On November 19, people in the city of Albuquerque will vote on whether to ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. The very fact that a fundamental right of women – the right to abortion at whatever point in her pregnancy and for whatever reason she decides – can be put up for a vote is entirely illegitimate and reveals something profoundly wrong with the system that rules over us. It is yet another indication as to why the courts and the official political process in this country cannot be relied upon to protect the rights of women, or of any other oppressed group. This is why StopPatriarchy.org is traveling down to Albuquerque and calling on others nationwide to support in joining with people locally to defeat this proposed ban. The following are five things that everyone should know about the proposed ban on abortions after 20 weeks in Albuquerque:
- This proposed ban is a flashpoint in the national war on women. Ever since Dr. George Tiller was assassinated four years ago by an anti-abortion fanatic, there are only four doctors left in the country who openly provide third trimester abortions. Two (half!) of these doctors practice in Albuquerque. This 20 week ban was designed by national anti-abortion forces precisely in order to close down access for all women to this right.
- While late-term abortions are extremely rare (90% of all abortions happen in the first trimester), they will always be necessary. Some women discover health risks to themselves or the fetus 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% 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.
- The overwhelming scientific consensus is that fetuses do not even begin to develop the brain connections necessary to feel pain at 20 weeks. But even after that point, fetuses do not experience pain the way people do. Pain—in any meaningful sense of the word—is not simply a reflexive nervous reaction. Pain involves sensory, cognitive, and emotional dimensions that are only associated with a conscious, living person, not a fetus. You want to talk about real pain? A woman denied the right to abortion for any reason, who is forced to bring a pregnancy to term and bear a child against her will, endures intolerable pain—physical, psychological, emotional, and is forced into a form of slavery.
- This ban is not really about late-term abortions, it is part of a strategy to end all abortions for all women in allcircumstances. If this ban is passed, the anti-abortion forces will not be satisfied. Instead, they will be emboldened to push for even more drastic restrictions. Anyone who thinks, “I am pro-choice, but I am against late-term abortions,” is deluding themselves. Either we stand up against every attack on women’s right to abortion and build a movement to defeat the entire war on women, or we allow women to be slammed back to the dark ages and back-alleys. Either we treat women as full human beings, or we reduce women to the status of incubators. There is no middle ground.
I stand with those who are fighting this ban and urge everyone nationwide to recognize our shared responsibility to stand up around this now. We must not allow the religious right to claim any moral high ground on this issue, because fetuses are NOT babies, abortion is NOT murder, and women are NOT incubators. This is no time to ‘lay low’, Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!