Abortion After 20 Weeks Should NOT Be Banned

January 12, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper | revcom.us


On the first day of the new session of Congress, Republicans introduced a measure to ban abortions after 20 weeks. Branded as the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” this move is vicious in its own right, and part of a whole war on women that has, as a leading edge, forcing women to bear children against their will in all circumstances.

The “pain capable” branding is utterly unscientific. A fetus is not a human being and doesn’t experience pain, but women are human beings and the pain of being forced to bear a child against one’s will is horrific. (See “A Fetus Cannot Feel Pain, but a Woman Denied the Right to Abortion Suffers Intolerable Pain.”)

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According to a 2013 study by the Guttmacher Institute (which does research and education to promote reproductive health and rights): “Most women seeking later abortion fit at least one of five profiles: They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and nulliparous [a woman who has never borne a child.]”

And the study concludes: “Bans on abortion after 20 weeks will disproportionately affect young women and women with limited financial resources.”

Late-term abortions are very rare (90 percent of all abortions happen in the first three months of pregnancy), but the right to an abortion at any point is essential. Some women discover health risks to themselves or to the fetus that can only be detected late in pregnancy. Some—owing to the numerous restrictions on abortion—simply could not pull together the resources earlier in their pregnancies. Still others, especially very young women and girls who have little or no education about their bodies and reproduction, don’t even realize they are pregnant until very far along. All women who seek abortions at whatever point in their pregnancies and for whatever reason must have the right to do so. If abortion was more widely available (97 percent of rural counties have no abortion provider), if there were not so many restrictions, if there was real scientific sex education and widespread access to birth control, and if there were no stigma on abortion, late-term abortions would be even more rare (although still necessary). The very “pro-life” movement that is behind the 20-week ban is also opposed to all these things, which could reduce (though not eliminate) the need for late-term abortions.

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Currently, 12 states have banned abortions after 20 weeks. Only one of the state laws has an exception for cases of rape or incest. Only three have very limited exceptions for cases where the fetus is detected to be severely abnormal.

The moves to pass a nationwide ban on abortions after 20 weeks are a serious escalation of the war on women, and require a response in the streets. Relying on an Obama veto to put a brake on, let alone reverse, the ferocious attacks on the right to abortion is a dangerous illusion and contributes to a dangerous dynamic. That dynamic is identified sharply in the statement “Abortion On Demand and Without Apology! For Every Woman in Every State—The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!“:

For too long, millions have watched in alarm as yesterday’s outrageous and unthinkable attack has become today’s “compromise position” and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. This dynamic must be broken. The political leaders of the Democratic Party cannot be relied on to do this. While posing as the last bastion of defense against these attacks, these “leaders” have in fact seriously undermined reproductive rights by seeking “common ground” with fascists and religious fanatics, by ceding the moral high ground, by severing abortion from women’s emancipation and by refusing to stand up when abortion providers are murdered.

The move in Congress to ban abortions at 20 weeks is one more important reason to Confront the Anti-Abortion, Woman-Hating Fascists and build and be part of actions around the country in January called by Stop Patriarchy! to oppose the war on women.

Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.

Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!

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