10 Things I'd Say to the Anti-Choice Fanatics Trying to End Access to Abortion
The anti-choice movement would be nowhere without a heavy denial of reality based on the promotion of myths about sex, about birth control, about women’s bodies, but especially about abortion. While the majority of Americans are pro-choice, the constant drumbeat of stories makes the public wonder if there isn’t some truth to the stereotypes, causing even pro-choice people to support regulations such as waiting periods, parental notification laws, and ultrasound laws that only serve to make it harder for women in need to get abortions.
With that in mind, here’s ten realities pro-choicers should throw in the face of anti-abortion fanatics they have the misfortune to get into arguments with:
1) Most abortions take place early in pregnancy. Anti-abortion propaganda tends to focus on late term fetuses and even pictures of babies and small children, falsely implying that what’s evacuated during your typical abortion is basically the same as a baby. They shouldn’t be able to get away with this, but instead should acknowledge that nine out of ten abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Additionally, the growth of medical abortion means a much larger percentage of abortions---62% overall---take place before the 9th week of pregnancy. In fact, in most abortions, the term “fetus” is incorrect, as doctors classify it as an embryo until the 11th week of pregnancy. At 8 weeks, and embryo is about ½ an inch long, and at 12 weeks, the fetus is a little over 2 inches long. In contrast, a full-term baby is an average 20 inches long, a full 40 times larger than the size of the average embryo during an abortion. The response to the bloody fetus pictures anti-choicers love should be pictures showing how small ½ an inch really is.
2) If not for anti-choicers, even more women would get abortions much earlier in their pregnancies. Most women want to terminate unwanted pregnancies as soon as possible, but there are some women who wait until 12 or 16 or even 20 weeks to terminate a pregnancy for elective reasons. Why do about 10% of women having abortions wait until early in their second trimester? It’s not because they’re stupid or indifferent to the growing fetus inside them. Research indicates that women delay having abortions because they have trouble deciding, they struggle to come up with the funds, and because they may have to travel and overcome legal obstacles to get an abortion. When anti-choicers focus on abortions that happen at 14 or 16 weeks, they should be asked what they’re doing to make sure women are getting abortions earlier: Do they support Medicaid funding? Do they want to help make sure there’s an easy to access provider in every county? If abortions after an embryo turns to a fetus bother you so much, you should be making sure women who want abortions can get them earlier in their pregnancies.
3) Doctors perform late term abortions because of medical indications, often on women who desperately wanted the baby. Anti-choicers like to lump all abortions together, implying that women wait until they’re 20 weeks pregnant or more to terminate a pregnancy because it somehow just occurred to them that they didn’t want to have a baby. But the rule of thumb with abortion is, “The later the termination, the higher the odds that the woman needed it for medical reasons.” Indeed, doctors who perform abortions after 24 usually require, as a matter of practice and of law, that the women have medical necessity reasons for abortion. Before he died, Dr. George Tiller had to have a second doctor confirm every diagnosis of a medical condition allowing post-24 week abortions. When he was accused of fudging these records to allow for elective abortions, the court found that Dr. Tiller innocent of all the charges.