I am aware that not all people who have uteruses are women-identifying, and therefore not all people who have abortions are women. However, for the sake of keeping facts clear and scientifically specific, I will from here forward refer to people getting abortions as women.

My opinion.

Personally, I am very strongly pro-choice. I believe abortions should be easy and cheap to acquire. But, that isn't what this is about. I think it goes without saying that many facts about abortion are misinterpreted and incorrect. So, below I have provided you with extensive lists and explanations of the true facts about abortion. I inform you of my opinion solely to preserve journalistic integrity so that you are aware of any possible unconscious biases I might have accidentally allowed to infiltrate my writing. But know that I have done my absolute best to avoid this. Whatever your opinion is, please, at the very least, let it be based on facts.

The past.

In case you need a refresher, these are the three most famous and most influential abortion-related events in recent American history.

  • Colorado becomes the first state to allow abortion (1967)
    • John Love, Colorado's governor, allows abortion in case of permanent disability (physical or mental) of the fetus or pregnant woman, or in cases of rape or incest.
    • California, Oregon, and North Carolina follow with similar laws in the same year.
  • Roe v. Wade (1973)
    • Jane Roe, a fake name used to hide the woman's identity, took federal action against Henry Wade, who was the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, in which Roe lived.
    • A Supreme Court case that ruled (7-2) that "unduly restrictive state regulation" is unconstitutional. It was claimed to counter a woman's right to privacy and therefore violate the 14th Amendment.
    • However, the Supreme Court did assert that a state could assert its own interest in a woman's body at about the end of the first trimester of pregnancy. Meaning that after the third month of pregnancy, the state could begin to limit abortion.
  • President Clinton reverses anti-abortion legislation through 5 executive orders (1993)
    • 1. Reversed bans on federal employees referring their patients to abortion
    • 2. Repealed 'Mexico City Policy', which had limited USA funding of international organizations that supported abortion
    • 3. Reversed bans on federal funding for tissue transplants using the tissue of aborted fetuses
    • 4. Forced military hospitals to offer abortion services
    • 5. Made FDA reconsider the ban on importing the abortion pill

The laws.

The laws surrounding abortion change frequently, and vary drastically between states. They're complicated. But, here are the laws as of January 1, 2019.

  • Abortion at some level is legal in all states due to 'Roe v. Wade.'
  • Restrictions on the gestational period
    • States where abortion is illegal after some point LMP (LMP refers to the time since a woman's first day of her last menstrual period, which would likely be prior to conception, making these laws the most restrictive)
      • 20 weeks LMP: Mississippi, North Carolina
      • 22 weeks LMP: Kansas, West Virginia
      • 24 weeks LMP: Florida, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia
    • States where abortion is illegal after some point post-fertilization (post-fertilization refers to the time since conception)
      • 20 weeks PF: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin
      • 24 weeks PF: Nevada, New York
    • States where abortion is illegal after some point post-implantation (post-implantation refers to the time since the fertilized ovum became attached to the uterine wall, which usually occurs around one week following conception, making these laws the least restrictive)
      • 24 weeks PI: Massachusetts
    • States where abortion is illegal after the fetus is considered viable (viability refers to the fetus's ability to survive outside of the womb, with or without artificial aid). There is no designated age of viability, although most physicians consider a fetus viable after the end of the sixth month of pregnancy when the fetus would have greater than a 90% chance of survival. However, some physicians consider as few as 22 weeks (the beginning of the 6th month, and the final trimester) to be a viable fetus, even though there is less than a 10% of rectouterine survival. Clearly, this is the most 'up for interpretation' law and varies based on opinion.
      • Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Wyoming
  • When states allow exceptions to their rules
    • States that allow for an exception when the mother's life is at risk: Idaho, Michigan, Rhode Island
    • States that allow for an exception when the mother's life or physical health is at risk: North Dakota, South Dakota
      • Only if the physical risk to the mother would result in "substantial and irreversible impairment" of an important function: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia
      • And/or there is a projected lethal fetal abnormality Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina, West Virginia
      • And/or in the case of rape or incest: Arkansas
    • States that allow for an exception when the mother's life, mental health, or physical health is at risk: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Virginia, Washington, Wyoming
      • Only if the mental or physical risk to the mother would result in "substantial and irreversible impairment" of an important function: Arizona, Montana, Pennsylvania, Utah, Wisconsin
      • And/or there is a projected lethal fetal abnormality: Delaware, Utah
        • This abnormality is not required to be lethal: Maryland
      • And/or in the case of rape or incest: Utah

The price.

Average out-of-pocket rates (without insurance in America).

  • An Early Medication Abortion, or Mifeprex pill, averagely costs about $535.
  • A Manual Vacuum Aspiration, also known as a "suction abortion," averagely costs $508.
  • A Dilation and Evacuation abortion, or surgical abortion, can cost anywhere between $500 and $3000.
  • A third-trimester abortion is the most expensive and costs between $8000 and $1500, but it can sometimes be even more pricey.

Federally funded abortions are banned in all states. Most states, however, will offer a state-funded abortion in the case of life endangerment to the mother, rape, or incest.

  • States that do not offer a state-funded abortion even in the case of life endangerment to the mother, rape, or incest: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington
  • States that only provide state-funded abortion in the case of life endangerment to the mother, not in the case of rape or incest: South Dakota
  • States that also provide state-funded abortion in the case of fetal impairment: Iowa, Mississippi

Since abortion is legal, there aren't really clear and strict punishments for performing/having one outside of the law in most states. Instead, we have to take a look at some states' pasts in order to guess what sort of punishments they may take on in the future.

  • All states have arrested and prosecuted pregnant women "in the defense" of their fetuses, except for Delaware, Vermont
  • States that have recently extended some criminal law to include crimes against "unborn children": Alabama, South Carolina, Tennessee
    • Between 1973 and 2016, these three states have arrested a combined nearly 900 women for attempting to, or succeeding at, harm their fetus (either through abortion or other offenses, such as drug usage while pregnant.
  • Many states would likely prosecute doctors for performing illegal abortions, however, most illegal abortions are performed by the pregnant woman through the use of medication, or by unidentified/unlicensed people.

The fetus.

When can a fetus feel pain? The short answer: Around 30 weeks The long answer: There are four steps that must occur for the pain to be felt.

  • 1. Receptors in the skin must develop. This happens between 7.5 and 15 weeks gestation.
  • 2. The nerves that translate the receptor's feelings must develop. This happens at around 19 weeks.
  • 3. Neurons need to reach from the spinal cord to the area of the brain where the pain is perceived. This happens at around 23 or 24 weeks.
  • 4. Lastly, each piece of this three-part system must actually function. At about 30 weeks, all pain systems are developed and functional.

Many people believe that fetuses can feel pain at 20 weeks gestation. This is false.

  • Myth: Fetuses have a withdrawal reflex before the third trimester, which means that if touched, the fetus will move away from the touch. Therefore, this means that the nerve endings of the fetus are fully developed.
  • Fact: Yes, fetuses do have a working withdrawal reflex at 20 weeks. However, doctors say that this doesn't mean that they can feel pain. Medically, a reflex is simply just a nerve impulse traveling to the spinal cord, and then from the spinal cord to the corresponding muscle, causing movement. The impulse never reaches the brain, which is required for pain receptors to go off. As stated above, nerve receptors are developed at 19 weeks. Therefore, it is entirely possible for fetuses to respond to touch, but they will not feel any pain since a touch only needs to go from the skin to the spinal cord to create a reflex response.

The risk.

Many worries about the impact abortion can have on a woman. So let's take a good look at the wrong information floating around, and identify the truth about abortion patients.

  • Myth: Abortion is dangerous for a woman.
  • Fact: When abortion is done correctly, and under the care of a professional, only 0.25% of women experience any serious adverse effects. That means that 99.75% of the time, women who get abortions are completely healthy afterward. This makes abortion less risky than a colonoscopy, which has a 0.35% chance of resulting in serious adverse effects.
  • Myth: Women will regret their decision, and wish they had carried the fetus to term.
  • Fact: It is proven that around 95% of women who get an abortion recognize it was the right thing to do. This doesn't mean that they don't feel guilty, or that they are not saddened by their decision, but that they still believe it was ultimately the best choice.
  • Myth: If abortion is made to be illegal, women will stop having them and therefore be safer.
  • Fact: Before abortion was legalized in the United States, about 5,000 women died each year from receiving abortions without the care of medical professionals. Now, as we saw above, it is extremely rare to have serious complications from an abortion, let alone die from one.

The demographics.

It is commonly thought that those who get abortions are young, naive women. Many people believe that these women are consistently using abortion as an 'out' when they have an unplanned pregnancy. Thus, they are irresponsible and choosing to make bad decisions.

  • Myth: Women who get abortions are teens who accidentally got pregnant and don't want to/aren't capable of raising a child.
  • Fact: 73% of women who have abortions have already carried a child to term and given birth. Over half of the women who have an abortion have had at least one abortion before. Additionally, about 59% of women who get abortions are aged 20 to 29.
  • Myth: Women who have abortions are impulsively deciding on abortion too late, possibly harming the fetus.
  • Fact: Just over 91% of abortions occur within the first 8 weeks of gestation. This shows that women know what they want to happen and are responsible and efficient and getting the process completed. In these cases there is no possible way the fetus could be feeling any pain as 8 weeks is clearly nowhere near the 30-week limit.
  • Myth: Abortion is a cover-up operation for eugenics.
  • Fact: Many people believe this because many women who get abortions are black. In fact, black women get abortions at a rate of about two times their population. Black women make up nearly 36% of those who get abortions, yet America's population is only 18% black. On the contrary, about 37% of those who get abortions are white, but almost 76% of America's population is white. So let's look at the other facts. The poverty rate for black Americans is about 21%, measured against the approximately 9% white poverty rate. Black Americans have health care access at a rate of about 2% less than the American average, making it harder for them to carry a child to term, and generally make around $19,200 less per year than the average American, also making pregnancy a financial burden. This is the true reason more colored women have abortions than white women.

The future.

Now that you have an opinion, keep on eye on these three things that could be in the process of changing the laws and regulations surrounding abortion in the near future.

  • The Supreme Court
    • It looks more and more likely that at least while this current, conservative-dominated supreme court holds, that abortion access will be limited and could acquire stricter laws.
    • Since Supreme Court justices don't generally expose biased views to the public, we can't truly know where they all stand. But, based on past decisions, this is the likely outcome if a vote on abortion takes place anytime soon.
      • Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.: anti-choice (strong leaning)
      • Justice Anthony M. Kennedy: anti-choice (weak leaning)
      • Justice Clarence Thomas: anti-choice (weak leaning)
      • Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: pro-choice (strong leaning)
      • Justice Stephen G. Breyer: pro-choice (strong leaning)
      • Justice Samuel A. Alito: anti-choice (strong leaning)
      • Justice Sonia M. Sotomayor: pro-choice (strong leaning)
      • Justice Elena Kagan: pro-choice (weak leaning)
      • Justice Neil M. Gorsuch: anti-choice (strong leaning)
  • Pro-choice opinions are surprisingly popular
    • Many people think that most Americans are against abortions, considering that many Americans are quite religious. However, that isn't the case, even among most of the religious American population (as of 2018).
      • Percent of Catholics that believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 51%
      • Percent of Evangelicals that believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 34%
      • Percent of mainline Protestants that believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 67%
  • The next generation is largely pro-choice
    • As the baby-boomers leave office and millennials enter, we can expect to see a shift to a pro-choice Congress. (The following stats are from a study where voters were only given the option to choose either Democrat or Republican).
      • Percent of millennials that identify as Democrats: 59%
      • Percent of millennials that identify as Republicans: 32%
    • As a general statistic, this shows that it is likely that the millennial population is more pro-choice than those currently in Congress. This is because, as seen below, Democrats are much more likely to believe in abortion access.
      • Percent of Democrats that believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 76%
      • Percent of Republicans that believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases: 44%

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