A few days ago, Raw Story released an article titled “Jan Brewer signs abortion ban defining pregnancy before conception.” This headline makes little sense, so let’s delve into the article, Arizona’s ban, and the real facts.
Raw Story states that, on April 12, Arizona’s Governor Jan Brewer “signed one of the most controversial and restrictive abortion bans in the country, which experts say effectively bans abortions after 18 weeks and declares that a woman could be pregnant 2 weeks before she even had sex.”
There has been a move across the country lately attempting to enact “fetal pain” bills, which are said to amount to a ban on abortion after 20 weeks, often with some exceptions. Raw Story’s problem is that the Arizona ban would apply two weeks earlier (at 18 weeks, they say) than the Nebraska fetal pain law.
In its own language, the Arizona law would:
Prohibit abortions at or after twenty weeks of gestation, except in cases of a medical emergency, based on the documented risks to women’s health and the strong medical evidence that unborn children feel pain during an abortion at that gestational age.
If you’re like me, numbers make your head spin just a little – I personally prefer words. But there’s no need to be a rocket scientist to figure out exactly where Raw Story is getting their “18 week ban” claim from. Also in the Arizona law is a definition of “gestational age.” This term “means the age of the unborn child as calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.” Of course, Raw Story has to claim that, since a woman really isn’t pregnant until roughly two weeks after her menstrual cycle, she’s really only 18 weeks pregnant at 20 weeks.
The Guttmacher Institute (Planned Parenthood’s research arm) naturally had to register their complaint as well:
Guttmacher Institute’s State Issues Manager Elizabeth Nash “recently told Raw Story that obstetricians start the clock on pregnancies after the ‘last menstrual period’ to ‘be on the safe side.” (Emphasis mine.)
Despite Raw Story’s complaints and the Guttmacher Institute’s lie, I think almost any woman who has been pregnant can remember how her doctor determined the “gestational age” of her baby or how far along she was. Doctors ask for the first day of your last period and add 40 weeks to that. Sorry, Raw Story, but this is a commonly accepted, universally used standard – however confusing it may be.
Feel free to tell all the OB-GYNs that they need to stop telling women they were pregnant before conception. I doubt they’ll listen to you. But the medical professionals are the ones who can be blamed for this definition – not Governor Brewer or the Arizona legislature. In the end, like it or not, this is the definition of gestational age.
Lest you are wary of taking my word and my own personal experience on this, let’s hear what the American Pregnancy Association has to say on the matter:
Gestational age, or the age of the baby, is calculated from the first day of the mother’s last menstrual period. Since the exact date of conception is almost never known, the first day of the last menstrual period is used to measure how old the baby is.
Dr. Gerard DiLeo explains further on BabyZone:
According to the usual way pregnancy is calculated, you are considered four weeks pregnant [by the time you’ve missed your period]. At least we obstetricians call it four weeks, because we count from the last regular menstrual period. But since no one is pregnant before conception, this is a source of confusion on every pregnancy until the way we count is explained.
So why exactly do Raw Story, the Guttmacher Institute, and surely a whole host of pro-aborts have a problem with “gestational age”? It’s not because of any confusion – since when have they cared about women having all the facts?! It’s because, of course, it takes away abortion for an extra two weeks.
The Nebraska ban on abortions after 20 weeks (somewhat hailed in Raw Story’s article) uses a different method of calculating the baby’s age. This law uses the term “fertilization.” Aha, we’ve heard that one before! This is the one that usually makes pro-aborts cry foul with the inaccurate terms “fertilized egg,” “clump of cells,” and the like. Specifically, Nebraska’s ban on abortions comes after the “postfertilization age” of 20 weeks (which, according to doctors’ due date calculators, would actually amount to 22 weeks). Nebraska defines “postfertilization” as “the age of the unborn child as calculated from the fertilization of the human ovum.”
You would think all pro-abortion activists would spend their time decrying this definition, since it’s admittedly harder to figure out (though it does allow for a doctor’s reasonable opinion on the matter). But they have found a compelling reason to prefer the use of “fertilization” over “gestational age”: abortion on demand for two extra weeks! According to the usual definition of gestational age that doctors use, the Arizona ban would take effect at 20 weeks, and the Nebraska ban would take effect at 22 weeks.
At the height of hypocrisy, pro-aborts care more about their unrestricted killing sprees than medical science and typical medical procedures for determining a due date. They couldn’t care less that some research demonstrates that unborn babies may feel pain as early as 11 weeks. Someone remind me who’s on the side of real medicine and true human rights. In the end, Raw Story and the Guttmacher Institute prove that pro-aborts support “fertilization” as the beginning of human life only when it allows them to perform abortions for longer.