This has turned into a bizarre conversation, and swore I would not jump in again until another woman joined the discussion. It is also really odd to be one of the few minority voices arguing against third trimester abortions, while listening to men proclaim that denying late term abortions would be a violation of my human rights.
I’ve been a human rights activist all of my life. That is probably literally true, because my parents dragged me to civil rights protests long before I was old enough to even have my own opinions. I adopted the values that I was raised with, and I am old enough to have seen women’s position in society improve exponentially. I really cannot even remember arguing with anyone about third trimester on-demand abortions.
Roe vs Wade provides that states cannot restrict access to on-demand abortions during the first two trimesters, and that states cannot restrict access to third trimester abortions when a woman’s life is in danger.
Are there people here who are really arguing that Roe vs Wade is too restrictive? Does anyone know of any country in the world that does not have restrictions on third term abortions? Not Sweden or Holland or any of the countries that I can think of that have strong social support systems and respect for individual freedom.
So that is the law. Then there is the reality.
There are very few doctors who have the skills to perform a late term abortion. .Anyone choosing the specialty is condemning himself/herself to a life full of death threats from dangerous crazy fundamentalists, and public disdain. And please note, a late term abortion is generally defined as taking place either after the 21st week of pregnancy, or the 24th week. Fewer than 1% of abortions performed in the US are “late term.” The third trimester starts at least a full month later, at week 28.
I have no problem with saying that an abortion performed after week 28 should be subject to restrictions. I really believe that by that late in the pregnancy, that fetus is a baby. If labor were induced, the kid would survive. There may in fact be rare circumstances in which an abortion is necessary that late in a pregnancy, and I would certainly support a woman’s decision to save her own life, or abort a fetus destined to a short life of debilitating agony. But I have never heard a feminist friend or colleague or even acquaintance call for on-demand third trimester abortions. An abortion that late needs to be a medical decision, not a financial decision or a lifestyle decision.
Now in terms of unwanted pregnancies… let me see. I’m a little out of practice here, so maybe some of you can remind me of how it works. I’m pretty sure that heterosexual activities that have the potential of resulting in pregnancy generally have at least two participants who have practiced unprotected sex. And yet it is the woman who bears the responsibility and suffers the consequences.
Diaphragms get left in drawers and women change birth control pills because they start having a bad reaction to one prescription, and accidently get pregnant while the new formula is settling into their systems. Condoms break, or are put on wrong. My own mom was quite surprised to find herself pregnant in her 40’s, while using a doctor-inserted IUD. She subsequently miscarried. And anyone who has spent any significant amount of time around 15 year olds knows that they often show extraordinarily poor judgment, act impulsively, and frequently do not consider the consequences of their actions. Unwanted pregnancies happen. That is why we need abortions. Safe, legal abortions.
Of course, the best way to prevent abortions is to promote safe affordable birth control. And to provide education about birth control. And to stop pretending that teenagers who make a chastity pledge at 13 don’t need to know about anything other than abstinence, because there’s a really good chance they are going to have changed their minds on that chastity thing by the time they hit their late teens or twenties.