LATE TERM ABORTION IN THE UNITED STATES
The renowned Guttmacher Institute estimates that in the United States only .8% of abortions occur greater than 24 weeks. There is no strict definition for late term abortion, but most professional medical organizations agree that termination of pregnancy past 21 weeks is defined as late term abortion. It is estimated that only 1,032 abortion procedures have been performed 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 guuned 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 who perform 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 to give the fetus personhood. They believe that if there is a pulse in the fetal cord, heart beating, breathing or movement, then that birth becomes 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, they are not a person.
Despite the fact that the patient's personal physician, the patient, 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 which individuals hide behind. 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. 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 drugs to possibly extend their life a few weeks to months (though side effects kill people on a daily basis) but there is no contention from anyone regarding the use of these toxic drugs that have a high probability of harm. Yet when it comes to a woman being able to save her life due to medical complications she has 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. Past 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 cytotec and or oxytocin. After 21 weeks of pregnancy an intra-cardiac injection is performed using either procedure mentioned above to prevent the possibility of a live birth.
For a D&E procedire, the physician uses laminaria and cytotec 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. Doctors 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 experience to perform these advanced procedures.
When labor is induced, 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 efficient. Even though physicians are able to induce labor on patients, hospitals that mainatain 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 patient can be pregnant before they will not allow the abortion to occur; whether or not the abortion is performed in a hospital or outside the hospital, which are all done in the name of safety and welfare for patients when in reality they are all steps to prevent abortions from being carried out. When a patient cannot find a hospital that performs a late term abortion, or there is an ethical or moral board that only meets once a month to determine whether or not they are going to allow an abortion to take place in the hospital, or even finding a physician to perform the abortion in the hospital and finding a medical staff in the hospital since they can refuse to participate in an abortion, are all things that 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.