 21,000 abortions. State statistics show that this number was a mixture of state residents along with visitors from other states. The past few years in Virginia have shown a 23% decline in the number of abortions performed. The number of legal abortions in Virginia make up only 2.3% of all the abortions in the United States. Virginia offers 34 facilities for those individuals seeking a legal abortion. Virginia currently has the following restrictions on abortion. Virginia Law states (§18.2-76 of the Code of Virginia) requires an ultrasound (pictures) of the pregnancy be performed prior to abortion. You must have an ultrasound to determine the gestational age of the pregnancy (Vdh.virginia.gov, 2018). In addition, Virginia requires a female to receive counseling by the state prior to the abortion to discourage her decision. Virginia also requires all minor females to have parental consent before the procedure can be performed. The state health care plan will cover abortion only when a rape or incest has occurred. Like the health care plan, public funding is made available only when a female has experienced rape, incest, or the fetus is in danger. Virginia law states that females in their second trimester must have abortions performed in licensed hospitals while third trimester abortions can only be performed to save the life of the mother. Abortion clinics in the city of Norfolk, where I currently reside, offer the abortion pill, in-clinic abortion, post-abortion follow up exams, patient education or pre and post abortion, sedation medications and referrals, as well as other abortion related services (“Abortion Clinics – Norfolk, VA – A Tidewater Women’s Health Clinic,” n.d). Norfolk and the surrounding cities all offer many facilities for those seeking an abortion.
Social work can be challenging due to the personal beliefs and ideals brought into the work place by the social worker. As human beings, we have differing ideas about the world and how we live within it. We also have differing opinions on what is right and wrong within our own moral compasses. I do not agree with the legality of abortion rights. I was raised in a Christian home, by my father, a Southern Baptist Pastor, and my mother. My faith states that murder is wrong, and I believe abortion is murder. I am a mother of 3 and believe without a doubt that my children were living the moment they were conceived. I know there is a multitude of people, including family and friends who do not agree with my view. I respect their choice to live their lives in the way they choose. I cannot make decisions for them and they cannot make my decisions for me. I believe my God gave us all free will to make our own choices, whether they seem moral or immoral. As a future social worker, I will be in practice with both fellow social workers and clients who do not share many of my views. But isn’t this the case with life in general? I will never find an individual who will see things in the exact way that I do. We can respect and care for one another no matter our beliefs. My desired area of concentration is Children and Families and I know I may work with a client or family in the future that have circumstances involving pregnancy and abortion. I will treat all individuals and families with equal respect regarding their beliefs and opinions. The NASW Code of Ethics requires the social worker to recognize and respect the dignity and worth of those he or she works with. The Code of Ethics further states, “Social workers treat each person in a caring and respectful fashion, mindful of individual differences and cultural and ethnic diversity” (“Code of Ethics: English,” n.d.). I understand that working within conditions that completely disagree with my own moral belief system will be difficult at times. But I will remain professional and uphold the oath that I will take as a licensed social worker. If I find myself in a future situation that makes it impossible to help my client, I will refer him or her to someone that can meet their needs and get them the help they require.
Abortion was deemed legal by the Supreme Court in 1973. But over the past decade, states have placed numerous restrictions on those seeking an abortion thus making it a more difficult option. Abortion is a hot topic no matter the state or community that you reside in. We as social workers have our opinions and beliefs on the issue, but this should not hinder our ability to help those I need. As professionals, we must set aside our personal ideas and beliefs for the sake of the client. A social worker should take on a client only if he or she is willing to show that client absolute respect.
Abortion Clinics – Norfolk, VA – A Tidewater Women’s Health Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://yourchoice-va.com/. Accessed 8 Sept. 2018
“Read the Code of Ethics.” Www.socialworkers.org, National Association of Social Workers, www.socialworkers.org/About/Ethics/Code-of-Ethics/Code-of-Ethics-English. Accessed 8 Sept. 2018
Vdh.virginia.gov. (2018). Abortion – Making an Informed Decision – Pregnancy. online Available at: http://www.vdh.virginia.gov/pregnancy/abortion-making-an-informed-decision/ Accessed 8 Sep. 2018.