This drive to mobilize the masses is deceitful for two primary reasons.
First, the action alert is intended to convey a false impression about why late abortions are done. The impression that NARAL and other abortion lobbyists work to convey is that these late abortions, which involve inflicting a painful death on a baby close to or past the point of viability, are done primarily "when a pregnancy goes horribly wrong." This is demonstrably false on its face. The abortion lobby's own research indicates that the majority of abortions after 20 weeks are done for the same reasons that abortions before 20 weeks are done; they're just done later.
Second, they are trying to give a false impression that "when a pregnancy goes horribly wrong," abortion is the solution that is best for the woman. Again, this is demonstrably false. Big Abortion knows that the later in the pregnancy, and the more wanted the baby, the more devastating the emotional impact of abortion is on the mother. Abortion is the worst thing that you can do.
Let's look at each of those false claims:
Late abortions are done "when a pregnancy goes horribly wrong."
The abortion lobby is very careful to lump late second-trimester abortions (20 - 24 weeks) in with second-trimester abortions in general (12 - 24 weeks). This allows them to refer to "abortions after the first trimester" and allow people to imagine abortions at 13 or 14 weeks, which people are squeamish about but not often totally horrified over. If absolutely forced to address abortions past 20 weeks, they'll trot out some woman who was given a dreadful prenatal diagnosis and present her as typical.
So though the data are buried carefully, we can get some solid clues. Human Life International put together a review of information on why later abortions are done.
One source of information is a study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute on why women were undergoing abortions beyond 16 weeks.
Only two percent (2%) said "a fetal problem was diagnosed late in pregnancy," compared to 71% who responded "did not recognize that she was pregnant or misjudged gestation," 48% who said "found it hard to make arrangements," and 33% who said "was afraid to tell her partner or parents." The report did not indicate that any of the 420 late abortions were performed because of maternal health problems. ["Why Do Women Have Abortions?," Family Planning Perspectives, July/August 1988.]
Keep in mind as well that "fetal problem" is a broad category that includes everything from a fatal condition like anenecephaly, through conditions like Down Syndrome which don't prevent the person from living a full, happy life, to things like cleft lip or an extra finger.
Lest anyone assert that surely the social reasons are at the earlier end of the "past 16 weeks" spectrum and the "fetal diagnosis" abortions are the ones past 20 weeks, let's look at what we learned during the Partial Birth Abortion battle in the 1990s. You can follow the link for the full article. Here's a sample:
US News & World Report investigated abortion supporters' claims about late abortions. In looking at the reasons for late abortions, the report said:
- [T]he survey undermines another claim sometimes made by abortion-rights groups, at least with regard to the D&X issue: that late abortions are usually done for medical reasons, particularly to protect the life and/or health of the mother. Only 9.4 percent of late abortions at clinics that responded to the U.S. News survey were done for medical reasons, either to protect the mother's health (a rare situation) or, more commonly, because of fetal defects such as spina bifida and Down's syndrome. For the handful of very late abortions, those after 26 weeks, medical reasons do predominate. But for post-20-week abortions generally, about 90 percent were classified by the clinics as "nonmedical." Source: When abortions come late in a pregnancy:
According to the CDC, from 1999 - 2008, roughly 5.8% of abortions were done at or after 16 weeks, and 1.4% at or after 21 weeks. So of abortions done past 16 weeks, 76% are at or before 20 weeks and 24% are at or after 21 weeks.
So let's go back to the AGI study that found 2% of 16+ week abortions being done due to some prenatal diagnosis of a health problem in the baby. CDC data indicate that 24% of those 16+ week abortions were actually done at 21+ weeks. That would mean that for every 100 abortions done past 16 weeks at AGI-surveyed facilities, 24 of them are past 20 weeks, and 22 of those post-20-week abortions, or 83%, were for social reasons. That's far closer to the 91% number U.S. News found than it is to the image the abortion lobby is trying to convey.
That's enough to show that the image of late-abortions for "when a pregnancy goes horribly wrong" is just a way of turning women with tragic situations into human shields.
Let's move on to the second false claim:
Abortion is the best solution to late pregnancy problems.
This goes beyond the political and into the personal. Many women who get an unfavorable prenatal diagnosis report pressure to abort that can reach the level of lying, terrorizing, threatening, and even in some cases scheduling the abortion immediately while the woman is too stunned by the news to resist.
I find it telling that the same people who scream bloody murder that a prolife pregnancy center might "mislead" a woman "at a vulnerable time" are not the least bit up in arms when doctors, genetics counselors, and social workers browbeat and even lie to women in order to convince them to abort loved and wanted babies!
There are so many ugly creatures hiding under the eugenics abortion rock that I can't even begin to tackle them here. I'll just mention them briefly:
- It's deplorable the way doctors put their own personal eugenics agenda ahead of their patients' needs, and its doubly deplorable the way Big Abortion colludes with them.
- Every aspect of a "fetal indications" abortion makes it especially devastating to the mother. How disgusting is it that the abortions that are most likely to emotionally crush women are the ones the self-appointed champions of women push for the hardest?
- Late abortions are not low risk. They carry all the risks of delivering a living child plus the risks involved in whatever it is the doctor does to make sure that the baby dies. It's inexcusable to push risky and unnecessary procedures on stressed and vulnerable women in the name of supposedly protecting women's lives and health.
- If a baby has health problems that are treatable or manageable, the compassionate response is to treat or manage the health problems.
- If a baby has a fatal condition, perinatal hospice allows the family to nurture and love the child for every moment of his or her short life, providing palliative care to keep the child comfortable.
- If the woman is given supportive care and it turns out the diagnosis or prognosis was wrong, she has the immeasurable joy of bringing home and loving her baby. If the woman aborts and the prognosis is wrong, her loved, wanted, and healthy-after-all baby is dead. How terrifying a prospect is that?