Zero Quantifiable Data to Prove Late-Term Abortions as "Medically Necessary"

The following post is adapted from Secular Pro-Life's  resources, and an article by the extraordinary lawyer and human rights advocate, Kelsey Hazzard. Additional information regarding Massachusetts provided by C.J. Williams.


Despite conventional wisdom, there's zero quantifiable data to support the idea that all or even most late-term abortions are medically necessary.

Defining our terms.

First, the phrase "late-term abortion" is ill-defined. We've had past posts where we were including anything after the first trimester, but to be more conservative, this post is only for abortions performed at 21 weeks or later. [Update 2/8/20: some complain the term "late-term abortion" is not a medical term and/or is made up by pro-lifers. See this thread for examples of abortion providers, Guttmacher, and the media using the phrase "late-term abortion" over the years.]

Second, when we say "medically necessary" we're referring to abortions where the reasons cited were risk to the woman's life, risk to the woman's health, or fetal abnormalities.

Objections to the "medically necessary" definition.

We understand that many pro-life people object to characterizing some or all of these situations as "medically necessary abortions." Some people don't consider a procedure that destroys a fetus an "abortion" if the procedure is done to save the woman's life. Some don't believe there are any scenarios where a woman's life or health is better protected by late-term abortion than by induction of labor or c-section. Some view abortion due to fetal abnormalities as a type of involuntary euthanasia, not medically necessary to the woman and not clearly in the best interest of the fetus. Some especially object to calling abortions "medically necessary" for fetal abnormalities because not all such fetal abnormalities are life-threatening to the fetus (possibly the most controversial example being the very high rate of abortionwhen the fetus has Down syndrome).

SPL recognizes some relevant points here (click through to "Further Reading" for more thoughts on these subjects). But for this blog post, we leave all that aside. Here we're not debating whether and when abortion is justified for maternal health and life or for fetal abnormalities. We're demonstrating that even if you believe all of these reasons constitute medically necessary abortions, most late-term abortions are still not medically necessary.

In reality, most women seek 21+ week abortions for non-medical reasons, such as:

  • Not realizing sooner that they were pregnant, 
  • Struggling to find the time and money for later abortion procedures (which are more complicated and expensive than earlier procedures), and 
  • Difficulty deciding whether they wanted to continue carrying the pregnancy.
Here is a list of further resources, including data and studies, interviews of abortion providers and other pro-choice sources, and interviews of women who obtained non-medical late-term abortions.
For citations and further data, please click through here to Secular Pro-Life's web page.
meme credit: Secular Pro-Life/Kelsey Hazzard
In Massachusetts, abortion is legal up-to-birth if a doctor designates it "medically necessary" for the life/health of the mother. But as you can see from the data, most "medically necessary" reasons are not matters of medical necessity. Women who report upset, are struggling to find money, or are having difficulty deciding if they want  an unintended child are often given doctor's a-ok to abort. This means that abortion is legal de-facto up-to-birth in our state. This also means that the recent provision promoting abortion in the event of a fetal abnormality diagnosis, and added to our state budget bill (expected to pass before the end of the year), will add yet another not medically necessary point in our law encouraging women to abort rather than seek authentic support.
The bullet points above denote three vitally important areas in which our society fails women. They are not medically-justifiable reasons to take a preborn human's life. They are, however, three glaring examples of where our laws and our communities promote violence over empowerment and support.
Pro-choice friends, here's our common ground: Where are the "section 40's" (the abortion-promoting piece of the 2020 state budget proposal) that funnel public money to parenting women returning to school? Where are the "section 40's" that add money and plans to ensuring our universities have housing for women-with-children? Where are the "section 40's" that increase maternity leave, offer free or at-cost prenatal and post-natal care?
And pro-life friends, on this same ground: Where are you able to build a community that puts people before profit? Where do you support treating pregnancy and parenting like gifts, not disabilities? Do you have an intentional relationship with your legislators, and an ongoing conversation with them about proposed laws such as "An Act to Remove Obstacles And Increase Access to Abortion" (S.1209), or positive laws such as "An Act to Promote Adoption" (H.2638) or "An Act Relative to Parental Leave" (H.865) (2013)
These are questions -- not to batter ourselves with -- but to consider seriously, and then to act on the answers we find decisively and promptly. 
Abortion is not medically necessary. In Massachusetts, we have an obligation to protect our women and our preborn children from violence packaged as healthcare.

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  • C.J. Williams
    published this page in In The News 2020-12-15 09:58:25 -0500