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So...the recent war on women's health...I have a question

I'm asking this from a sincere place of wanting to understand differing views, and although I think a lot of us tend to lean in a similar direction, I am still a little leery...but here goes...


I support abortion rights.  Absolutely.  I had to come to terms with my feelings on that to a degree because I tended to think of it in terms of young teens or college students who got pregnant and didn't want their whole lives derailed.  Or single moms who were trying to improve their family's position etc.

Then, I had a friend who got pregnant.  Stable marriage, one child, happy, financially sound.  And she had an abortion.  It rocked my view a bit.  If I was to turn up pregnant in her same circumstances, I wouldn't really even consider it.  

Then I realized, that I can't really know her circumstances.  And I don't get to make those kinds of judgements.  I either support her right to make that decision for herself, or I don't. 


And I do.


Having said that, I am not necessarily in favor of abortion anytime under whatever circumstance.  I have friends who have had "late term" abortions due to fetal issues (anencephaly - essentially, no brain beyond the stem) and they were awful choices to be made, but I understood them.

But does that mean I have to support someone's right to terminate what could be a viable infant...just because?  I realize that these situations are probably more rare than the Santorum crew would have us believe, but I'm sure there are cases where women/girls just can't bring themselves to deal with the issue, and suddenly they are 27 weeks pregnant with a presumably healthy fetus, looking to end it.


I don't think I can support that.  There are too many children born at that gestational age for me to not to see the line between fetus and baby get really blurry.


Is it "wrong" or "not feminist" of me to think that, barring extraordinary circumstances (like infant viability, age/health of woman etc.) , an abortion should be performed before some certain gestational age?

What say all of you?

Tags: abortion

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The conversation on abortion is so strongly affectedc by anecdotes, I think it's important to bring in aggregated information as well. This is a CDC report on who gets abortions and when they get them.  To your question about gestational age, more than 50% of abortions take place in the first 8 weeks and 1.5% of abortions take place after 21 weeks, which makes them pretty exceptional and, I would imagine, generally driven by a fairly exceptional circumstance. 

HC, yes, I do recognize the infrequency (I mentioned that Santorum crew's attempt to skew the facts).


My question is more theoretical:


(While recognizing that these circumstances are very rare), should a woman be legally allowed to get an abortion after XX weeks barring exceptional circumstances (fetal/maternal health etc.).


Substitute different numbers in the question above - 20 weeks?  25?  35?  What's the tipping point, or is there one?


That's what I'm interested in hearing people's opinions on.

Honestly, I'm pretty hard line about it.  I support abortion rights, full stop. 

It isn't my business when, how, under what circumstances, etc., someone else chooses to do that.  And if that means that the one in a million mythical pink unicorn woman who just decides one day to not have an child ends up aborting a 20 or 25 or 30 or even 35 week old fetus for no apparent reason, then that is still her business and not mine and I will fully support her legal and moral right to make that choice.  And I will agitate for her right to have it paid for by whatever form of healthcare/insurance she has (including government run healthcare, which I think we all deserve anyway, but that is a whole other rant).  Doesn't necessarily mean it is the same choice I would make, but if it isn't happening inside my body, it isn't up to me.

I do understand how others could come down on the other side of this particular aspect of the abortion question (but really, only this aspect of it--I have a hard time with the straight up anti-choice), but for me, supporting women's rights to bodily autonomy means supporting all of them, no questions asked.  I don't think it makes you a "bad" feminist to want to put the line at a different place than I would, because I get that these are ethically fuzzy issues. 

I think you can't ask the question of what age and/or circumstances are okay without talking seriously about access - do people truly have access to health care, given the ever-decreasing numbers of clinics/hospitals offering the procedure, and decreasing numbers of physicians trained to perform it?  And look at the abysmal state of contraceptive access, sex education, rape (underreported for lots of reasons), abusive relationships, lack of health insurance, economic stability ... all of a sudden there are lots and lots and lots and lots of plausible reasons that a woman might find herself 20 weeks pregnant, making a decision that, all things being equal, she might have been able to make at 8.  We can't look at women getting abortions in the second trimester (I'm discounting the third because there is currently a law in place that is likely constitutional under the Roe line of cases that outlines the permissibility of those abortions) and assume that they forgot/were in denial/avoided the problem until then.


In order to get to this point, we have to be operating from the basic assumption that women are people.  I don't really believe in "anti-feminist" arguments because feminism is such an imprecise term.  I do, however, believe in "anti-woman" arguments.  And I think the argument that women cannot be trusted to make a good decision and to respect the fact of the fetus they're carrying while making that decision, is an anti-woman argument.  In my mind, you either trust women to make decisions with the same presumption of logic, rationality, meta-analysis (meaning view toward the big picture and not just themselves) and forethought that we afford the decisions of men, or you don't.  Full stop.

(To be clear, I don't think you're being anti-woman for asking the question, at all.  I'm just outlining where certain answers to the question fall for me.  Other people are free to fall in a different place, though I'd prefer they not enact legislation on that basis.  ;) )


And isn't that a pro-child position to take as well?  Because the majority of women who are making this decision can act with respect, logic, and rationality.  There are those that can't.  They are an infinitely smaller number than most of us believe, given the commonality of "monster mother" anecdotes that pass as fact in our culture.  But they're out there.  I wouldmuchrather those women be given the choice to end their pregnancies before they have the opportunity to bring a child into the world that they lack the empathy or capacity to care for.  I do not want those children to suffer whatever degree of abuse it requires to get them removed from the home of a parent that cannot and does not want to support them.  Certainly, the life of that child has worth like any other, and I'm not saying those kids are better off dead.  I'm just saying that maybe those women who did opt for abortion in those circumstances might also be making a rational choice.


So, to answyer your core question from my perspectie: I think that, without fixing our problems of education and access and pregnancy prevention, there cannot be a tipping point.  If we can address those issues, and if we can set up a system where children can be adopted or fostered into homes that we know can be supportive and healthy, then a tipping point could be possible discussed (though the Supreme Court also said that "pregnancy cannot and should not be compulsory" which, having been pregnant, I feel to my core).  But we don't live in that world yet.  And honestly, I suspect that if we did, we wouldn't even be asking that question.


I totally get why it would upset you... hell, the idea upsets me too.  

But since there's so little protection for women on the other side... it's hard to get educated about your health and options, it's hard to access (and getting harder all the time!) birth control and early pregnancy health care... I don't feel like I can comfortably blacklist late term abortions either.  

No matter the reason.  Even if I think it's terrible and sad and would like to see there be better options for women facing the last half of a pregnancy or imminent birth.  But as a culture we simply do a horrifyingly shitty job of supporting children and their mothers.  So I can't really feel good about dropping the hammer there.

I also suspect you would be very hard pressed to find a doctor who would feel comfortable performing a late term abortion on a healthy, gestationally advanced fetus/baby.  

I remember when Romney changed his view on abortion being acceptable for the life of the mother because of the dvd that Mike Huckabee put out.  So if Romney could change the law (thank Zues he can't) women who would die as a result of their pregnancies would be unable to end them.  So the mother *and* the child would die because Romney feels the need to speak for the rights of the child.  

I think if we go there, if we say you can't have an abortion "if", then that if can be changed to anything for any reason by the party in charge.  

This: "Then, I had a friend who got pregnant.  Stable marriage, one child, happy, financially sound.  And she had an abortion" would be me if I accidentally got pregnant. I carefully use birth control, but if it fails? Should I derail my happy family, my financial stability, and my career for a collection of cells that could grow into a baby if I let it? Sure, I would probably grow to love the child, but I would also resent the child a hell of a lot. My family is good the way it is.

I don't think I should have to have a kid just because.  The nice thing about living in the current age is that biology is not always destiny. My spouse and I can have a sex life without rolling the pregnancy die each time. I am also not romantic that a fertilized egg equals a baby. Nobody should force me to incubate a kid I don't want because my birth control failed. 

But this is different than your question about late term abortions, and I'm not sure which one you really want addressed. One implication in your post was that a woman who could theoretically care for a baby should (want to?) have it. Other implications are that I should be forced to incubate a baby, despite the fact that pregnancy made me suicidally depressed so that someone else can adopt it. I don't even believe that eating veal is ethical, so why should I turn myself into a brood animal for other's usage?

Late term abortions are different than the anecdote I've discussed here and a separate issue, I think.  

mcglory13 said:

One implication in your post was that a woman who could theoretically care for a baby should (want to?) have it. Other implications are that I should be forced to incubate a baby, despite the fact that pregnancy made me suicidally depressed so that someone else can adopt it. ?

I would say these are inferences and not implications.

Late term abortions are different than the anecdote I've discussed here and a separate issue, I think.  

Um yeah that was actually the issue I was trying to ask about. Kind of sorry I did. Not going to try again.

It's possible the anecdote is clouding the larger issue, and it's possible they are inferences (though it did seem you were judging your friend for her choice and the implication was it was the wrong one, to me).

It's a topic people have strong opinions on, I see the validity of discussing it, but I also wouldn't be surprised that people have these strong opinions? I don't know why you're sorry you asked, but it seems like your not open to an honest opinion. I'm not like, mad at anybody, other than perhaps a government that labels any women on birth control sluts. Them I'm kind of mad at. 

Huh.  I totally did not get judgment there.  It looks to me like having the circumstances come a little closer to home actually made her judge less than she might have.

Honestly, I think the question about a tipping point is one worth asking, both on a personal and a social level, even if the answer is that nope, there isn't one.  It's easy, given the current climate, to end up unsure of what's based in good data and what's not, what's a question of rights and what's not, and where each of our personal squick factors butts up against our values about what's okay with us on a social scale.  Right now, the obnoxious news cycle is robbing us of the decision to ask these questions without sounding like we're about to sign a petition to defund Planned Parenthood or something.  When it feels like the tipping point of what's okay feels like it's about to get rolled back to pre-conception, it's hard to even talk about.  I'm glad MM asked, though, because I don't want the Republicans to take away my ability to think critically, even if it's about whether my "no limits ever" position is as sound as I think.

Dude, I used the wrong form of you're. Judgement totally fair there. :)  The internet is hard. We are predisposed to read what people write negatively. I think I'm kind of peeved at the very notion that things like birth control and/or abortion have to be fought over like they are right now. These things were, to me, decided long ago as women's rights. It's possible the very fact we need to discuss them is annoying me. Still, judgment or no, I don't really care. I did remind spouse to go get a vasectomy post haste. Nobody gives men crap for that. 

If I had a major IUD fail now, at 42, with all the other stuff on our plate right now, I would choose to end the pregnancy. If it didn't end itself, of course, which it probably would since I'm the Queen of Early Pregnancy Loss. As awful as my early miscarriages were, it helped me draw a firm distinction between "baby" and "pregnancy." I couldn't think of them as lost babies or it would have just about killed me. I had to regard them as something unviable; something that wasn't meant to be. So if, Zod forbid, I found myself in a situation in which I might choose to end the pregnancy, it would be slightly easier to do because I have developed a schema for that kind of loss.


Also, I wouldn't tell anyone outside of the family. I'd be afraid of reprecussions, as paranoid as that sounds.


But, you know, since my husband's employer provides a health plan that paid for this delicious IUD, I have a pretty good chance of never having to be in that shitty situation. Yay for worry-free marital sex! (What a slut I am...) 

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