The book Abortion Care was written to educate future abortion workers. It gives training and advice to those who want to work in abortion facilities. One subject it covers is late term abortion. The book mentions several studies on the reasons why women get late abortions, and pulls examples from various studies. The examples are from women’s abortions that took place between 15 and 23 weeks.
Here are some of the reasons, in women’s own words. One woman said she didn’t feel pregnant or miss a period, so she learned of her pregnancy late:
I thought I wouldn’t have my period anymore [and] I didn’t feel anything abnormal. In previous times [pregnancies] I did sometimes feel like eating this or that. This time I was still working very hard in the field, and I was still healthy. So I didn’t have an examination until my pregnancy was big.
This 16 year-old girl wanted her baby at first, but changed her mind:
When I missed the first [period], I was just happy, like “Yes!” Then I missed the second one, then I was just doubting a little bit. Like. Then I missed the third one; then it cut right through my head, like “Oh. My God!” Then I started getting scared and stuff.
Another woman and her partner were indecisive about aborting:
So we decided that it was too soon [to have a child]. It just wasn’t the right time for neither of us… It was like… Sometimes [my partner] would say yes, and I would say no. I would convince him where I would think it’s a bad decision and he’ll say yes or no. Then [he’d] try to convince me… So, it was confusing at first, but we knew that it was going to be a decision that we would have to make.
A 22 year-old woman didn’t realize she was pregnant:
I had no symptoms of pregnancy. I did not gain weight. I did not experience nausea and until two weeks ago I didn’t even notice a bump, considering I’m 20 weeks pregnant.
When asked why she waited, another woman said, “Because I was in denial and scared about it.”
A woman who aborted at 23 weeks said, “The pregnancy was due to a sexual assault so [I] pushed [it] to the back of my mind and didn’t want to tell anyone….”
Studies have shown that a significant percentage of rape survivors who become pregnant carry to term and do not regret their decision to give birth. A number of women have told their stories of having children concieved in rape, and many women who have abortions after rape regret them.
Another woman had an abortion because she ate under-ripe peaches and believed an urban legend that this would cause birth defects:
I didn’t know I was pregnant during those first few months, so I ate some peaches. You know, people told me that if I ate dao diec [unripe] peaches, my baby would be dumb. I’m so anxious. I’m fearful for the future of my baby.
Abortion Care says, “There will always be a need to provide access to second trimester abortion… A variety of research studies illustrate the multifactorial elements as to why women present for second trimester abortion.”
It then gives a list of common reasons why women get late term abortions:
- Concealed pregnancy or inability to recognize pregnancy by teenagers
- Unrecognized pregnancy in perimenopausal women
- Unrecognized pregnancy in women with irregular menstrual cycles, amenorrhea or women using contraception
- Denial of pregnancy
- Late identification of problems in pregnancy, such as fetal abnormalities
- Change of circumstances (abandonment of partner, violence by partner)
- Uncertainty about whether or not to have an abortion
- Fear/coercion by partner or family members
- Need to travel for an abortion
While the book did say that some women abort late because an amniocentesis shows the baby will have a disability, most reasons women give for late abortions are not related to this. And, of course, a baby with a disability has the same right to live as a healthy baby. Killing a child because they have a disability is the most lethal form of ableism.
Abortion Care, a book never intended for pro-lifers to read, exposes the myth that all late abortions are done for dire reasons. Pro-choicers spread this falsehood to convince people to support legal late abortion, but the truth is very different.
Source: Sam Rowlands ed. Abortion Care (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2014) 207, 208
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