On Abortion Rights and VBAC.

2 Apr

I learned something new today! (An important part of daily life.)

One of the lovely members of Abortioneers explained to me over Twitter that the scars from a c-section can be reason to deny a woman an abortion.

I had never even thought of this. I knew of women being denied a vaginal birth because of their risk of uterine rupture, but I had never considered women being denied an abortion because of previous c-section(s). It shouldn’t have surprised me, of course. 60% of women who abort already have at least one child, which means they’ve already given birth at least once. And with a c-section rate at somewhere around 32% or more, depending upon the state, it makes perfect sense that many women wishing to obtain an abortion would have had c-sections.

This past week, when I haven’t been worrying about real life, I’ve been trying to think of a way that the birthing activists and abortion rights activists could be brought together, to fight together for reproductive justice. Could this be it?

I know that prochoicers who fight for abortion rights, when they think about it, fight for all reproductive rights. However, a lot of our time is spent focused solely on abortion rights. I think a lot of people, even feminist activists, don’t realize that women have trouble accessing vaginal birth. The stigma surrounding abortion makes it obvious to us how difficult accessing abortion can be. But there isn’t a stigma surrounding vaginal birth (except inside a hospital room behind closed doors). We’re just never told that women are denied vaginal births after c-sections, unless we suffer it ourselves or find our way into the birthing community.

Even though I’m sure abortion right activists care about birthing rights, I can see where some might decide to focus solely on abortion rights. However, when we consider the above, birthing rights BECOME abortion rights. If a woman is forced to go through repeat c-sections, and then she is denied an abortion because of her c-sections? That’s an abortion rights issue. We can’t change that a woman is denied an abortion because of medical reasons. But we CAN change that she is forced into a repeat c-section for no reason besides hospital policy.

If we care about abortion rights, we have to care about birthing rights.

Now just to figure out how to bring the birthing community majority into abortion rights activism.


2 Responses to “On Abortion Rights and VBAC.”

  1. NYCprochoiceMD April 5, 2010 at 10:34 pm #

    It is very important for us to remember that the prochoice movement and the birthing rights movement are 2 sides of the same coin, and I’m glad you have pointed this out.

    As a point of clarification, it is not standard medical practice to deny someone an abortion due to a history of c-section, even if there are complications such as a placenta accreta. The complications you mention, placenta accreta and placenta previa, both are only detectable (and dangerous) later in pregnancy, after the first trimester.

    Anywhere you go you will find different medical practices based on local medical culture. The majority of abortion providers would not consider any of the problems you mentioned as a reason not to proceed with an abortion, although they would of course warn the woman of some increased risk (which would probably be greater if the pregnancy were to continue to term). When considering the risks involved in terminating a pregnancy, we must, as always, consider the risks involved in continuing the pregnancy, which are invariably greater.

  2. Tiffany April 13, 2010 at 6:12 pm #

    A very interesting point. I am a very big proponent of VBAC and birth rights and was pointed out of this comparison to abortion rights as well. The big thing to compare here is pro-choice; birth choices and life choices. Why do mothers have choices early in their pregnancy, but not later; even when evidence based research clearly shows that VBAC is safer than repeat C-sections? Just goes to show how much work is needed for women’s rights in general.

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