Last week, a reader named “Elizabeth” posted this comment on my Roe-anniversary-themed blog Answering the abortion rights question:
Hello! Just found your blog. I am curious how you would explain to your son an abortion performed on an embryo or fetus that is not a two-cell or four week old zygote, but perhaps a 20 week or 28 week old who is certainly a baby by that point who can experience pain, and could potentially survive outside the womb. Who’s body is it at that point? What would be a good explanation? Thanks
In my experience, the only folks who ask questions like this are anti-choicers trying to bait Roe fans into admitting that on occasion, reproductive rights activists sneak into nurseries to D & C babies in their cribs.
Elizabeth, I could try to explain an abortion performed on, in your words, “a 20 week or 28 week old who is certainly a baby by that point,” but I think I’ll let Tiffany Campbell do it instead:
Stories like these are why there remains a need for abortion access later in pregnancy. It’s simply a myth that there are 28-weeks-along pregnant ladies who wake up one morning, wish they had their figures back, and drive to Planned Parenthood to get rid of that pesky thing that’s making life so darned difficult.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 88% of abortions occur in the first trimester; additionally, “fifty-eight percent of abortion patients say they would have liked to have had their abortion earlier. Nearly 60% of women who experienced a delay in obtaining an abortion cite the time it took to make arrangements and raise money.” Women who want to terminate their pregnancies do so as swiftly as possible. Ironically, the obstacles anti-choicers have put in place probably increase the likelihood that a later-term abortion will occur. As I noted in another old post, a 2008 Guttmacher study concluded that 87 percent of counties in the United States do not, DO NOT, have an abortion provider. Five years later, that percentage is probably higher.
So whose body is it? I feel it’s still the woman’s. I believe in women–in their common sense, in their intelligence, in their ability to weigh many sides of a very difficult decision.
Tiffany Campbell had no choice when it came to her sons’ devastating medical condition. She could, however, choose what steps to take next, to decide what would be best for her and for the rest of her family. Who are we to tell her otherwise?