I recently wrote that late term elective abortions -abortions that occur in the third trimester of gestation- should be illegal except in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or to remove a dead fetus.
I also stated unequivocally that I would rally for only medically prudent restrictions on first trimester abortions, that any restrictions during the first trimester would only be those needed to ensure that the procedure is safe for the mother. Beyond mothers’ safety I explicitly said no first trimester restrictions. None. In the first 13 weeks of pregnancy terminating a pregnancy would be solely the choice of the mother.
Why would I, an avowed Pro-Life advocate, make such a declaration? Because my reasons for being Pro-Live stem from a Civil Rights perspective, not a religious one. I believe that we all should have the choice to reproduce or not AND that we all have the Right To Life, an argument that far too often is seen as an OR equation rather than an AND one. To legislate a woman’s Right To Choose in the first trimester is to grant civil rights to a potential human being, not a current one and to deny a woman the Right to terminate a pregnancy from conception is based on religion, not science.
This threading of a knotty thread through a tiny needle eye is a maze of amazing complexity and an absolute pitting of a woman’s Right to Choose against a child’s Right to Life. To satisfy two contradictory and competing Rights I proposed that first trimester abortions be completely legal while third would be illegal except to save the life of the mother or to remove a dead fetus. I proposed a binary solution at either end with a hazy center. (Today I will ignore the hazy center.)
When I made this proposal I knew the United States was a quilt of restrictions on abortion, that the Right to Choose ended at different times and for different reasons depending on which of the United States she lived. Alabama’s draconian and insane total ban with capital crime punishment for a woman or doctor who aborted a week old blastocyst is an absolute attack on a woman’s Right to Choose and has zero Civil Rights value. New Mexico’s any time for any reason lack of restrictions is an equally glaring afront to justice as it in no way assures our first right, the Right to Life.
I knew abortion restrictions varied but not by how much nor which states were more Choice oriented and which leaned toward Life. As of May 22, 2019 there are seven US states that have no gestational time limits on abortion. Those states include Alaska, Colorado, New Mexico, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon and Vermont. This leaves us with 47 states that agree with my thesis that a more developed fetus is entitled to protection that an embryo is not.
- Nineteen states ban abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy. All of those states include exceptions for threats to the life and physical health of the mother.
- Four of the 19 have exceptions for fatal fetal abnormalities while one, Arkansas, includes exceptions for rape and incest.
- Five states ban abortion at 24 weeks of pregnancy. All states include exceptions for the life of the mother, with Nevada and Massachusetts also carving out exceptions for the “general health” of the mother.
- Eighteen states ban abortion at the point of fetal viability, which doesn’t have a clear scientific definition but is accepted as falling between 24-28 weeks of gestation. All of those states have exceptions to protect the life of the mother, as well as their physical and/or general health.
(Please note that in my earlier statement I used 26 weeks or the beginning of the third trimester as my stopping point for elective abortion.)
- Virginia bans abortion at the third trimester, which begins at 25 weeks, with exceptions for the life and general health of the patient.
Please note that the above list is CURRENT, not pending. Alabama’s abomination has not yet gone into effect.
I got a lot of push back stating that third trimester abortions don’t happen and therefor there is no need to legislate them. This is nonsense for two reasons. First, given the fact that it is illegal to perform abortions after 28 weeks in all but seven states and that in most of these restrictions for anything except the mother’s life begin far earlier of course we have very few abortions performed after 26 weeks. The, “It just doesn’t happen,” statement is a complete red herring. It doesn’t happen because it is illegal.
Secondly, protecting lives doesn’t stop if the numbers of victims is low. The United States is down to less than one-million annual abortions. One-point-three percent of one million is 13,000. That equals over ten-thousand abortions that occur annually in the least trimester. The “It just doesn’t happen number” equals ten-thousand children killed.
Far more important than the numbers is the underlying precepts. We have one group declaring that abortion is always a mother’s prerogative regardless of gestational age. (A statement I knew was contrary to fact though I had to look up the specifics.) While we have another group insisting that legal protection should be accorded zygotes.
My position is not radical, it is informed. (Which does not make it “right.”)
In my opinion- Protecting children in the last trimester of pregnancy should be the pre-born’s Civil Right.
In my opinion – Protecting a woman’s Right to Choose in the first trimester of pregnancy should be a Civil Right.
In my opinion – Second trimester abortions should be legally restricted, as they ALREADY are in 43 states, but today I focus on the extremes, the binary of yes for first trimester versus the binary of no for the third. Please note that nine tenths of abortions occur in the first trimester.
Would I love to see zero second trimester or later elective abortions? Absolutely, but all I was advocating was acknowledgement that third trimester children deserve protection under the law. The Right to Life is our first Civil Right. Without it nothing follows.
This link will verify what I wrote. Look carefully and you’ll note that I substituted “Mother” for “Patient.”