To abort is to stop. And we need to stop working ourselves up into an unproductive lather over the word abortion. There are a lot of feelings, thoughts, and opinions on the issue, but the goal needs to be legal access to safe abortion in the United States at the end of the day. There is every rational, logical, evidence-based reason why.
I’ve been wary of taking a stance on the internet about something so controversial, but my feelings are absolutely certain, and thus, so must my resolve be.
It’s easy to dismiss the debate as complicated, or abandon the dialogue altogether when it gets too heated or emotional. But all that does is leave decisions up to those already in power. Those whose voices are already loudest and keep on being loud regardless of logic, truth, benefit, or common sense. I am not claiming to be a neutral human being (no one can be). I am a woman. I feel I have a right to autonomy over my own person physically, financially, emotionally, politically, and technically. I love babies. And, I believe pizza is better with pineapple on it. But in this instance I believe it is most constructive, efficient, true, and fair to come at this issue with facts.
I’m going to start with my foundation for this argument as it makes sense to me. You’re allowed to agree with all of it, some of it, or none of it, but you’ll know where I’m at.
1. I support pro-choice legislation to the full extent of what that means. Legally, this is not about abortion at all. It’s about rights. The right to have a medical procedure. This one happens to only be applicable to those with a uterus, which makes it impossible to disentangle from women’s rights as there is a significant overlap in the two groups (allowing for transgender persons with a uterus). As women have been traditionally disenfranchised legally, globally and for most of human history, it is not a wild leap to surmise that restricting access to this medical procedure, legally, is part of a mislead effort to intensify that disenfranchisement.
2. Abortion is not a rampant social crisis that needs to be legislated. No one wants to have an abortion. It is its own deterrent by virtue of being highly unpleasant. No one wants to kill babies either. No one is running around killing babies or encouraging others to do so because they hate babies so much (excepting sociopaths, and those with other mental illness whom do not represent American women as a whole).
3. It doesn’t really matter when life begins. I do not question the miracle that is life, procreation, and nature’s ability to regenerate. People are life, plants are life, bugs are life, animals are life. In my opinion, as it pertains to this argument, aborting a fetus has taken on an illogical place in the determination of life’s value, when killing a goldfish or your houseplant, or damning children to disease and violence are all acceptable treatment of life.
4. Men should have an opinion on this political issue. Men should speak up and absolutely support American citizens’ rights to freedom. And I do not think that anyone else with a uterus should have an enforceable legal opinion about my uterus just because we both have one. A woman signed an anti-abortion law in Alabama, women voted for the representatives proposing unconstitutional anti-abortion legislation, women harass patients and doctors at abortion clinics. Men are instrumental in abortion, since no one would need one without them, and there’s every reason for them to want to set a precedent for legal autonomy over ones person since they’re people. This is not about men making laws about women’s bodies. It’s about the government making laws about any American’s body autonomy. Which is not constitutional or acceptable. And the reason we get to enjoy TLC programming about people filing their teeth into points and implanting horns into their head. You can do whatever you want to your body and it’s no ones business, gender irrespective.
5. Just because I don’t want my congressperson in my gynecological exam room doesn’t mean I don’t want my gynecologist in there. I do. She knows a lot more about my reproductive health than me. That’s why it’s a condition of my employment to offset the exorbitant costs of maintaining a person vessel. Doctors should absolutely be involved in making what is unquestionably a difficult and important medical decision, giving the factual pros and cons of ALL options, and helping to navigate whichever option YOU CHOOSE as safely as possible. With absolutely no risk of policemen, religious representatives, or clowns, to weigh in. I heartily believe in a separation of Church and State is crucial to a free democracy in all ways.
6. Rape victims should always have access to abortion should they become pregnant. However, that condition is an unacceptable limitation to access. Any woman that finds themselves in possession of an unplanned pregnancy that they do not want, for any reason, all of which are none of my or your business, should be able to do so legally and safely under the care of a medical professional and offered counseling services. The rape and incest caveat is not enough. Especially, not enough ‘for now’. It reinforces that there has to be a justification or ‘good reason’ that the law should permit women to make their own medical decisions and that they’re incapable of making that assessment.
Now we can get into the juicy data. I have done my best to reference and link to the most current, fact-checked, neutrally sourced statistics. I’m happy to discuss if you take issue with any of them, but you better have done the same.
Approximately 926,200 abortions were performed in 2014, down 12% from 1.06 million in 2011. 2
Please remember there are approximately 166 million women in America.
In 2015, in America, the abortion rate was 1.2%.*
More than 91% of those were performed at, or before, 13 weeks gestation.*
1.3% were performed at, or after, 21 weeks gestation.*
24.6% of all abortions were non-surgical (using the morning after pill, or similar) at or before 8 weeks gestation. This percentage marked a 114% increase from 2006.*
*All above (most recent available) statistics obtained from CDC Abortion Surveillance Report
What I hope to convey from the above is that late-term abortions are the exception in the extreme. It is not hyperbole. No one is attempting to diminish the utter tragedy of that scenario. It is statistically rare. In most cases (I refuse to use absolutes because there are always exceptions that I do acknowledge, even if they represent a negligible percentage), these are performed only in the instance that the mother is in danger of death and proceeding otherwise would likely kill both mother and baby. This is because doctors don’t go on being doctors if they kill people and a late-term abortion poses a health risk including hemorrhage. Beyond that, the proposition is the least desirable scenario for all involved. No doctor wants to perform that procedure. No woman wants to undergo it. It is physically, emotionally, and mentally reprehensible. But in the interest of not dying, it is a medical necessity sometimes.
- A first-trimester abortion is one of the safest medical procedures and carries minimal risk: Major complications (those requiring hospital care, surgery or transfusion) occur at a rate of less than 0.5%.12,13
- There is no long-term risk of problems such as infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.14
- Leading experts have concluded that among women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single first-trimester abortion than if they carry the pregnancy to term.15
- The risk of death associated with abortion increases with the length of pregnancy, from 0.3 for every 100,000 abortions at or before eight weeks to 6.7 per 100,000 at 18 weeks or later.16
Doctors do not perform procedures that put their patients lives in unnecessary risks. It is incompatible with retaining their medical licenses. ‘Late-term’ abortion is something of a misnomer in the medical community as it almost always refers to procedures at 21-24 weeks gestation. No doctor will abort a full term baby without life-threatening reason regardless of legality.
There are many medical procedures that doctors perform at patient request without any request for justification or public protest.
The following is guidance from the American Society of Plastic Surgery regarding breast augmentation:
The decision to have plastic surgery is extremely personal and you will have to weigh the potential benefits in achieving your goals with the risks and potential complications of breast augmentation. Only you can make that decision for yourself.
The risk for complication is 1% (double that of first-trimester abortion) and is never medically necessary, as far as I can find.
Don’t get lost is the weeds here in terms of your feelings about fake tits. The point is that women (and anyone else) are considered to have the legal aptitude to decide if they want boobs legally, but not whether they want babies. We have the choice. Unquestioned.
It’s also worth thinking about the alternative scenario should abortion become illegal (again). Both historically and as evidenced by the reality in other countries where that is currently the case the resultant challenge will not be an influx of unwanted babies. It will be an increase in clandestine abortions, performed unsafely. Remember Dirty Dancing?
Statistics from WHO in reference to unsafe abortions globally:
- Between 2010–2014, on average, 56 million induced (safe and unsafe) abortions occurred worldwide, each year.
- 3.5% of women aged between 15–44 years.
- 25% of all pregnancies ended in an induced abortion.
- Around 25 million unsafe abortions were estimated to have taken place worldwide each year, almost all in developing countries.
- Over half of all estimated unsafe abortions globally were in Asia.
- Each year between 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion.
- Almost every abortion death and disability could be prevented through sexuality education, use of effective contraception, provision of safe, legal induced abortion, and timely care for complications.
Adopting illegal abortion policies and laws will not save babies. They will kill women.
As to the arguments that rescinding abortion services violates social justice, indirectly supports systemic poverty, homelessness, and lack of education, as well as being inherently racist – are totally, statistically true. And really shoots a hole in the whole ‘saving children’ appeal. BUT that does NOT mean it’s a poor issue, or a brown one.
Every cross-section of American women of child-bearing age is represented in every statistic. Because abortions don’t ‘happen to’ anyone and it’s not because they’re bad, stupid, or weak. The numbers don’t lie.
No racial or ethnic group made up the majority of abortion patients between 2008 and 2014: Thirty-nine percent were white, 28% were black, 25% were Hispanic, 6% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 3% were of some other race or ethnicity.
24% were Catholic, 17% were mainline Protestant, 13% were evangelical Protestant and 8% identified with some other religion. 38% of patients had no religious affiliation.
46% of all abortion patients had never married and were not cohabiting.
As God hasn’t smote half a million (an approximation) American women, that I’ve noticed, it might be time to admit that religion, it’s practice, and it’s place in people’s lives is personal and not to be imposed on any other person without their consent or request.
In 2014, the majority of abortion patients (60%) were in their 20’s, and the second-largest age-group was in their 30’s (25%).
Patients aged 20–24 obtained 34% of all abortions, and patients aged 25–29 obtained 26%.6
This means that 85% of patients who had abortions are adults, generally considered to be legally capable of owning cars and houses, working, operating bank accounts, using power tools, and every other decision that pertains to living one’s life as a free American. They can vote, too, and they should.
The three most common reasons [to abort, of those recorded]—each cited by three-fourths of patients—were concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents.
49% of abortion patients live below the federal poverty level.
75% of abortion patients in 2014 were poor or low-income. Twenty-six percent of patients had incomes of 100–199% of the federal poverty level (low-income), and 49% had incomes of less than 100% of the federal poverty level ($15,730 for a family of two).*6
In case you believe that patients can afford an abortion, but not a baby, costs range from $350 to $950, dependent on the clinic, insurance coverage, and sometimes stage of pregnancy. According to a 2017 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average cost of raising a child from birth through age 17 is $233,610. To clarify, poverty is not herein to be considered a necessary justification for procuring an abortion, but evidence that patients in a position of financial hardship stand to suffer disproportionately as a result of legal bans.
94.4% of abortion patients identified as heterosexual in 2014.
Exposure to sexual violence was substantially and significantly higher among patients who identified as lesbian (0.4%), bisexual (4.1%), or something else (1.1%) including physical violence by the man involved in the pregnancy.
People of color and LGBT people are disproportionately likely to be low income and depend on federally funded insurance like Medicaid, so it’s pretty hard to ignore the impact that these bans will have on these communities in particular.
59% of abortions are obtained by women with children.
51% of abortion patients in 2014 were using a contraceptive method in the month they became pregnant, most commonly condoms (24%) or a hormonal method (13%).8
Now that we know, statistically, that women who undergo abortions are not young, stupid, or asking for it, and that their main motivation is refusing to put their child in a situation where they’ll suffer from inequalities and inadequacies in their care (which more than half know from personal experience) we can take a look at the alternative. Statistically.
As of September 2017, there were an estimated 442,995 children in foster care in the United States.
Of the estimated 247,631 children who exited foster care during 2017:
– 49% were reunited with parent(s) or primary caretaker(s).
– 24% were adopted.
– 8% were emancipated.
– 10% went to live with a guardian.
– 7% went to live with another relative.
– 2% had other outcomes including being transferred to another agency, running away, and death.
Approximately 26,000 children a year age out of foster care and are statistically more likely to drop out of school, become unplanned parents, experience homelessness, or end up in jail.
About 57,000 American children are adopted in the United States each year.
Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado have considered legislation that would prevent LGBTQ persons and families from adopting OR fostering children in need.
The needs of children we already have in state care are already not being met by those looking to adopt, and those that are adopted are often children who went into care at age 6 or 7 and returned to other family members. The prospective mothers, by their own reckoning, and in line with their federal tax returns, are unable to care for a (or an additional) child. There are not enough volunteers to take that responsibility in their stead. Those that do want to adopt face the challenge of legal fees, the possibility of losing their child depending on varied state laws, and hurdles to approval for adoption including sexuality, marital state, and gender. The foster system is not equipped to ‘give them the best chance’ at life either.
For the record:
Never forbids abortion.
Says life begins with breath.
God says a fetus has less value than a woman in Exodus.
God mandates abortion for unfaithful wives in Numbers.
God frequently demands slaughter of infants and fetuses.
Jesus never mentions it.
Jesus Christ did oppose the death penalty.
Lots of nice, Christian, educated, financially stable, insured women have had abortions.
In 2014, 91% of abortion patients had graduated from high school; more than one in five had a college degree.
53% paid for their abortion out of pocket; Medicaid was the second-most-common method of payment, used by 24% of patients.
24% were Catholic, 17% were mainline Protestant, 13% were evangelical Protestant and 8% identified with some other religion. 38% of patients had no religious affiliation.
Abortion patients were less likely to have NO health insurance coverage in 2014 than in 2008 (28% vs. 34%), likely because of the Affordable Care Act.
If only to provide another, less contentious, frame, consider the following. Let’s pretend that abortions are root canals. Unarguably, no one is asking their dentist for a voluntary root canal. They are deemed a necessary evil as the alternative is a painful rotting tooth and likely, infection. Sometimes you need one. Telling someone they consented to an abortion by consenting to sex is like telling them they consented to tolerating their painful, rotting tooth when they ate Skittles. Yes, one led to the other. Maybe they were brushing and flossing and swishing (using contraception) and got a cavity anyway. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe something hit their face really hard one day while playing youth sports and knocked their tooth out and this infection is not of their own doing at all but society has decided she deserves the consequences because she was asking for it by wearing cleats in the afternoon. Does this feel silly yet? I do understand that pregnancies are not infections. One can be eradicated with antibiotics and the other can reinforce poverty, lack of education, and homelessness.
Let’s take a quick minute to take a look at the Netherlands, where the outcomes are closer to what I believe all Americans would like to see.
The abortion rate in the Netherlands fluctuates between .5% and .7%, the lowest abortion rate in the world. Why? “Almost all secondary schools and about 50% of primary schools address sexuality and contraception…The mass media address adolescent sexuality and preventive behavior. Very large scale, non-moralistic, public education campaigns that are positive towards teenage sexual behavior appear to be successful.”
The maternal mortality rate in the US is 2.1%. It is 1.2% in Canada, 0.6% in the Netherlands, and 0.8% in Switzerland.^
America is considered to have a 7% unmet need for birth control.^
^UN World Abortion Policies 2013
Among developed nations the US has the highest rate of teen pregnancy (5.7% of 15-19 year olds) and Switzerland has the lowest (.8%).
Since 1973, when abortions in the U.S. were legalized, abortion has decreased. This is likely influenced by better healthcare, sexual education, availability and variety of contraception methods, but as those are all under threat as well it is worth mentioning we are already headed in the right direction.
- Nearly half (45%) of all pregnancies among U.S. women in 2011 were unintended, and about four in 10 of these were terminated by abortion.1
- Nineteen percent of pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) in 2014 ended in abortion.2
- Approximately 926,200 abortions were performed in 2014, down 12% from 1.06 million in 2011. In 2014, some 1.5% of women aged 15–44 had an abortion.2
- At 2014 abortion rates, one in 20 women (5%) will have an abortion by age 20, about one in five (19%) by age 30 and about one in four (24%) by age 45.5
The following serves to both rationalize that abortions are not a pervasive social problem, and indeed cannot be, as the infrastructure to support women’s health is lacking. The level of harassment is simply astonishing and disgusting.
Ninety percent of all U.S. counties lacked [an abortion providing] clinic in 2014, and 39% of women of reproductive age lived in those counties.2
Of the 1,671 U.S. abortion providing clinics in 2014, 46% of abortion clinics offered very early abortions (at four weeks’ gestation or earlier, before the first missed period), and 99% offered the procedure up to eight weeks from the last menstrual period. Seventy-two percent of clinics offered abortions up to 12 weeks, 25% up to 20 weeks and 10% up to 24 weeks.9
Eighty-four percent of clinics reported at least one form of anti-abortion harassment.
The Hyde Amendment, in effect since 1977, essentially bans federal dollars from being used for abortion coverage for women insured by Medicaid, the nation’s main public health insurance program for low-income Americans. Similar restrictions apply to other federal programs and operate to deny abortion care or coverage to women with disabilities, Native Americans, prison inmates, poor women in the District of Columbia, military personnel and federal employees.18
The above can be considered in whole, or in part, but does outline the lack of truth in nearly all arguments for illegalizing abortion. I respect everyone’s right to exercise their religion, to live their life in the manner that beings them happiness, and everyone’s rights to their own body. And I expect the same in return.
“My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.” – Abraham Lincoln
References without Hyperlinks
1. Finer LB and Zolna MR, Declines in unintended pregnancy in the United States, 200
8–2011, New England Journal of Medicine, 2016, 374(9):843–852, doi:10.1056/NEJMsa1506575.
2. Jones RK and Jerman J, Abortion incidence and service availability in the United States, 2014, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2017, 49(1):17–27, doi:10.1363/psrh.12015.
3. Jones RK, Jerman J and Ingerick M, Which abortion patients have had a prior abortion? Findings from the 2014 U.S. Abortion Patient Survey, Journal of Women’s Health, 2017, doi:10.1089/jwh.2017.6410.
4. Jones RK and Jerman J, Abortion incidence and service availability in the United States, 2011, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2014, 46(1):3–14, doi:10.1363/46e0414.
5. Jones RK and Jerman J, Population group abortion rates and lifetime incidence of abortion: United States, 2008–2014, American Journal of Public Health, 2017, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.304042.
6. Jerman J, Jones RK and Onda T, Characteristics of U.S. Abortion Patients in 2014 and Changes Since 2008, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2016, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/characteristics-us-abortion-patients-2014.
7. Finer LB et al., Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantitative and qualitative perspectives, Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 2005, 37(3):110–118, doi:10.1363/3711005.
8. Jones RK, Reported contraceptive use in the month of becoming pregnant among U.S. abortion patients in 2000 and 2014, Contraception, 2018, doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2017.12.018.
9. Jones RK, Ingerick M and Jerman J, Differences in abortion service delivery in hostile, middle-ground and supportive states in 2014, Women’s Health Issues, 2018, doi:10.1016/j.whi.2017.12.003.
10. Jerman J and Jones RK, Secondary measures of access to abortion services in the United States, 2011 and 2012: gestational age limits, cost, and harassment, Women’s Health Issues, 2014, 24(4):e419–e424, doi:10.1016/j.whi.2014.05.002.
11. Jatlaoui TC et al., Abortion surveillance — United States, 2013, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2016, Vol. 65, Number SS-12, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/ss/ss6512a1.htm.
12. Upadhyay UD et al., Incidence of emergency department visits and complications after abortion, Obstetrics and Gynecology, 2015, 125(1):175–183, doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000603.
13. White K, Carroll E and Grossman D, Complications from first-trimester aspiration abortion: a systematic review of the literature, Contraception, 2015, 92(5):422–438, doi:10.1016/j.contraception.2015.07.013.
14. Boonstra HD et al., Abortion in Women’s Lives, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2006, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/abortion-womens-lives.
15. Major B et al., Report of the APA Task Force on Mental Health and Abortion, Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2008, http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/abortion/mental-health.pdf.
16. Zane S et al., Abortion-related mortality in the United States, 1998–2010, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 2015, 126(2):258–265, doi:10.1097/AOG.0000000000000945.