My friend Stephen wrote this about today’s special vote on banning abortions in Albuquerque.
As a future medical provider, I honestly wish the chances of developmental abnormalities went to zero after 20 weeks. While it’s true 20 weeks is after the period 3-8 weeks (See picture) where things can go horribly wrong, the chances of congenital anomalies, while much lower, are still a far cry from zero. Unfortunately things can and do go wrong after 20 weeks, and problems incurred during the crucial developmental stage of 3-8 weeks can worsen (some spontaneously abort, miscarriage ) Terminations after 20 weeks pregnancy are exceedingly rare as it is though, some 88% (Guttmacher Institute) to 91% (Foxnews.com of all places) of abortions happen in the first trimester ( “Of the 1.6 million abortions performed in the U.S. each year, 91 percent are performed during the first trimester (12 or fewer weeks’ gestation); 9 percent are performed in the second trimester (24 or fewer weeks’ gestation); and only about 100 are performed in the third trimester (more than 24 weeks’ gestation), approximately .01 percent of all abortions performed.” Foxnews.com Fast Facts) Why such a low number after 24 weeks, only .01% according to Fox? It’s my personal conjecture (HUGE disclaimer: I in no way am implying I know what a woman is thinking/feeling. I couldn’t possibly imagine what a woman is feeling physically, emotionally, mentally as her fetus is growing inside her, my guess is it’s a feeling hard to summarize) that women begins to really feel, in ways both seen and unseen, the life growing within in them, and a strong sense of attachment prevails. I don’t think many women flippantly decide to have an abortion after 20 weeks (why wait?), instead I believe the vast majority of the vast minority (.01%) make the incredibly difficult decision to have an abortion because of medical reasons, those unfortunate congenital anomalies, that while rare are still real possibilities. In light of this, I can not in good conscience vote for a law that bans abortions after the 20 week mark, in all cases except to save the mother’s life. Some congenital anomalies may be small, other’s will eventually take the life of the child, and still others produces children in a persistent vegetative state, devoid of the spark that makes us “alive” and not just breathing. I feel I’m in no position to force a mother to have a child with such problems, such a position is arguably more of an ethical quagmire than the abortion itself. Women in such dire situations need options, not precedents. Furthermore, the beginning of the bill, which you can see here in it’s entirety. http://www.cabq.gov/voting-elections/documents/nov-19-2013-special-election-ballot.pdf is full of controversial research on the pain receptor capability of a 20 week fetus. Make no mistake, this is NOT standard of care knowledge, and they present it as if the research is a done deal, it is assuredly not. Ultimately i feel this bill is largely symbolic in the war of Roe V. Wade, since only 0.1% of women have abortions after 24 weeks, but this bill is not without its victims. The symbolic victory will come at the cost of forcing women to have children with potentially devastating malformations, the potential cost of forcing a mother and family into undue anguish dealing with some of the more horrific anomalies children can be born with, and the potential cost of forcing a child to his/her self suffer unduly… Please consider this bill in its entirety, please take time to consider and re-evaluate your stance on this matter. Don’t just blatantly walk in and give it an up or down vote, there are real consequences to the passing of this bill.
I agree entirely and have only a few comments to add: If you want to read for yourself about this, here is the most comprehensive study on fetal pain, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Basically, fetal pain at 20 weeks is bunk. Total bunk. I want to call out my male friends about this matter: It’s difficult to let slide the fact that very few of you seem to care (judging by interactions with posts on women’s issues on my various social media outlets) about so-called “women’s issues” and that bothers the hell out of me. These issues are not purely endemic to women; they are human issues that affect all of us. The women who have been and are affected by this type of zealotry are your mothers, sisters, friends, wives, and girlfriends. You, as a man, have no right to tell a women what to do with her body and never will, and should support the women in your lives (and all women) by voting against such nonsense as this. Today, vote against junk science and vote against attacks on women’s rights.