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Anti-Choicers Shamelessly Abuse Dead Woman Because She Chose Medically-Indicated Surgery

Written by Amanda Marcotte forRH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at theoriginal post.

Just in case you didn't think anti-choice activists could get any lower -- a fair supposition, considering the murders of abortion providers and "activism" mostly aimed at trying to shame women for abortion -- welcome to the next phase, which involves attempts to humiliate a dead woman for getting a medically indicated abortion. Obviously, anti-choicers are sensitive to P.R. and so know better than to admit openly they're trying to shame a dead woman and harass her family, so they pretend that they're sharing her private information and putting her face and name on placards out of "concern." But like any concern trolls, the actual concern is a put-on, meant to make the hateful sentiments behind it harder to call out.

The story is simple: A patient at Dr. Carhart's office in Germantown, MD passed away recently while undergoing a very late term (reported at 33 weeks) abortion. Her loss is devastating no doubt for her doctors as well as her family, but sadly, surgery is a risky undertaking. People die from all sorts of surgery, including minor surgeries like knee surgery. When it comes to pregnancy, death is rare, but not unheard of -- indeed, giving birth is 14 times more dangerous than abortion. Despite the higher risks of childbirth, however, no one would ever insist on not allowing women to choose childbirth, because we understand that few things in life are risk-free.  Indeed, the standard with surgery -- including later abortions -- is to weigh the risks of surgery against the risks of continuing the pregnancy, and, having discovered the latter are higher, choosing the surgery instead. Is that an absolute guarantee that surgery will never be risky? No, but it's also not an absolute guarantee that you won't die in a car wreck on the way to your surgery, either.

Two major things make the anti-choice explanation of this woman's death (and no, I won't name her, because I respect her family's right to privacy, unlike the anti-choicers who have forced this issue by not respecting her privacy) so upsetting. First is the utter inability of anti-choicers to understand concepts like "informed consent," especially when it comes to women. Second is the utter lack of logic of their position, which only makes sense if you believe that there should be no medical interventions to help a woman.

Taking these one at a time, let's tackle the first. As noted, childbirth is 14 times more dangerous than abortion. It's true that later abortions are more dangerous than the vast majority of abortions, shrinking these numbers, but nonetheless, we know this: The patient was having a medically indicated abortion. Anti-choicers would have you believe that women abort at 33 weeks because they're bopping along, being too dumb for basic rational thought -- this is assumed to be a standard trait in women -- when an evil abortion provider lures them through tightly-honed seduction techniques into getting an abortion. Anti-choicers claim the motive for this supposed scheme is profit, though it's well-established that a profit-motivated obstetrician would make way more money delivering babies than aborting pregnancies. 

Here's the reality: Maryland prohibits post-viability abortions unless the mother's health is in danger or the fetus has a serious defect. 


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