Third Trimester (aka. really controversial) Abortions

Bitch Ph.D.’s (another excellent Shakesville contributor) blog has some statistics about Third Trimester Abortions in the USA- basically that they’re extremely rare.

Interestingly, the Abortion debate in the USA has taken a turn to mimic our own scuffle recently, with Barack Obama claiming he doesn’t think mental distress is a valid reason to allow abortions in the third trimester.

This comment is generally a sexist anti-abortion dogwhistle- it implies that because apparently because it can be faked, real, genuine mental illness doesn’t exist among women wanting third trimester abortions, especially in stressful events like an unwanted pregnancy. While perhaps that is justification to actually, I don’t know, look for symptoms of mental illness first, I don’t think it’s justification for ruling out mental health as a reason for a third-trimester abortion. We don’t have the right to force the mother to accept the mental health consequences of carrying the baby to term, or giving it up for adoption.

She also links to a pro-life doctor citing some really persuasive reasons for allowing third trimester abortions, including explaining that “pediatric reasons” don’t always just apply to the fetus. Worth checking out.

2 Responses

  1. “We don’t have the right to force the mother to accept the mental health consequences of carrying the baby to term, or giving it up for adoption.” – but you are advocating the retention of the right to kill the unborn child? Interesting.

    Back to the main issue above though, I wonder if it is possible to conclusively ‘look for symptoms of mental illness first’…? I am not an expert in this area but it would at least solve the matter above. If the law was that abortions were allowed in the case of genuine mental illness, then this should be established first and defined effectively by the law before the practice proceeds, not the other way around. So in this case, I agree with Obama, and to say this is “sexist” indicates you’re probably clutching at straws. You know only too well that the pro-lifers main concern is the protection of life, not to be unduly sexist. If you don’t understand your rival, you will struggle to make headway.

  2. Sean- I honestly don’t know if a embryo/zygote/fetus qualifies as having a right to live. Even though I’m pro-animal rights, I still don’t think every animal has a right not to be killed, either. Hell, I’m not even sure if a newborn has that right- but a line has to be drawn somewhere, and newborns, whether they are sentient or not, are definitely part of our society. They have an age, a name, they’re documented, they have to be cared for directly rather than passively, and they have some ability of communication. (even if it’s a binary screaming/not screaming ability 😉 )

    Inside the womb, none of these things are meaningful. I certainly respect people who are willing to treat a zygote as having a right to live that shouldn’t be thrown away idly, and I agree. But that’s not the same as saying that I know every single circumstance in which said life cannot be thrown away, and feel that people with opinions like mine are fit to judge ahead of mothers who have been properly informed.

    I don’t advocate killing. In fact, I want people to choose life whenever possible, and I want them to choose the best life possible, and I want society as a whole to help them do that. But, I still want them to choose, because I don’t think I’m smart enough or likely enough to be right that I have the moral right to take that choice away from them. It’s too complicated a matter for that.

    And yes, to be accepted as a diagnosable condition, mental illnesses need to have reliable symptoms. I’m not talking “restless leg syndrome” here, I am talking post-traumatic disorders. Taking away these types of protections can expose people to the types of mental disorders that damage their personalities to a point that’s pretty damn close to dying in the first place. People ought to have a right to choose whether they feel they can proceed with the pregnancy.

    As for sexism: Sean, I’ve explained this before- sexism is not a matter of intent. You can be sexist without meaning to discriminate against either women or men. When we as men take away women’s choices in a matter in which we are only marginally effected, then we are being sexist. We are saying they do not have the right to judge for themselves. We are treating them like less than human beings, simply because they conceived a child with a little help. And that’s not okay.

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