The Truth About Fetal Pain Laws

22 Mar

Let me set something straight about anti-choice laws; they are never what they seem. It is never about getting minors to talk to their parents, ensuring that women make choices that they don’t regret, or ensuring that a fetus doesn’t feel pain during the procedure. One restriction leads to another, and their goals are always the same: to restrict women’s freedom.

Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of so-called “fetal pain” laws. This is something that anti-choicers try to pull all the time. They try to make it seem as if they just want to make sure that the fetus isn’t being hurt by its evil, careless mother (while, of course, ignoring the fact that forcing women to give birth to fetuses that have deformities often results in more pain, both for the fetus and the woman). In reality, making the cut off point for abortions earlier has nothing to do with concern for what the fetus may or may not go through during the procedure. Restrictions on third trimester abortions lead to restrictions on second trimester abortions. Restrictions on second trimester abortions lead to restrictions on first trimester abortions. Restrictions on first trimester abortions leads to no more abortion rights for women, and that’s when anti-choicers will begin to attack our other rights, particularly our right our sexuality and to birth control. This is only one reason why we can’t use later term abortions as a bargaining chip.

The other reason why we can never bargain away these rights is because these “fetal pain” laws/late term abortion restrictions hurt all people with the ability to get pregnant. Take this instance, for example.

“Danielle Deaver was 22 weeks pregnant when her water broke and doctors gave her a devastating prognosis: With undeveloped lungs, the baby likely would never survive outside the womb, and because all the amniotic fluid had drained, the tiny growing fetus slowly would be crushed by the uterus walls.”

You can probably see exactly where this is going. Because of the 20 week cut off due to people who think that fetuses MIGHT be able to feel pain at that time, Danielle Deaver was refused an early induction, leading to more pain for the fetus and more risk and emotional pain for her and her family. Danielle Deaver’s life and health was needlessly put at risk due to an anti-choice law, while her fetus had to suffer even more (and then ended up dying anyway).

This is the connection we must make. So-called “fetal pain” laws are not about fetal pain, they are about restricting a woman’s rights as soon as she hits a certain point in her pregnancy. These laws do not only hurt women who want to have abortions; they hurt women who desperately wanted to become mothers and sometimes bring more pain to fetuses.

This is something that our movement needs to work on. When we bargain away certain rights, not only will that lead to the chipping away of more of our basic rights, but getting these rights back is a lot of work. We also must fight to tear away the mask that anti-choicers hide behind. We must make it clear that anti-choicers do not care about women and they do not care about fetuses and we must be loud about this. Finally, we must not only amplify Danielle Deaver’s voice (and those with similar stories), but we must amplify the voices of other women who have been or are being hurt by anti-choice laws, too. There are a lot of them out there, and it’s time to expose anti-choicers for who they really are.


2 Responses to “The Truth About Fetal Pain Laws”

  1. Serena March 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm #

    You make really solid arguments – especially about how allowing ourselves to get sucked into the “common ground” fallacy will mean that we are just handing over all of our reproductive rights. If you allow restrictions on late term abortions in the hopes of finding “common ground,” you had better expect that birth control and condoms are going to be on the table not too far down the line.

  2. Jameson March 24, 2011 at 3:08 am #

    I’ve started calling them for what they are. Pro-liars.

    They lie about abortion. They lie about birth control. They lie about women (“women can’t keep their legs closed!”), and they lie about men (“men can’t help themselves!”). They lie.

    Pro-lie is NOT and never will be “pro-life.” Pro-choice is the only real pro-life – because it gives the right of choice to the only person whose opinion matters: the woman!

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