The news of the United States Senate discussing a limit on abortion is going to stir up conversation. By now we’re all pretty clear that some people do not approve of abortion. Those people should either never have one or never impregnate someone. Many other people consider it a choice with restrictions. Then there are others who don’t consider other people’s choices any of their business. In recent years any political discussion of abortion seems geared to appeasing a specific populace and there is usually a religious subtext.
However when discussing a term limit (in this case of 20 weeks gestation) it is a conversation about science and economics not about religion. Science is a wonderful thing and many of us owe a great deal to advances in medical research. Never before has the natal experience been so orchestrated and monitored. We now can manufacture zygotes that grow into fetuses that become babies. We can monitor and test for far more diseases and defects than we really care to consider. Many of these screenings occur at different stages in a pregnancy. Some maternal or fetal crises develop at any time (including into delivery.) It can be rather late in a pregnancy that an extreme fetal anomaly is detected. It is devastating news to receive and simply unthinkable that a woman would have no choice but to soldier on for perhaps five more months. With much of the fertility interventions we have now, multiples are not an unusual occurrence. Multiples always carry a higher risk both to the woman and the other fetuses. What happens when one fetus is threatening the life of the others in utero? How is the decision made to “protect the unborn” then made? It is also essential to keep in mind that a woman’s health can be jeopardized at any stage of a pregnancy.
If the health of the fetus or mother is not in jeopardy there are limited reasons a woman would seek an abortion after 20 weeks. Many of those reasons would cease to exist if we had safe, affordable, accessible abortions any and everywhere in this country. There will always be women who come to the decision later in the pregnancy (for varying reasons.) But for the most part, if abortion were as available as sonograms in this country, later abortions would be less of an issue. By making abortion accessible we’d also help to lower any stigma a woman might feel.
Having a later term abortion is never desirable for anyone involved. It involves a pregnancy that is visible, presumably a difficult decision process, and a more complicated procedure. You’d be hard pressed to find a woman making a casual decision about such a thing. That alone is reason enough for politicians to get over regulating women’s bodies and step up to improving women’s healthcare. It is outrageous that in the 21st century, people with resources can make (and shelve) all the zygotes they wish while people with limited resources must rely on the whims of their elected officials to control their procreation.