William Robert Johnson has done a spectacular job of compiling studies on why women in the United States undergo abortions. He compiled this chart showing the results of numerous studies of what percent of women reported that they were seeking abortions because of fetal indications. The oldest number, from the Alan Guttmacher Institute, was 3%. More recent data from states that track abortions and the reasons women cite indicate that fetal indications account for .1% (one-tenth of one percent) to 1.54% of abortions. So fetal indications are a rare reason for abortion to begin with.
What about if it's broken down for later abortions? The Alan Guttmacher Institute released a survey of why abortions are done after 16 weeks, with only 2% being done because of possible fetal indications. The Centers for Disease Control numbers indicate that of abortions done past 16 weeks, 24% are done past 21 weeks. That means for every 100 abortions done past 16 weeks, 2 are for fetal indications and 24 are past 21 weeks. If we assume that the 2 fetal indications abortions are done past 21 weeks, that means that 2/24 (8%) of late abortions are done "when a pregnancy goes terribly wrong" and the remaining 22/24 (92%) are elective.
This blog quotes an article in the New York Times noting that some "fetal indications" are a far cry from anencephaly or even from Down Syndrome:
Dr. Jonathan Lanzkowsky, an obstetrician affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan, described one woman who had been born with an extra finger, which was surgically removed when she was a child. Her children have a 50-50 chance of inheriting the condition, but she is determined not to let that happen. Detecting the extra digit through early ultrasounds, she has terminated two pregnancies so far, despite doctors' efforts to persuade her to do otherwise, Dr. Lanzkowsky said.Then, of course, we have the issue of women who are seeking abortions for fetal indications that don't really exist. These women were either misdiagnosed, given false information, or flat-out lied to. A percentage of the "fetal indications" abortions are these women, who wouldn't be undergoing abortions at all if they were being given accurate information.
How common is this problem? To my knowledge, nobody is collecting data. "Pro-choice" organizations are far too busy fretting that that women might go into prolife centers thinking they do abortions to worry about how many women are aborting loved and wanted babies that are healthy after all. One way to gather the data would be to require examination of the fetus after a "fetal indications" abortion to find out if there actually was anything wrong with the baby. But I'm not holding my breath. Regardless of how the women in question feel about it, NARAL et al. seem to believe that an unwanted abortion, even of a loved, planned for, and desperately wanted baby is better than no abortion at all.
And several women have died after seeking abortions for fetal indications, including mothers who were lied to in order to convince them to abort. Here are some of them:
- - Marla Cardamone, healthy baby; mother lied to
- - Michelle Madden, doctor referred without diagnostics or verification
- - Margaret Smith, self-referred; possible but unverified indication
- - Linda Boom, diagnosed but no autopsy to verify
- - Allegra Roseberry, healthy baby; mother lied to
Should we really be maintaining unfettered abortion on the grounds that some tiny percentage of the tiny portion that are for fetal indications might spare some gravely ill or deformed baby suffering -- especially now that perinatal hospice is coming of age for families who face grave fetal diagnoses? Or are abortion advocates just using the rare and moving stories of a few stricken women to further an agenda that has nothing to do with the real needs of these women and their families?