On late-term abortions and sex ed/contraception

Something that’s been bugging me in the increased abortion talk after George Tiller’s assassination is the derail into talking about sex ed and contraceptive availability.

Sex ed and contraceptive availability and looking after babies are extremely important things. They’re vital. And they will also do nothing to reduce the rate of late-term abortion. (They won’t make earlier abortions go away either, but that’s another post.) Telling opponents of late-term abortion that if they didn’t want late-term abortions to happen, they should have supported sex ed is a complete furphy. Telling them that if they don’t want late-term abortions to happen, they should improve health insurance and new-mother support systems is bullshit. It’s just not true. And it obfuscates the real issue.

Late-term abortions don’t typically happen because someone was refused or didn’t know about the morning after pill. Late term abortions don’t happen because someone didn’t know how to put on a condom properly. Late term abortions don’t happen because someone didn’t know that their birth control pill wouldn’t work properly while they had gastroenteritis. Late-term abortions don’t happen because people can’t afford to raise a baby.

They happen because pregnant people are deathly, immediately ill. They happen because they have uncontrollable fulminating pre-eclampsia, mirror syndrome, cancer, or a variety of other life-threatening illnesses. They happen because fetuses have unsurvivable chromosomal atypicalities or anencephaly or hydrops fetalis. They happen after catastrophic issues arrive in much-wanted pregnancies, and they happen in the context of overwhelming grief. And they happen because men rape eleven-year-olds.

As women we don’t and can’t get much choice in a whole lot of things that go on with our bodies.

Late-term abortions should be safe, legal, and ACCESSIBLE.

You want them to be rarer? You might make tiny inroads by not raping young girls anymore. And by offering universal health insurance, to pick up the few cancers that might be amenable to early detection and treatable by less invasive means if picked up early. Otherwise? There’s not much else you can do but let women, their doctors and nurses, and their families somehow pick up the pieces in peace.

Sex ed won’t make this go away. Contraception won’t make this go away. Looking after babies won’t make this go away. And making people travel halfway across a country away from support networks and stay in hotels while life-threateningly ill, and then have to run the gamut of harassers and gun-wielders? This. is. not. OK.

The only way this will ever get fixed is for misogynistic fetus-fetishist forced-birthers and the people who whip up their sentiment to get a fucking clue, or pull their heads (and guns, and websites, and TV shows, and politicians, and hate speech) in. But they don’t want to know the truth. They want to lie, they want to believe lies, and they want you to believe lies.


[x posted.

Note: This is not a debate thread. I may close comments on it when I’m going to be away from keyboard. If so, come back later and try again.

Categories: gender & feminism, health, medicine, violence

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

7 replies

  1. Late-term abortion is a total Aunt Sally. As far as I know is it only legal (in those places where it is permitted) WHEN A RESULT OF MEDICAL NECESSITY.
    The arrogance of lifers setting themselves up as a superior arbiter of medical necessity than a patient’s own surgeon is staggering. Or perhaps they’re finally willing to admit that they’re trying to use access to a medical procedure as a tool of moral management.

  2. I think one of the really awful things this has brought to light, actually, is that there are so very few doctors willing to perform these incredibly necessary procedures – that the effect of these extreme pro-life ‘protest’ measures has been to make so many doctors decide not to perform them, whether because they agree that they’re wrong, or because doctors are too afraid to, or because they don’t want to have to deal with that level of violence and aggression every day. And that, I think, draws attention to the way that pro-life movements can affect *doctor’s* choices, which in turn has detrimental effects on women’s lives and health care.

  3. *round of applause*
    A question for anyone who has the Knowledge (but please don’t worry if you have to go googling, I can do that myself when I get the time 🙂 ) – anyone happen to know how accessible late term abortions are in Australia? And whether the doctors who perform them face the same sort of threats as in the US?

  4. Jo Tamar: As far as I know, it’s fairly accessible IF you have a medical indication (life of mother at risk, fetus with major diagnosis), AND you live in a capital city or large regional centre, you’re not in the Catholic hospital system, and you see a doctor who gives you accurate information. Solid information is difficult to get; this is such a taboo area even with relatively “societally-sanctioned” indications.
    addit: clinic protesters occur here, but I’ve not heard of any major systemic violence.

  5. @ Lauredhel:
    I used to occasionally see protesters outside the King George V hospital for Mothers and Babies (part of the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital complex in Sydney) because they were convinced that every single D&C performed there was for an abortion (of course, most of them were in fact treatment after a spontaneous miscarriage).
    This false belief/justification led to some highly inappropriate and offensive beseeching to “please don’t abort your baby” addressed to women attending the hospital for prenatal consultations, which could be shrugged/laughed off by the women who were enjoying their pregnancy and anticipating a happy birth, but which must have been hell on wheels for those post-miscarriage women running the gauntlet while mourning the loss of a much wanted pregnancy.

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