We believe that if you’ve decided to get an abortion, you should be able to get one without delay, without judgement, and without going broke.
What do we mean when we say “later abortion?”
“Later Abortion” is not a bright line; it is used here to refer to abortions at or after 20 weeks
Abortion is safe at any point in pregnancy
Later Abortions are expensive, costing between $2,500 and $20,000, or more
Health Insurance plans rarely cover abortions later in pregnancy
Public opinion polls suggest that while support for abortion access is high, support wanes for access later in pregnancy
Many people are not able to access a desired abortion, especially as their pregnancy progresses
Rhetoric vs Lived Experiences: Why do people seek abortions later in pregnancy?
Katrina Kimport, a researcher at UCSF, identified two common pathways through which people find themselves seeking abortions later in pregnancy:
New information that changes the course of the pregnancy :
Pregnancy was discovered after the 1st trimester
Poor fetal diagnosis
Newly discovered threat to the health or life of the patient
Sudden life event or significant change in circumstances
Barriers to obtaining care as early as desired :
Abortion restrictions and burdensome regulations
Difficulty paying for an abortion earlier
Interaction with Crisis Pregnancy Center (CPC)
Conflicts with family and/or partner about the pregnancy
Difficulty finding or traveling to an abortion provider
Note that plenty of people may fit into both categories. They may get information later in their pregnancy and then have difficulty accessing care as soon as they would like.
There is no data to support or even suggest a statement about the distribution of patients across these categories. A common misconception is that most later abortions involve a poor fetal diagnosis, but there is no data to support this.
Later in pregnancy, the cost of abortion increases, the number of providers decreases, and more restrictions go into effect.
When we’re talking Later Abortion, we’re talking Restrictions
Conversations about later abortion often focus on where the legal line should be rather than questioning whether there should even be a line. Challenge the premise of restrictions.
No abortion restriction in reasonable to the person affected by it. We must weigh any regulation of abortion against the people actually affected by it. We must weigh our beliefs or our discomfort against someone else’s rights.
Abortion is generally regulated at the state level. While Roe vs Wade and subsequent federal decisions protect abortion from some state regulation, federal statutes allow restrictions after a point in pregnancy. Politicians in 43 states have placed gestational limits on abortion at some point during pregnancy.
When someone has decided to seek an abortion, most Americans want their experience to be safe, affordable, and free from judgement. Nevertheless, who you are often has a lot to do with whether or not you can access care, and when you can access care.
Restrictions are Discrimination
Because abortion restrictions create obstacles that some people are able to overcome and others are not, they are discriminatory. Because they target medical care that is only sought by people who can become pregnant, they are discriminatory. Because we do not live in equitable environments and a host of other factors, unrelated to pregnancy, may dictate whether or not someone will be able to navigate abortion restrictions and access care, they are discriminatory.
So what do we want?
Access to abortion throughout pregnancy for everyone. No exceptions. No restrictions. No discrimination.
What does that mean?
We need state laws that:
Establish statutory protections for access to abortion throughout pregnancy, without gestational/reason-based limits
Prohibit interference or burdensome regulations imposed by any state or local government entity
Affirm reproductive autonomy with regard to contraception, sterilization, pregnancy, birth, and abortion
Compel coverage of abortion by all insurance providers operating in the state, including Medicaid
How do we get there?
Depolarization is the key
Advocate in a way that doesn’t feed into polarization and over-simplification. Instead of trying to win a debate, exercise empathy with your target audience, answer questions honestly and speak to the heart of their concerns using a values-based approach, and make space for conflicted feelings around later abortion. Many people may remain conflicted about later abortion, but their personal conflict shouldn’t be a basis for legal restrictions.
Focus on Restrictions, not Abortions
Challenge the premise of restrictions that draw a bright line at an arbitrary point in pregnancy. Instead of arguing about where the legal line should be, question whether there should even be a line. And talk about the people left on the other side of it.
Move past someone’s decision to have an abortion. Don’t focus on reasons, focus on abortion restrictions and the experience of patients who have had to navigate them to access care.
Remind your audience that no abortion restriction is reasonable to the person affected by it. We have to weigh our beliefs or internal conflict against someone’s freedom and ability to access healthcare.
Don’t focus on getting your message across, meet the needs of your target audience
Model a journey of understanding. If you evolved on this issue, talk about that.
Be proactive and address WHY people seek later abortions, not their reasons for seeking an abortion, but why many are seeking an abortion later in pregnancy
Remember that people may have a limited understanding of pregnancy, abortion, and of laws that regulate abortion; assume nothing!
Talking about later abortion can be emotionally overwhelming for some; listen, speak to the heart of their concerns, and avoid combative or alienating
Make space for conflicting feelings and model holding the tension of opposites
Challenge flawed mental templates about abortion seekers and abortion providers by digging into hypotheticals and answering them with real patient narratives
Use gender-neutral language, include everyone
Say “abortion” when talking about abortion
We cannot assume our audiences understand pregnancy, abortion, or even the human body
Focus on pregnant people, not the pregnancy
Understand Reproductive Justice because whether someone is free from reproductive oppression is about more than the legal right to abortion
Don’t focus on exceptional and tragic cases; don’t play into the politics of sympathy
Don’t focus on rarity of later abortion, it is stigmatizing, and due to restrictions pushing people later, it may get less rare
Don’t compromise on restrictions because restrictions = discrimination!