LATE TERM ABORTION IN THE UNITED STATES
The renowned Guttmacher Institute estimates that Late Term Abortions in the United States are performed in only 0.8% of those further than 24 weeks gestation. There is no strict definition for late term abortion, but most professional medical organizations agree that termination of pregnancy beyond 21 weeks is defined as late term abortion. It is estimated that only 1,032 abortion procedures are performed yearly in the U.S. for patients greater than 24 weeks.
In May, 2009, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder murdered the highly respected and well known physician Dr. George Tiller because he performed late term abortions. Roeder gunned down Dr. Tiller in the church where he served as an usher where he and his family regularly attended services for many years. There have been several assassinations of physicians (7 or more) who performed abortions since the early 1990's beginning with the first which occurred in Pensacola, Florida. The people who carry out these acts think they are protecting the innocent victim - which they believe is the fetus. They use terminology such as the unborn, baby, or child, murder, baby or child killers to give the fetus personhood. They believe that if a fetus has a pulse in the fetal cord, a heartbeat, breathing or movement, it is a separate entity with individual rights and has reached personhood.
The Constitution of the United States, the United States Supreme Court, and the Bible all state that until an individual is born and takes its first breath, they are not a person. Ethical, moral, philosophical and religious beliefs still differ regarding when life begins. Due to the fact there are so many answers to this question the answer is obviously not definitive. Yet there are many experts and those with their strong opinions and interpretations of what they use to make their definitive points, can tell us specifically what their beliefs are. When a fetus threatens a woman’s life or health, if there is a genetic fetal defect, significant fetal abnormality rape or incest, there should be no argument that a woman should be able to choose to protect and save her life by obtaining a legal late term abortion in the United States.
Despite the fact that a patient, her personal physician, and an abortion provider may all agree that a termination would be in the best interest of a mother's health, there is much controversy from organizations, politicians, certain religious sectors, legislators, and other governmental entities. They do not want or believe that women should have the right to make decisions about a pregnancy that ultimately could be detrimental to her health. It is understood that the 9th amendment of the United States Constitution allows us to exercise this freedom. Laws regarding late term abortion restrict women from exercising their right to terminate their pregnancies have escalated at a record pace over the past two years. This leaves women with only a handful of abortion providers in the U.S. to turn to in one of the most difficult times in their lives.
One of the most important freedoms we have is the freedom to make decisions about how our bodies are treated. Men and women make the decision to poison their bodies with tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs, and even legal drugs such as chemotherapy medications to possibly extend their life a few weeks or months (though side effects kill people on a daily basis) but there is no contention from anyone regarding the use of these toxic drugs which have a high probability of harm. Yet when it comes to a woman being able to save her life due to medical complications or fetal abnormalities or deformities that are incompatible with life, other people and the government want to make decisions that prevent a woman from exercising her right.
Abortions performed up to 15 to 16 weeks can be performed surgically using the suction dilation and curettage procedure. Beyond 16 weeks, the procedure can be performed essentially in one of two ways: 1) dilation and evacuation, and 2) labor-induction abortion which involves the use of Misoprostol (Cytotec), RU486 (Mifepristone, Misoprostol, Mifeprex) and or Oxytocin. After 21 weeks of pregnancy a fetal intra-cardiac, intra-amniotic, or intrafetal (buttocks, extremity or intra-cranial) injection is performed using either procedure mentioned above to prevent the possibility of a live birth.
For a Dilation and Evacuation (D&E) procedure, the physician uses osmotic dilators (Laminaria, Dilapan, Lamicel) and Cytotec (Misoprostol) which help to soften and open the cervix, followed by extraction of the fetus using special surgical instruments. The cervix needs to be adequately dilated (opened) to prevent the surgical instruments or fetal body parts from damaging the uterus, cervix, bladder, or bowel of the mother. The procedure can be technically challenging unless the physician has the experience to perform the procedure for late term pregnancies. Physicians who have little to no experience, or due to the political climate in which they work, send patients who are further in pregnancy to the few physicians who have the necessary knowledge and expertise to perform these advanced procedures.
When labor is induced by our Late Term Abortion Doctors in the United States, the delivery usually takes place within 12 to 24 hours. The induction process is performed in an outpatient setting and has been found to be extremely safe and effective. Even though physicians are able to induce labor for their patients, hospitals that maintain anti-abortion beliefs will just not allow an abortion to be performed. More hospitals are being bought out by anti-abortion religious affiliations and often the first thing they wish to accomplish is to ban birth control and abortion.
Different states vary in their definition of abortion and how far a pregnancy can be before they will not allow the abortion to occur; whether or not the abortion is performed in a hospital or outside the hospital; all done in the name of safety and welfare for patients when in reality they are all steps intended to prevent abortion. When a patient cannot find a hospital that will allow a late term abortion to be performed, or is unable to find a physician who will perform the abortion in a hospital, or a medical staff in the hospital willing to assist a physician because they can refuse to participate in an abortion, are all obstacles women have to face when they need to have a therapeutic abortion. Much less the high probability of coming up with some reason for the State or Federal Government to attempt to prosecute a physician with multiple unfounded legal allegations. Late term abortion clinics in the United States will always be necessary and must remain legal.