Four Misconceptions About New York’s Revised Abortion Law
Let me break a few things down for you.
On January 22nd, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). Once again, the fine people of social media have lost their damn minds.
This is the point at which I hide from social media to avoid people who are clutching their pearls while reading click bait articles written by the religious right.
This is usually for one main reason. Discussion of abortion rights frequently completely ignores the mother and focuses solely on the fetus. Also, people refuse to apply logic and reasoning to this discussion. This is where it becomes important to me as a woman.
I’m going to break it down by responding to some actual things I have seen people put out into the world.
Misconception #1 — “If we extend how late people can get abortions, the lazy people who didn’t even use birth control are just going to wait longer.”
There are perfectly viable reasons why abortions happen after 24 weeks. There is a whole myriad of things that can go wrong in a pregnancy. To assume that they will all happen early on is just medically ignorant. A fetus develops very slowly and issues that may be present at 16 weeks may not have been detectable at 12.
Additionally, determining viability of a fetus can take rounds of tests, additional time for further development and second opinion. Determining viability is not a fast process.
There is not a pandemic of people running around having abortions late in the game. This law will not create one.
Late term abortion are not plentiful now. Think about it this way, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (aka the CDC), only 1.3% of abortions are performed after 20 weeks. Only 7.6% are performed between 14–20 weeks.
Additionally, the later in the pregnancy, the more costly the procedure. I don’t know a lot of just randomly lazy and irresponsible people looking to triple the cost of a procedure just because they want to. Do you?
Misconception #2 — “This article by (fill in name of alt-right online rag) says that the abortion doesn’t have to be performed by a physician! Women will be going back to back alleys!”
Let me quote the actual bill for you.
“A healthcare practitioner licensed, certified or authorized under Title Eight of the Education Law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion…”
Okay. What does it mean? It means you still have to be a medical professional! There are well trained professionals that are not medical doctors that are able to perform an abortion in the first trimester. These include nurses, physicians assistants and midwives.
After 12 weeks, abortions become more complicated. Someone with advanced medical training may be needed. Once again, you HAVE TO apply logic and reasoning. Let’s put it into this perspective:
A paralegal can help you with the preparation and filing of all kinds of legal documents. If you have to go to court, you want an attorney to represent you.
No paralegal is going to walk into court and defend someone. No nurse is going to perform a complicated procedure they do not have the training to do. It’s that simple.
Misconception #3- “Now women can have an abortion up until birth! That’s not an abortion. It’s killing a child!”
Not so fast. Under the new law, women can ONLY have an abortion after 24 weeks for two reasons. No doctor can legally perform a late term abortion after 24 weeks unless:
- The life or health of the mother is in danger. It is extremely rare after 24 weeks as the fetus is usually viable and can be delivered in most cases. I can guarantee you one thing: If a mother has gone through the pain of an excruciating pregnancy that threatened her life, she is going to want that baby to survive. That is the reward for all the pain.
- The fetus is not viable, meaning that it will not live outside of the womb. It could take moments for the baby to pass. It could take weeks. Again, I want you to think about the mother. Carrying a human in your body for 40 weeks is an incredible experience. When that baby will never live it is traumatic. And, not just for the mother. The father suffers through that as well. Parents deserve to make a decision on when to humanely end a pregnancy so a baby will not suffer outside of the womb and the parents will not experience physical and emotional trauma. You think postpartum depression is bad? Add PTSD to that too.
Misconception #4— “This is not a women’s rights issue! You can’t call it that just because men can’t have babies.”
This infuriates me. What we are talking about is the health, safety and well being of women. These are three things we should have an absolute right to.
Ignoring these factors in creating or upholding law is a denial of those rights. Not allowing a woman to make these difficult decisions is removing her agency. It’s not okay.
Women have abortions for a wide range of reasons. I completely understand that most times these happen in the first trimester and are not for medical reasons. I get that. But that’s a whole other ball of wax. We’re talking about New York’s law. We’re not taking the entire concept of abortion. That can be saved for another day.
Now, go forth and combat ignorance with reasoning, logic and information. Leave your pearls at home today.
*Disclaimer: For the record — I am not a lawyer or a doctor. I don’t play one on TV and I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn last night. I just really, really love legislative session.
I have, however, lost a baby at 12 weeks. I tell you this so you understand my empathy for an incomplete pregnancy and the pain it causes. For a reason I will never know, my baby’s heart just stopped beating. But, my body would not let it go. It wouldn’t miscarry. I required a D & C, which the CDC considers an abortion for statistical purposes. It was performed the day before Halloween and I laid on my couch and cried all the next evening as countless beautiful children rang my doorbell for candy.
*If you enjoyed this piece, feel free to check out a couple others I think you’d dig: