I don’t think anybody ever wants to have a late-term abortion, which is abortion before viability but after some specified number of weeks (in Texas, that number is currently 20).
People on the internet and on the radio and so on who have late term abortions are generally in one kind of situation.
They desperately wanted the baby. Or maybe the baby was a late-life surprise, but they came to want it.
Sometime after 20 weeks they found that the fetus had no brain. Or its organs were outside of its body. Or it had some other horrible birth defect which would cause it to be in horrible pain for its short existence should it be born.*
Recently the news has been making a big deal about some survey that was done asking people their thoughts on late-term abortion. “Women disagree with Wendy Davis,” the headlines shout.
1. As with any abortion, some of those surveyed (and indeed, many people) strongly believe that *they* would never have an abortion, or that kind of abortion, but at the same time, they believe they should not enforce their beliefs on others. Some people with that set of beliefs call themselves pro-life, not realizing that means they are actually pro-choice. (See, for example, Bristol Palin. Yes, a subset of people really does believe that there are large numbers of pro-abortion people out there. They’re living in a scary world.) It is difficult to separate the question of, “Would you do X” from “Should everyone be prevented from doing X”, and in these surveys people sometimes answer one question meaning the other, especially when the question is vague, “Do you support a woman doing X?”
2. People give very different answers to the question, “Should late-term abortions be illegal?” and “Stacy and Harry were so excited to finally have a new baby on the way. Unfortunately, at 21 weeks they found out that the child they’d hoped and dreamed of had a birth defect in which it was missing several internal organs and that would cause the baby to die a few hours to a few days after birth. The baby would be in excruciating pain during that time. After painful reflection and discussion, Stacy and Harry decide that the humane thing to do would be to end the pregnancy. Should Stacy be allowed to have an abortion?”
People actually give different answers to all abortion questions, often saying no abortions to the general question but yes to any specific example.
3. Pro-life people often make exceptions in real life when the question is if they should get an abortion or if their daughter should get an abortion. As always, the wealthy will be able to hop on a plane to get a legal abortion elsewhere, or pay to get a safe hospital abortion using whatever quasi-legal avenue is available to them. As for everyone else, read The Search for an Abortionist by Nancy Howell Lee.
States are rapidly taking away women’s right to choose. They’re doing it in places where people are least able to get around the laws to find safe abortions, suggesting a return of dangerous back-alley abortions. In the 1970s, I am told that even some pro-life people were pro-legal abortion because they knew someone who had died at the hands of an illegal abortionist, and they thought a safe and legal abortion was the lesser evil. Women will always have abortions, my mother’s generation says, the only question is if they are safe and legal or unsafe and illegal.
I don’t know what to do about all of this. My mother says there will eventually be a backlash and a revolt, but I don’t know. It seems to me that there’s money fueling the war on women at the state level, but nobody with money fighting in the opposite direction.
What can be done? What are you doing?
*Some late term abortions are also abortions that should have been early-term but because of red tape and credit constraints, time passed before the abortion could happen. The solution to that problem is to stop making it difficult for women to get early abortions!
Update: Planned Parenthood donation page.