Pro-choice IS Pro-life

About a decade ago, I wrote a post Why Pro-Choice is Pro-Life. It wasn’t very detailed. Though, some good stuff came up in the comments.

Given the extremism in the U.S. today, I think this topic requires a much more detailed and well-thought out post. This post contains information that may be relevant anywhere, but is deliberately U.S. focused. I am a U.S. citizen. I am seeing increasing extremism in my country. I am appalled by the treatment of women in the U.S. today. Increasingly, we are passing legislation that turns women into incubators. I only wish that The Handmaid’s Tale were more far-fetched than it actually is.

These days, I’m even seeing people on the reddit sub /r/atheism arguing from a non-religious standpoint about why they think the anti-choice stance makes sense. I can’t understand that and want to have an answer on hand ready to explain all of the very many reasons why the so-called pro-life but really pro-fetus, anti-choice, and anti-woman stance is horrifically cruel and cannot be supported rationally.

Note that this is an amalgam of posts I’ve written on reddit. I’m going to attempt to concatenate them together and edit them into a coherent whole. I hope to succeed.

The first thing to understand is that the pain receptors do not form until the 24th to 26th week. So, by definition, there can be no pain or suffering from any abortion before that time. From the linked article:

Although the system is clearly immature and much development is still to occur (fig 1), good evidence exists that the biological system necessary for pain is intact and functional from around 26 weeks’ gestation.

The second thing to understand is that there are birth defects that can’t be detected until the 24th week, which is almost a month after most of the abortion bans in this country that are now being pushed to 20 weeks or even earlier. Performing an ultrasound to look for defects at 20-22 weeks is fairly standard and has a high rate of success in finding birth defects.

There are birth defects that cannot be detected in the first trimester. And some, including Down’s Syndrome may not be detectable in the first trimester even though it sometimes is.

https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/birthdefects/diagnosis.html

It’s good that we can detect most birth defects by week 22 because, as mentioned above, the neural development required to actually feel pain does not form until at a minimum the 24th week.

This means that if not for all of the stupid 20 week abortion bans being passed in a huge number of states, we’d be able to save those poor fetuses from developing pain receptors and put them out of their misery before their misery even begins, i.e. before they are sentient (able to feel).

The third thing to understand is that the vast majority of abortions are performed in the first trimester.

The majority (67.0%) of abortions were performed by ≤8 weeks’ gestation, and 91.5% were performed at ≤13 weeks’ gestation (Table 7). Few abortions were performed at 14–20 weeks’ gestation (7.2%) or at ≥21 weeks’ gestation (1.3%).

Or, at least if our laws were reasonable, they would be! The abortion restrictions in place today and the closures of abortion clinics that often cause women to travel tremendous distances to get their abortions do delay abortions pushing them later and later toward and sometimes beyond those same 20 week ban times.

The fourth thing to understand is that absolutely NO ONE is pro-abortion. The people who call themselves anti-abortion (or pro-life) in the U.S. today unfortunately also support a variety of policies that increase unwanted pregnancy and the need for abortion. They push things like abstinence only sex education. Science based sex ed delays onset of sexuality and increases use of birth control. Also, availability of birth control reduces the need for abortion. But, the same people opposing legal abortion are pushing back against requirements to provide insurance coverage for birth control. So, all of those policies that make it harder to get birth control or more expensive only increase unwanted pregnancy and the need for abortion. This means those screaming most loudly about stopping abortions are often the ones supporting the policies that increase the need for and number of abortions.

The fifth thing to understand about abortion is that “partial birth abortion” is a political term, not a medical term. The procedure is called intact dilation and extraction (IDX). It is used very rarely and almost exclusively to save the life of the mother or to remove dead fetuses in women who have had miscarriages. This is not an elective procedure.

In 2000, although only 0.17% (2,232 of 1,313,000) of all abortions in the United States were performed using this procedure, it has developed into a focal point of the abortion debate.

Patients who are experiencing a miscarriage or who have fetuses diagnosed with severe congenital anomalies may prefer an intact procedure to allow for viewing of the remains, grieving, and achieving closure. In cases where an autopsy is requested, an intact procedure allows for a more complete examination of the remains. An intact D&E is also used in abortions to minimize instruments introduced into the uterus, therefore reducing the risk of trauma. It also reduces the risk of cervical lacerations that may be caused by the removal of bony parts from the uterus, or retention of any fetal parts in the uterus.

That we made this procedure unavailable in such cases has likely caused a lot of suffering in this small percentage of cases and done nothing to help women or prevent abortions.

The sixth thing you should understand is that almost 15 times as many women die per 100,000 childbirths as do per 100,000 abortions. So, forcing women to carry to term and deliver a baby will result in the deaths of women. The mother’s life is always at much greater risk from childbirth than from abortion. This is a crucial point in this debate.

U.S. mortality statistics for women in childbirth versus abortion:

The pregnancy-associated mortality rate among women who delivered live neonates was 8.8 deaths per 100,000 live births. The mortality rate related to induced abortion was 0.6 deaths per 100,000 abortions. In the one recent comparative study of pregnancy morbidity in the United States, pregnancy-related complications were more common with childbirth than with abortion.

Translation: For every 1,000,000 women you force to carry to term, instead of 6 women dying, 88 women will die. Requiring a million women to carry to term will kill 82 more women than allowing abortion.

This death sentence for pregnancy is not to be taken lightly.

The seventh thing I’d like to point out is that declaring a fetus to be a person means that a woman who miscarries can be charged with murder. This is not hypothetical. Purvi Patel has already experienced this first hand. She has the dubious distinction of being the first woman in the U.S. to be arrested and convicted for what was most likely a miscarriage. Later the conviction was overturned. Note that the claim was that she induced an abortion but there were no traces of abortifacients in her blood.

For those who think forcing a woman to carry to term is OK, please understand that forcing a woman to carry to term is literally wrongful imprisonment. Anything she does that might remotely endanger that fetus puts her at the same risk as Purvi Patel. You’re robbing women of their lives for the duration of the pregnancy, enslaving them to the well-being of their fetus, a fetus that may be the result of rape.

And, that rapist may then sue for visitation rights or even custody in large swaths of the U.S. Really. It sounds like a joke to most reasonable human beings. But, take a look at the maps in this article on the subject. At first glance at the first map, one might think that this is a problem only in 7 particularly bad states. But, that’s 7 states explicitly allowing a rapist to get custody! Again, custody, not just visitation, which is horrific enough. But, then there’s the third map in the article showing all of the states where the rapist must be convicted in order to lose rights. And, this includes liberal states like New York and California and many others.

There is simply no way to grant a fetus any right to life without denying a woman her right to life. Until birth, only one of them can have rights. I’d grant rights to the person we know is sentient and intelligent, the woman.

We can and should take strong steps to reduce the need for abortion. We can and should implement science based sex education. But, we’re doing the opposite today in the U.S. with abstinence only education. We can implement programs that make birth control freely available and free to all. But, instead we’re making it tougher to get and more expensive.

So, our current political situation is based on increasing the need for abortion while reducing access.

Our choices are

1) Change all of our policies to reduce the need for abortions OR teach girls nothing about sex, involve them in creepy mock-marriages to their fathers, tell them that they are only of value to the world if they keep their hymans ’til marriage, make contraception expensive and difficult to get and thus increase the need for abortions.

2) Keep abortion safe and legal while making it as rare as possible OR make it illegal so that women die in back room abortions performed with coat hangers.

Abortions will be done legally or illegally. Desperate women take desperate actions. Making abortion illegal is already proven not to reduce abortions, just to increase the death rate of those abortions.

So, for those who want to reduce abortion, don’t make it illegal. Just advocate scientifically valid sex education and availability of birth control. It’s really that simple.

Advertisements

5 Responses to Pro-choice IS Pro-life

  1. Robert Bury says:

    How come I get notified of a new post, such as this one, about once every six months …. and not always or never? Seems weird.

    Scott: your post is an excellent first draft but sounds a bit hysterical. Thats ok I suppose as it is motivating your effort, but…you should edit the absolutist language.

    1. Re sentience, the issue is the older fetus that CAN feel….emphasis on those younger who can’t is irrelevant to this aspect of the issue. Ha, ha….I wonder if caring abortionists, or perhaps the law, would anesthetize the fetus first? I don’t know what the standard practice is for that. I see no reason not to require it.

    2. I am pro abortion. But I am also right to chose. So, what anyone thinks other than the woman involved is a very secondary issue.

    3. You can call partial birth abortion “rare” if you want to but at my hospital we had a guy who did it all the time. I don’t like catch phrase conclusions. Using actual numbers is always better.

    4. Calling a fetus a person resulting in possible charges of murder is exactly what the anti-abortion forces want. I’d mention instead that persons have all kinds of rights developed over the centuries and these never applied to fetuses. Persons are supposed to have social security numbers and be eligible for life insurance policies for instance. You change the definition and the unintended consequences are unknown.

    5. Forcing a woman to carry to term is NOT literally wrongful imprisonment. Check your dictionary for the terms.

    6. Similar to 5 is rapists gaining custody. There is loving but statutory rape and there is stranger violent rape. Its secondary to the issue of right to choose.

    7. The fetus does gain rights as it ages. Its the tri-mester approach announced in Roe…..a “balancing act” between the mother and the fetus as it ages. Given the safety of childbirth, its not right to life of the mother involved, but rather her right to choose.

    8. Re choices 1)…either/or analysis always comes off stilted actually encouraging people to make the wrong choice. Ease the issue.

    9. 2) why even offer the choice of making abortions illegal?

    10. Of course making abortions illegal reduces the number of abortions. It just doesn’t eliminate them.

    Hate ending on an even 10, but thems the apples.

    bobbo.

    • Hey bobbo. How’s it going?

      How come I get notified of a new post, such as this one, about once every six months …. and not always or never? Seems weird.

      I think you are getting all notifications. I’ve been spending most of my time on reddit these days. Unfortunately for my blog, reddit has a much larger community than I could ever hope to attract here. So the conversations have many more participants and my voice (for whatever it’s worth) is heard by more people. And, I learn more from others.

      Scott: your post is an excellent first draft but sounds a bit hysterical.

      I’d think hysteria is perfectly appropriate when discussing the uterus. 😉 Did you know that the root of the word is uterus because idiots of yore believed that A) only women got hysterical (obviously, they hadn’t met our current leader) and B) that hysteria happened because the uterus was traveling around the woman’s body making her hysterical. So, now you know (if you didn’t already) why hysteria and hysterectomy are from the same root.

      Thats ok I suppose as it is motivating your effort, but…you should edit the absolutist language.

      I feel pretty absolutist about this. I believe abortion should be available from qualified doctors to all women without restriction. I do not think that Senator Penis should have any say in the matter at all. Women already do not get elective abortions in the third trimester. IDX is a perfectly valid medical procedure that can save a woman’s life or provide an intact dead fetus to the parents of a still born infant giving them a body to bury and grieve over, as well as a better autopsy subject, if that is desired.

      Basically though, I want politicians and churches out of the conversation between a woman and her doctor.

      1. Re sentience, the issue is the older fetus that CAN feel….emphasis on those younger who can’t is irrelevant to this aspect of the issue.

      The other side thinks it’s relevant. They talk about the pain a fetus feels during abortion. They have no fucking clue what they’re talking about. Pain receptors don’t form until the end of the second trimester. That’s the point I think I made. Please read it again and let me know if I didn’t make that clear enough.

      Ha, ha….I wonder if caring abortionists, or perhaps the law, would anesthetize the fetus first? I don’t know what the standard practice is for that. I see no reason not to require it.

      I assume you mean in the rare (1.3% since you like actual numbers) third trimester abortions. Before a fetus can feel pain, this seems unnecessary.

      2. I am pro abortion. But I am also right to chose. So, what anyone thinks other than the woman involved is a very secondary issue.

      It certainly should be a secondary issue or even a non-issue. But, unfortunately, in right-wing extremist America today, everyone but the woman seems to have more say than the woman. Many states have few or just one abortion clinic for an entire large state. Catholic hospitals are regularly sued by ACLU for their failure to provide adequate care to women, even women whose health and life are in danger, even if they’re miscarrying, because the Catholic Bishops have determined that Catholic Hospitals (1 in 6 hospital beds in the U.S.) will not perform abortions. (As an aside, they also won’t honor medical advance directives in living wills.)

      https://www.aclu.org/issues/reproductive-freedom/religion-and-reproductive-rights/health-care-denied

      https://www.aclu.org/blog/reproductive-freedom/religion-and-reproductive-rights/catholic-hospitals-denied-these-women

      3. You can call partial birth abortion “rare” if you want to but at my hospital we had a guy who did it all the time. I don’t like catch phrase conclusions. Using actual numbers is always better.

      I did give numbers. 0.17%. See the original post.

      I’m having a hard time imagining that anyone at your hospital “did it all the time”. Are you sure you’re not confusing IDX with another procedure performed for second trimester abortions? I’d need to see the actual numbers from your hospital on that. As you say, “using actual numbers is always better.”

      IDX is rare at 0.17% of abortions when it was last legal.

      Now, it’s 0.0% leaving women in more danger from instruments inserted during alternate procedures to save their lives. And, grieving parents of still born fetuses/babies have nothing recognizable to bury or grieve over.

      4. Calling a fetus a person resulting in possible charges of murder is exactly what the anti-abortion forces want. I’d mention instead that persons have all kinds of rights developed over the centuries and these never applied to fetuses.

      Actually, I think in some countries in Central America it is becoming increasingly common to jail women for miscarriages or abortion. So, it’s getting harder to make this argument. It is also in the process of happening here. Numerous states are attempting to pass fetal personhood bills. So, I’m not sure this argument holds anymore.

      I’ve written this post mostly because even some atheists over on the reddit atheism sub are starting to argue against abortion. For the religious right, I would point to passages in the Bible stating that if someone causes a woman to miscarry it is not treated as murder. But, since I’m now finding myself arguing this case to atheists, quoting scripture is not going to help.

      Persons are supposed to have social security numbers and be eligible for life insurance policies for instance. You change the definition and the unintended consequences are unknown.

      The extremists in the U.S. are working on this. They’re starting with pushing through bills that would allow claiming a fetus as a dependent on tax forms.

      5. Forcing a woman to carry to term is NOT literally wrongful imprisonment. Check your dictionary for the terms.

      So, apparently “wrongful imprisonment” is also called “false imprisonment” and directs to that on wikipedia.

      From reading that page, it seems you are correct. What term do you think is better to describe the legal restrictions on a woman’s life that come with forcing her to carry to term, knowing that we have already had a case in the U.S. where a woman was charged with “feticide” and child neglect for miscarrying? Is it more like house arrest where the fetus serves as the monitor and failure to present a live fetus at the end of pregnancy results in possible jail time?

      Obviously, there are many activities in which this involuntarily pregnant woman who is being forced to carry to term cannot engage. She cannot have a drink, so being caught in a bar could be dangerous to her freedom. She might even be arrested for wearing a seat belt (which would protect her own life, but potentially put the fetus at risk). What if she were to fall down a flight of stairs? Is walking the stairs itself reckless endangerment?

      These examples get really extreme. But, when abortion is outlawed, women who miscarry are automatically suspect. Purvi Patel’s biggest problem in court was that she had searched the internet for information on abortion. There was zero evidence that she had had one or had taken any abortifacient drug (she had a blood test that came up negative). And, still she was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

      That conviction was later overturned.

      But, in a state where abortion is basically illegal, as it is in an increasing number of states, as the ban gets closer and closer to conception and the waiting period increases to push women to the point of the ban, women are not free.

      So, what term do you think is the proper term for the restriction of freedom that happens when women are forced to be incubators first and human beings second, if at all?

      I’m perfectly willing to change the text of this section if we can find the right term for the restrictions on a pregnant woman’s life when she is involuntarily pregnant.

      6. Similar to 5 is rapists gaining custody. There is loving but statutory rape and there is stranger violent rape. Its secondary to the issue of right to choose.

      It’s entangled however since some states do allow exceptions to their draconian abortion laws in cases of rape or incest.

      In the majority of states in the union, a woman who is violently raped and decides to or is forced to carry to term has a very real possibility of sharing custody with her rapist or at least having the courts grant him visitation rights.

      Remember, in our highly misogynistic society, few rapists are actually convicted. So, states like California and New York would still allow those rapists to claim custody or visitation rights.

      7. The fetus does gain rights as it ages. Its the tri-mester approach announced in Roe…..a “balancing act” between the mother and the fetus as it ages. Given the safety of childbirth, its not right to life of the mother involved, but rather her right to choose.

      I don’t understand what you mean by this. Would you please explain?

      Childbirth is 15 times more likely to kill a woman than abortion. So, childbirth is not as safe an option for any woman. The U.S. has the highest maternal mortality of any developed (allegedly) democratic nation. On the CIA factbook, we’re sandwiched between Lebanon and Qatar with a rate twice as high as our northern neighbor.

      https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/rankorder/2223rank.html

      Even in the absence of today’s restrictive abortion laws, third trimester abortions are almost never elective. They are because of a birth defect or the health and life of the mother.

      My point is that the government needs to stay the fuck out of the decision. In my opinion, this is a decision that must be made solely between a woman and her doctor. Every time. Right up to birth.

      If and only if the woman chooses to ask friends, family, spouse, or others to help her make the decision, that too is her choice. Requiring Mike Pence in the hospital room is an abomination.

      8. Re choices 1)…either/or analysis always comes off stilted actually encouraging people to make the wrong choice. Ease the issue.

      Noted. I’ll consider that.

      9. 2) why even offer the choice of making abortions illegal?

      Because it’s the choice we as a country are making today. So, doing so is an option. It’s a seriously fucked up option. But, we’re doing it!

      10. Of course making abortions illegal reduces the number of abortions. It just doesn’t eliminate them.

      Whenever you say “of course” rather than actually providing numbers, self-check yourself to see if you’re just using logic where actual data is required. Check to see whether you might be convinced but are really just being intellectually lazy.

      The actual facts do not support the claim that making abortions illegal prevents abortions.

      https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-care/abortion-rates-go-down-when-countries-make-it-legal-report-n858476

      https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/21/health/abortion-restriction-laws/index.html

      http://www.iflscience.com/health-and-medicine/legalizing-abortions-does-not-increase-abortion-rates-it-just-makes-them-safer/

      Sorry. But, as you say, “using actual numbers is always better.”

      Hate ending on an even 10, but thems the apples.

      Ever try ending on an odd 10?

      Or, do you just prefer when yours goes to eleven? 😉

  2. Rod McGillawee says:

    One situation you did not cover is that when a pregnant female is diagnosed with an intra uterine cancer, the treatment to save her life is an immediate abortion, because the pregnancy accelerates the cancer’s growth! If she is not aborted or prevented from having an abortion, it is a guaranteed death sentence! Legislation that outlaws such therapeutic abortions is state sponsored murder!
    We have a close relative that experienced such a situation, but she survived both the abortion and the follow up cancer treatment! She now has a subsequent child that she wanted, and is happily living cancer free so far!!!

    • Holy crap Rod! I had no idea. I need to find some links about that so I can add it to the original post. If you happen to have any links on the subject, please post them. If not I’ll do some googling soon.

  3. Rod McGillawee says:

    See a direct email coming!
    Rod

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: