Later-Term Abortions, Caused by Anti-Abortion Policy & Morality (was Re: Gentrification)

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at
Sat Aug 21 11:00:26 PDT 1999

>From Max to Doug:
>I'm not much concerned about 11 week old fetuses. I've said a bunch
>of times it's approximately weeks T-4 and forward to birth that are
>most troublesome, in thinking about abortion.

[I changed the subject line because discussion has nothing to do with gentrification.]

Look, Max, you don't really think that women who have later-term abortions do so because they consciously prefer later-term abortions to earlier ones. It is in the *rational interest of women* (in view of women's health, how much it costs to get an abortion, whether women can find a conveniently located abortion clinic, etc.) to have abortions early rather than late. And as a matter of fact, the majority of abortions occur early in pregnancy.

Now, think what circumstances would lead women to have later-term abortions. One reason is health (such as the incompatibility of women's need for medical treatment with carrying pregnancy to term). Another is the moral + material circumstances that surround young women, mainly caused by the prevailing morality (both external moralizing and internalized morality) and more importantly by *financial + other obstacles placed in front of women trying to obtain an abortion*. Rosalind Petchesky writes in her _Abortion and Woman's Choice_:

***** Looking again at the data for 1978-79 regarding the gestational period in which abortions occur,...[a]s we might expect, the 5 to 8 percent of abortions in those years that occurred after the first trimester tended to be among teenagers. Delayed abortions among teenagers are mainly the result not of personal attitudes so much as _public policies that (1) create legal and administrative obstacles for teenagers who seek abortions, (2) restrict Medicaid funding for abortion, and (3) support a dominant culture and "morality" that punish the sexuality of unmarried young women_. In a different sexual culture with unrestricted availability of legal, publicly funded abortion services, nearly all abortions (except in a small number of health-related cases) would occur early in a pregnancy. This would be desirable from the standpoint of women's health and well-being as well as sensibility to the fetus and its development. (emphasis mine, 352) *****

In other words, all these moral puzzlements and compromises with the abortion-ambivalent (such as agreeing to the imposition of parental notification) to which Max is given are the very causes for many a later-term abortion that worries Max so much.


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