FACT CHECK: ‘Late abortions are sought mostly for dire medical reasons’

abortion, Kaiser Permanente

During abortion debates in Minnesota earlier this year, the issue of abortions taking place late in pregnancy was mentioned. One doctor, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist, took the opportunity to speak with MPR News about late abortions, but failed to mention the truth: they are not done only for dire medical reasons.

The abortion landscape in Minnesota

In January, Minnesota enacted the Protect Reproductive Options (PRO) Act, which immediately enshrined abortion as a ‘right’ in the state, although the state supreme court had already erroneously ruled the direct, intentional killing of an undelivered human to be a ‘right’. By enshrining it as a state constitutional right, however, legislators made it extremely difficult for a pro-life law ever to be passed by future generations.

Abortion advocates in the state House are now taking their dedication to abortion access even further by pushing for the passage of the Reproductive Freedom Codification Act, which would remove any laws regulating abortion that are on the books in Minnesota.

This includes a two-parent notification law for minors, a 24-hour waiting period, a requirement that only a physician carry out an abortion, and a requirement that abortions after the first trimester be committed in a hospital.

In July, Judge Thomas Gilligan ordered state officials not to enforce any of these laws, and Attorney General Keith Ellison failed to file an appeal. Gilligan also struck down laws requiring abortionists to inform women of the certain medical risks of abortion, and blocked felony penalties for abortionists who break state regulations.

If the Reproductive Freedom Codification Act passes, Sen. Zach Duckworth warned that Minnesota will be facing an abortion “free for all” — abortion at any time for any reason, with little hope of ever placing any regulations on the deadly procedures again.

Duckworth argued that Minnesotans expect legislators to place limits, “especially [for abortions] so late in a pregnancy, to try and safeguard and protect life.” Very few Americans believe that abortion should be legal through all nine months. A Pew Research 2022 poll found that only 19% of respondents support abortion throughout pregnancy for any reason, with no exceptions.


Why do women have abortions late in pregnancy?

Abortionist Dr. Rachel Pilliod told MPR News, “Generally what we’re talking about, with what falls under the umbrella of a ‘later abortion,’ is actually ending a wanted, or very desired pregnancy.”

Likewise, Jen Villavicencio of the pro-abortion American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists claimed, “When abortions occur in the third trimester, most often something has gone terribly wrong in the pregnant person’s life or pregnancy.” These statements are purposely vague — using the terms “generally” and “terribly wrong” to build compassion for killing innocent preborn children who are old enough to survive outside the womb.

This is a fabrication aimed at gaining the sympathies of compassionate people in the state of Minnesota and across the nation in order to secure abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. These vague terms are used because research shows that the claim that abortions only happen in the third trimester for dire reasons or emergencies is a lie.

One study from the pro-abortion group ANSIRH states, “The reasons people need third-trimester abortions are not so different from why people need abortions before the third trimester… [T]he circumstances that lead to someone needing a third-trimester abortion have overlaps with the pathways to abortion at other gestations.”

While the study doesn’t detail the reasons women give, it did note that women have abortions in the third trimester for multiple reasons, including the fact they didn’t know they were pregnant, that they had difficulty arranging abortions, and that the baby had a health problem or disability. None of the abortions were committed due to the mother’s health being at risk.

In addition, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute stated in 2016 that most late-term abortions are not medically necessary. That report revealed that at least 75% of abortions at 13 weeks and beyond were elective — meaning the mother chose to abort her baby after 13 weeks without any indication of medical necessity. It’s important to understand that abortion — the direct and intentional killing of an undelivered child — is actually not medically necessary.

The pro-abortion Turnaway Study also stated that from 2008-2010, about half of the women who had abortions after 20 weeks said they did so because they didn’t realize they were pregnant, couldn’t decide whether they should abort, couldn’t figure out where to go or how to get to the facility, or had trouble coming up with the money.

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Abortion of “wanted” babies inflicts trauma on the mother

If a woman is seeking abortion because of a fetal diagnosis, studies show that abortion is not the best option in such a situation — even with a condition determined to be fatal.

Women who choose abortion for their babies following a poor prenatal diagnosis are at a greater risk of emotional distress than those who choose to carry their babies to term. According to Perinatal Hospice and Palliative Care, which provides resources for parents who are facing such a diagnosis, significant research shows that women who have an abortion following a fetal diagnosis suffer “physical and emotional pain, with psychosocial and reproductive consequences.” Further studies show that aborting a ‘wanted’ baby due to a diagnosis can be a “traumatic event … which entails the risk of severe and complicated grieving” and that after 14 months, 17% of women who had an abortion following a fetal diagnosis were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as post-traumatic stress, anxiety, or depression.

There is no research that supports the idea that having an abortion following a prenatal diagnosis is psychologically better for a woman than carrying to term. In fact, one study determined, “Couples experienced selective termination as traumatic … [T]he women ultimately felt as if they were betraying themselves and their babies.”

“Termination is not a shortcut through grief,” noted the organization.

On the contrary, the study, “I Would Do It All Over Again: Cherishing Time and the Absence of Regret in Continuing a Pregnancy after a Life-Limiting Diagnosis” published in The Journal of Clinical Ethics, found that among women who chose to carry their child with a poor prenatal diagnosis to term:

Absence of regret was articulated in 97.5 percent of participants. Parents valued the baby as a part of their family and had opportunities to love, hold, meet, and cherish their child. Participants treasured the time together before and after the birth. Although emotionally difficult, parents articulated an empowering, transformative experience that lingers over time.

Abortions due to poor prenatal diagnosis are not compassionate to either the parents or the child. To directly kill a preborn child because of a disability is an act of eugenics. Instead of offering death, medical professionals have an ethical duty to offer support and resources for carrying to term and raising a child with that health condition or disability.

In addition, the idea that women are only having abortions late in pregnancy because of a threat to their health is a myth because after 21 weeks, children have a chance of surviving outside the womb. Even if ending a pregnancy is necessary because of the mother’s health, killing the child is not. If the child were truly “wanted,” as Pilliod claims, the doctor would carry out a preterm delivery or emergency c-section, and work to save both mother and child.

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