Yes Wendy Davis, Women Do Understand Late-Term Abortion; Do You?

Opinion   |   William Saunders and Mary Harned   |   Aug 9, 2013   |   11:49AM   |   Washington, DC

On Monday, Texas state Senator Wendy Davis made the now infamous statement that the reason why a majority of women support limits on late-term abortion is that they “don’t really understand the landscape of what’s happening in that arena today.”

Sen. Davis, allow us to share a different interpretation of the poll results.

A 20-week-developed baby looks like—a baby.

It is likely that many Americans support late-term abortion limits because they understand that a 20-week-developed baby is only two or three weeks from being capable of surviving outside of the womb. They are aware that the baby can hear his or her parents speaking, and that his or her vital organs are essentially operational—in fact, the most critical phase of development ended around 10 weeks.

These Americans are probably troubled by the substantial medical evidence that a 20-week-developed baby is capable of experiencing pain. In fact, they may have read testimony from Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell’s murder trial, including eye-witness accounts of babies struggling to survive after being born during late-term abortions.

Abortion can be deadly—for mom.

For other Americans, opposition to the use of late-term abortion undoubtedly derives from concerns about the increased risks to women posed by late-term abortions.

Compared to an early first-trimester abortion, the relative risk increases exponentially as the pregnancy continues. Risks from abortion include, but are not limited to, perforation, scarring, or damage to internal organs, infection, hemorrhage, blood clots, incomplete abortion, placenta previa or preterm birth in subsequent pregnancies, psychological or emotional complications, increased risk of breast cancer, and death.

After the first trimester, the risk of hemorrhage from an abortion, in particular, is greater, and the resultant complications may require a hysterectomy, other reparative surgery, or a blood transfusion.

Late-term abortions are NOT necessary for women’s health.

Though opponents of late-term abortion limits argue that continued pregnancy sometimes poses risks to mothers’ lives or health, necessitating the availability of late-term procedures, it is unlikely most Americans believe them.

Obstetrician and gynecologist Mary L. Davenport writes that “[i]ntentional abortion for maternal health, particularly after viability, is one of the great deceptions used to justify all abortion. . . .With any serious maternal health problem, termination of pregnancy can be accomplished by inducing labor or performing a cesarean section, saving both mother and baby.”

Dr. Davenport notes that according to T. Murphy Goodwin, M.D., a distinguished professor of maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Southern California, “there are only three very rare conditions that result in a maternal mortality greater than 20% in the setting of late pregnancy. Even in these three situations there is room for latitude in waiting for fetal viability. . . .”

America has room for babies with special needs and compassionate options for families with terminally ill children.

Another purported justification for late-term abortion is that it is needed when an unborn baby has an anomaly.

Many Americans unquestionably find the use of late-term abortion when a baby is prenatally diagnosed with a nonfatal birth defect patently offensive. They believe that our society can and should embrace children with disabilities and limitations, and should help their families to cope with challenges that may be posed. There are, also, loving families eager to adopt babies with special needs.

Americans are aware that there are surgical or treatment options for many ill unborn children—in the womb or after birth—to correct problems or improve life expectancy. If abortion is the knee-jerk reaction to certain diagnoses, however, there will be no incentive in the medical community to develop life-affirming options.



Consider what can happen when the medical community is asked to offer life-affirming options—after their baby girl was prenatally diagnosed with a fatal condition, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler and her husband bravely asked doctors to continue a treatment that was unexpectedly helping. The result? Baby Abigail Beutler was born in July—the first baby to survive Potter’s Sequence.

Finally, many Americans believe that late-term abortion is not the answer even when an unborn child is tragically diagnosed with fatal birth defects. Instead, perinatal hospice offers a life-affirming alternative to abortion. Rather than pressuring stunned parents to abort their baby, perinatal hospice offers extensive support and birth planning. A team of specialists helps the family experience the life of their child to the fullest before birth. When the baby is born, his or her family is allowed optimum time with their child, creating precious memories.

In summation, Sen. Davis, there are many reasons why Americans, including the authors of this article, support late-term abortion limits. They “understand the landscape.” They can see that late-term abortions are cruel, dangerous, and unnecessary. It is time for the barbaric practice to end.