Social Question

Jude's avatar

What are your thoughts on late term abortions (roughly 23 weeks)

Asked by Jude (31971 points ) February 6th, 2012

Personally, I’m 100% pro-choice but that’s over the top.

Twenty-three weeks is a viable pregnancy with a top notch NICU.

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47 Answers

janbb's avatar

I try not to make blanket judgments on any individual cases.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Could you have asked anything but this?:) That ripped my heart out. Our family had a premie nephew a few weeks older than that born October 26 at 1 pound 15 ounces and we’ve been fighting and pulling for him ever since. I might have answered differently before that. He’s home and gaining every day.
I’ll give you a GQ for questions with extra kick.

filmfann's avatar

A friend of mines mother had a heart condition, and could not continue the pregnancy she had. She went in for a proceedure to abort the pregnancy.
It didn’t go as planned.
The baby came out, and lived, hence my friend.

JilltheTooth's avatar

This is the place where I waffle. I want the woman to have absolute say over her own reproductive circumstances, but I also can’t support the abortion of a fetus that is viable extra-utero. It’s a lose-lose situation in my ethical landscape. Even case-by-case I would not want to be the one to make the decision. As the ability to save the preemies advances, the waters get murkier and murkier.

Jude's avatar

@JilltheTooth My thoughts exactly.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@Jude Sorry I didn’t give you a direct answer, but you rattled me pretty good with that. I think it’s got to be left to the mother to decide. Every case is different. I don’t think it’s anything were anyone other than the mother should have the final word.

wundayatta's avatar

Where does the right to life begin? What does “viability” extra-utero actually mean? When can a child forage for itself and survive whether it has someone else to help it or not? What standard do we look at?

You can make a case that until a person can take care of itself at age… what? Three? Four? Five? They really aren’t viable without help from a parent. Or you could say until they can breathe by themselves, they aren’t viable. Or you could say until they have the full complement of genetic material, they aren’t viable. The presumption is that after they have these things, they would be considered viable.

There’s a difference between rights in reality and aspirational rights. I’d love for any collection viable genetic cells to have a right to life, but what’s the reality? The reality is that rights mean nothing unless someone else can guarantee them up until about age four. Until age four or so (I don’t know exactly), a person can’t survive on their own. Once you can do something on your own, it seems to me, then the term “rights” becomes much more meaningful.

Does the right to life matter to those who can’t live on their own? What is liberty to someone who who can not exercise freedom (whatever that means)—perhaps someone who is completely or partially dependent on others? What is the right to pursue happiness to someone who can take no actions? Do they actually have a right even if they are incapable of doing anything about it? Incapable of exercising it?

Can infants not exercise their right to life because they can’t keep themselves fed and sheltered? All they can do is breathe if they have air and eat if someone puts food near them. They don’t have the mobility or problem-solving skills to gather their own food or water. Without a mother or a wet-nurse or other care-taker, they are not viable. What does a right to life mean, there?

In the interests of lively discussion, I’m going to stake out an unconventional position. I’m going to say that infants and others that are incapable of caring for themselves do not have a “right” to life. They live at the suffrage of others who volunteer to care for them. But it is not in society’s interest to guarantee such a right until people can take care of themselves. Until then, the life of the infant or person in a coma or whatever other condition that keeps someone from caring for themselves “belongs” to those who care for them.

tedd's avatar

Honestly, I think it should always be up to the mother…. and I think that this question is way above my pay grade (and that of any human being). I also thank god that I have never been in such a situation as to be faced with this question, and pray I never will be.

tinyfaery's avatar

Abortion on demand. Women are not incubators. It’s not for me to judge others.

Leanne1986's avatar

What @janbb said. I’m not a fan of late term abortions if it is not a case of extreme illness in either mother or child but it is not my place to judge if I don’t know the whole story. I can’t imagine anyone would choose to have an abortion that late in the day unless they felt incredibly desperate.

Aster's avatar

Babies that age CRY and have fingernails. To me, it’s murder. They can live full lives at that age and a “doctor” kills them for money.
And no; I don’t want to argue about it.

YoBob's avatar

Firstly, I would like to state that I am quite pro choice. However, there is a point where abortion crosses the line of infanticide. I am not claiming to know when that point is, but IMHO, that point falls somewhere before they can survive as a viable autonomous entity.

As I understand it, the current opinion among the main stream medical community is first trimester.

DrBill's avatar

Just go ahead and have the baby, there are lots of couples who would love a newborn.

Pandora's avatar

Well hard for me to say since I know I would consider abortion murder in the first place. I am neither pro choice or against. I simply don’t believe I have the right to tell someone else what to do with their body. If its a matter that the baby would hardly be viable, (like extreme brain damage) and it is causing mom a lot of stress to know she may carry the baby to term to watch it suffer, than I can’t fault any doctor for helping out. Such a case to me would be euthanasia. No point in watching it suffer before it dies. Thats just cruel.
If its that she doesn’t want the baby than I would definetly say a line has to be drawn somewhere as to when abortion shouldn’t be allowed. There is a good chance that hormones are to play in wanting an abortion that late. I know the later months in my pregnancies I was more irrational. So I wouldn’t trust whether this person is making the best decision. At this point she might as well carry it all the way and give it up for adoption if that is what they want. No need to tear the kid apart because mom is flipping out.

Blackberry's avatar

Of course I would rather it not happen unless it’s neccessary.

keobooks's avatar

It’s almost never done, FYI. And in almost all cases, the parents wanted to have the pregnancy, but it turned out that the fetus had a lethal condition and would be unable to survive after birth. I believe one year there were something like 10 that happened in the US. It’s a VERY rare procedure. And the parents who have the procedure are very upset about it, from what I’ve read.

There is a very narrow set of very sad circumstances that this extremely rare incident ever happens. I think some people dust it off and bring it out to pull the heart strings of pro choice people and get them to change their mind.

http://www.arcc-cdac.ca/postionpapers/22-Late-term-Abortions.PDF

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I would bet that late-term abortions are more likely to happen in places with absolutely atrocious access to a top-notch NICU. I stand with @janbb and firmly on women having the right to choose.

Judi's avatar

I don’t know the answer. There has to be a balance somewhere between the right wing ” no abortion even if it kills both mother and baby and the mother is a 12 year old rape victim,” and terminations a viable life in utero.
I hate when people use abortion as a birth control method too.
Nothing is really black and white. Abortion is a terrible tragedy, but it is also a very personal decision.
I might support the right of a woman to make the decision to have an abortion, but I have heard a few really sad reasons from people I wouldn’t expect.

nikipedia's avatar

I think if you want to have an abortion during this gray area stage, let them take the baby out and see if it makes it. If it does, someone else gets to have a baby; if it doesn’t, well, that’s what an abortion would have done anyway.

YoBob's avatar

Not a bad idea @nikipedia . However, the problem is that you would be likely to have a high percentage of those babies with chronic health problems associated with premature birth, and thus be on the bottom of the pile for adoption, and while they are waiting would be wards of the state.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@YoBob @nikipedia It is not a fun thing to go through. His mother said “that’s it, I’m done having kids. I never want to put a baby through that again”. And it is phenominally expensive. can’t spell but you know what I mean.

janbb's avatar

Agree with @Adirondackwannabe I think a “sink or swim” attitude toward preemies is a a bit naive with all the expense and health issues that they face.

nikipedia's avatar

I think sink or swim is better than just offing it.

janbb's avatar

I think that is a choice that only the parents involved and doctors can make together – not outsiders. Let alone any emotional issues (and there are many) who is going to pay the hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical procedures if the parents and their insurance are not involved?

Besides, as has been pointed out, late-term abortions are very rarely done so this is kind of a red herring as an issue.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@nikipedia I would have agreed with before seeing it. Not now.

bkcunningham's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe, best wishes and love coming to you, your family and your little nephew from me. You never know until you’ve been there. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. I hope he keeps growing and progressing toward perfect health. You can have all of the money, wisdom, love, material things in the world; but without your health…regardless of your age, you have nothing.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@bkcunningham Thanks very much. He’s had a ton of love and good wishes sent his way. It helped a lot.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I will always support the right to choose, full stop.

And, there are lots of circumstances which I really understand and sympathize with: fatal fetal abnormalities, not knowing they were pregnant until later or misjudging how far along they were, having restricted access to abortion (possibly due to locality, being in an abusive relationship, jumping through insurance hoops), not knowing abortion was an option, etc. Some people don’t just want to raise a child, they don’t want to bring one into this world. And forcing them to have it premature raises a lot of practical questions, like, who pays for the medical care, who takes the child home (people aren’t dying to adopt any babies, they’re dying to adopt white, healthy babies that didn’t result from rape). So, it’s never a preferable situation, but I get it.

nikipedia's avatar

@Aethelflaed, when you say full stop, does that include after the point when the fetus is definitely viable?

Rarebear's avatar

It is medically risky.

keobooks's avatar

Less than 10% of abortions happen after 13 weeks. Less than 1% happen after 20.

Here is a very typical story of a late term abortion at 29 weeks and in the story, you can see that the parents went through agony and in the end, they treated the abortion like a miscarriage. This wasn’t something they decided on a whim.

bkcunningham's avatar

@keobooks, is your 10 percent based on abortions performed in Canada? I’m curious where you came up with that number. Thanks.

keobooks's avatar

Sorry, I thought I linked it when I wrote it. This is the UK statistics. I can’t find my US one yet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:UK_abortion_by_gestational_age_2004_histogram.svg

This isn’t the same one I had, but it’s got the same info.
http://www.abortionno.org/Resources/fastfacts.html

“At what gestational ages are abortions performed:
52% of all abortions occur before the 9th week of pregnancy, 25% happen between the 9th & 10th week, 12% happen between the 11th and 12th week, 6% happen between the 13th & 15th week, 4% happen between the 16th & 20th week, and 1% of all abortions (16,450/yr.) happen after the 20th week of pregnancy.”

Sunny2's avatar

The agonizing decision to have a late term abortion is usually due to a fetus being badly malformed. It could be a fetus with an incomplete brain or other severe physical problem. Or perhaps continuing the pregnancy threatens the mother’s life. The decision is never easy, but it may be the best thing for all involved. It is not a matter of deciding at a late date that you just don’t want the baby. It’s a tragedy for the parents. I think it would be extremely short sighted if they passed a law to prevent it. Anti-abortionists use it as a propaganda issue, but look at the circumstances in which this occurs. Look at @keobooks‘s statistics
1% of abortions happen after 20 weeks.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

I’ll make my comment and immediately unfollow, since I don’t feel like arguing.

It’s murder, plain and simple. That baby can survive out of the womb. Its heart began beating at just 4 weeks. It’s not a glob of tissue; it’s a baby. I can totally understand making the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy if the mother’s life is in extreme danger, but otherwise? Quit being selfish and protect that precious life.

keobooks's avatar

Too bad you stopped following @WillWorkForChocolate , since many people have posted that in almost all of the late term abortions that happen, the baby CANNOT live outside the womb. That’s kind of the whole point of this.

I am someone who is pro-choice. But I would never have an abortion myself—or at least I thought so until I read some of the reasons why people have late term abortions. If I found out after 20 weeks that I had a fetus with a lethal defect and that baby had no chance of living for more than a few agonizing minutes – then NO I would not want to carry it to term.

Why torture my own body for 15 or so weeks having a pregnancy which I know for a fact will be doomed? The ONLY decent thing about the last trimester of pregnancy is that you know when it’s over, you will get to have your baby at the end. If you know for a fact that you will NOT be taking home a live baby at the end, and you will have to watch a tiny human being with many birth defects slowly die from multiple organ failures or never take a breath because they had no lungs.. what torture would that be??

I don’t understand why so many people are focusing on the number of weeks and totally ignoring the fact that almost all of these fetuses have lethal defects. Some of them may be thriving in the womb because the mother is doing all the breathing, eating and eliminating for them. Almost all of the fetuses being aborted at this critical period are UNABLE to do at least 1 of these functions on their own and will never be able to do them. Many of them will be unable to do all three even if they were brought to full term.

I hope I never ever have to make that choice. I wouldn’t ever wish it on my worst enemy. It’s a horrible idea to think that you could get so excited about a pregnancy and just when you think you’re halfway over you get told that your little future son or daughter’s brain stopped developing at a critical point or that vital organs are missing/nonfunctioning or outside of the fetuses body and can’t be put back in. Or they are missing vital chromosomes that caused a lethal defect.

These parents have two wonderful choices. Carry a baby to term that they know will die hours or days after he is born OR they can have an abortion and save the 15 weeks or whatever of people saying “Wooo! A baby! Aren’t you excited? What are you having? When are you due?” And 15 weeks of feeling kicks and wriggles..

I can’t think of anything more torturous.


I did write something about one of my nephews, but I’ll save it for later. It made for too much of a TLDR.

YARNLADY's avatar

I’m glad I never had to make the choice, and I feel sorry for anyone who does have to, but I’m no interested in deciding for them.

bkcunningham's avatar

Wow, @filmfann. I just “got” your answer. I had read it before and didn’t realize what you were saying. I just reread the thread in an attempt to really understand other people’s links and thoughts. The second response has stopped me in my tracks. Wow. If you don’t mind answering, how old is your friend? How far along was his mom when she attempted to abort him/her? I wonder how the mother feels now (if she’s still living)?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@bkcunningham That is pretty insane. Actually started the process. My other healthy happy nephew is turning one year old this month. His mother had the appointment scheduled to abort him but she couldn’t go through with it.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@nikipedia Well, we tend to call the point at which a fetus is definitely, absolutely viable “birth”. But, I get what you’re asking, and yes, hence the full stop.

bkcunningham's avatar

What is your definition of birth, @Aethelflaed?

Linda_Owl's avatar

I believe that a woman has a right to make her own decisions about her body & it has worried me that so many of the fundamentalist Republicans are trying to outlaw abortion & contraception. I do not have a problem with abortions within the first 10 to 12 wks, but when a woman gets into the 4th & 5th month – to me an abortion should not take place unless the woman’s life is in danger. I know that it is done & my question is, since doctors are supposed to first of all do no harm – how would a doctor justify in their own mind such an act (if not to save the woman’s life)? As @YARNLADY said, I am very glad that I never had to make such a decision & I do not wish to make decisions for any woman who may be pregnant – but I would still like an answer to my question about the ethics of a doctor who might perform late term abortions.

Sunny2's avatar

@Linda_Owl A doctor who does a very late term abortion is probably doing what is best for the mother. There are conditions of the fetus that cannot be determined until very late in the pregnancy, such as the absence of a brain or similarly bizarre situation. The baby has no chance to survive. If the mother’s health is considered at all, it may be best to remove the fetus before it is born dead. It is a procedure that no physician would take lightly. It’s a tragedy, but perhaps necessary.

filmfann's avatar

@bkcunningham Her mom was 6 months along, as I understand it. She survived, and was the contributer who showed me this site (she has since left). Her mom, who had the heart condition, died 7 years later.

bkcunningham's avatar

That is some story, @filmfann. It seems both amazing and heartbreaking to me at the same time. I honestly can’t imagine what it must have been like for your friend’s mother. What she went through emotionally having a premature baby, her illness and then having to leave her seven years later is incomprehensible to me. We never know what life is going to bring or what decisions we are going to have to make, do we? I hope your friend has had a good life.

filmfann's avatar

@bkcunningham You mean other than dating me?

bkcunningham's avatar

I hope things have improved in her life, @filmfann. jk ( ;

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