The arguments against “late-term abortion” are based on mistrust of women

The anti-abortion movement is revving up.
The anti-abortion movement is revving up.
Image: AP Photo/Juliet Williams
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US conservatives are once again railing against allowing women to have abortions later in their pregnancies.

“Life is under attack,” reads the headline of a Thursday (Jan. 31) piece by vice president Mike Pence in the conservative publication National Review. His once “very pro-choice” boss, now pro-life Donald Trump weighed in with a tweet.

“Late-term abortion” is a vague term that can refer to anything from abortions after the middle of the second trimester to as late as the third. The procedure has been a key target of anti-abortion campaigns, which essentially describe it as the deliberate murder of an otherwise healthy child.

What anti-abortion activists don’t mention is that virtually no woman wants an abortion during the third trimester. It’s painful, traumatizing, and heartbreaking. The statistics are clear: Only 1.4% American women have abortions after the 20th week, and even fewer do so in the third trimester, or once the fetus is viable, which can occur as soon as 24 weeks into the pregnancy.

Abortions that happen after the 20th week are typically a medical necessity, research shows, and in most cases, third-trimester abortions are due to severe health danger for the mother, or the fetus.

There are only a handful of doctors in the US who will perform third-trimester abortions not related to life-threatening risks to the mother. It’s not a procedure that is performed casually, or is readily available.