The 20-Week Abortion Myth

Much of print media in Iowa recently, including the Register and Nonpareil, have run extensive coverage about HF 657, a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy.  While I admire the Nonpareil covering actual news, news that would affect the lives of many Iowans, I’ve been quite disappointed in the lop-sidedness of the coverage.  It’s also been quite disheartening to see our City Council meetings filled to the brim with anti-abortion zealots fuming with anger. Yet, almost none of these attendees are even from our great city. 

Let’s get to the heart of the issue. This is not about babies. It’s about freedom and fundamental rights for women.  With the recent Republican takeover of the Iowa House of Representatives and the United States House of Representatives, this Party ran on a message of job creation, deficit reduction and cutting taxes.  The legislative results of these takeovers?  Attempting to shut down the federal government over the funding of Planned Parenthood and bills to ban abortion.  Instead of focusing on the issues that could help put Americans back to work and to ease the struggle of trying to survive such harsh economic times, these legislators, almost all of whom are elderly, white, and male, have decided that their misogyny should be front and center and take legislative form. 

Much has been written about LeRoy Carhart opening a clinic in Council Bluffs. This clinic is what has caused the uproar at these City Council meetings and even led to the writing of this bill itself. Let’s ignore for a minute how ridiculous it is to write legislation to prevent or force someone from coming into your State or community to practice legal medicine, but on the fact that any such clinic is unlikely to open and this issue is really a diversion. 

I had the opportunity to work for LeRoy Carhart in 2009-2010.  I’ve met over the course of my career tens of thousands of women who were seeking safe, legal abortion services.  Some of these women needed later abortions.  What seems to be lost in this debate is the actual human equation.  As I said in the beginning, this isn’t about babies; this is about freedom and women’s rights.  Have any of these legislators even asked the question, why would a woman seek an abortion after 20 weeks?  Have they thought to seek someone out to share their story?  If they did, they would never support this bill.

Later abortion is a heart-wrenching decision which is never taken lightly.  I saw women travel thousands of miles with just the clothes on their backs, crying, distraught and broken, and the only hope they had left in their soul was that someone was there and able to help them through this situation.  Women who were faced with severely deformed fetuses, some of them with conditions incompatible with life.  I met children who had become pregnant as a result of incest or rape, women who were told lies by their physicians in order to deter them from abortion, women who were left in dire situations. The stories are abundant. 

The forgotten element here is the women.  Women need abortion; they need it to be safe, legal and available.  This bill isn’t rooted in any sort of good intention.  Its sole aim is to roll back the tide on Roe and decrease access to abortion.  The right-wing has been chipping away for decades now, and this is their newest mechanism.  HF 657 is a myth that focuses on the 20th week of pregnancy at which we must conclude that an arbitrary line must be drawn and restrict abortions past this time.  Who are these legislators to decide the fate of women’s lives?  Women will die, women’s lives will be destroyed, and forced pregnancy, which is tantamount to slavery, will result in unwanted births, the consequences of such births have always been shown to not end in the best of circumstances.

More children in institutions, foster homes, and dumpsters, this is what the Republicans want.  They don’t want to fund Medicaid, food stamps, welfare and various social programs that many of these women will need if forced to carry these pregnancies to term.  This proves that the Republicans only really care about these ‘babies’ when they’re in-utero.  This isn’t about babies or abortion; it’s about pandering to their base and aiming to score political points. 

Where has our American spirit gone?  I was under the impression that this country was founded on the principles of individual freedom, freedom from oppression, freedom from religious tyranny and some day, gender being no basis for discrimination.  Women have a right to control their lives, their health, and their reproductive systems. These false and arbitrary limits being placed on abortion hurt women and destroy lives and would just lead to more and more women being effectively forced into reproductive slavery. 

I implore the Iowa Senate to vote down this destructive measure.  I implore the Council Bluffs City Council to get back to doing the work they were elected to do instead of letting this time wasting spectacle continue.  Lastly, Mayor Hanafan, I’ve always supported you, but your recent comments on this measure are an outrageous embarrassment and oddly timed, as you had nothing to say on this issue until this past week.  Stand up for what’s right, pandering and posturing under pressure isn’t leadership it’s political impotence and shows that you lack any true character. 

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  • rweresponsible


    “This is not about babies. It’s about freedom and fundamental rights for women.”

    Please do explain how this is so? What is fundamental about killing a baby?

  • wendy-banks

    Get lost troll!

  • equalist

    The fetus has nothing to do with it.  It’s the woman’s fundamental right to be in control of her own body and what happens to it and inside it. 

  • ack

    There is an astronomical difference between abortion and infanticide. I encourage you to read the multitude of excellent posts on this site about bodily autonomy.


    To sum it up, a baby can rely on people other than its mother for care. A fetus living inside a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant is inherently infringing on her rights. By granting fetuses the right to use that woman or girl’s body against her will, you’re granting rights to fetuses that NO ONE ELSE HAS. 


    This isn’t about “killing a baby.” This is about women and girls being able to fully participate in society. This is about women and girls being able to make decisions about their futures. Those ARE fundamental rights. 

  • rweresponsible

    Equalist – If you did as your name suggested, you would realize that a fetus “equals” a situation in which a woman makes a choice to abort or not. That situation cannot be possible without a fetus. Therefore, your “fundamental rights” argument cannot be but a twinkle in the proverbial blinded eye that that log is sticking out of.  In other words, the fetus is what allows you to even make the claim.


    Ya, the fetus has quite a bit to do with it.

  • rweresponsible

    This comment has been removed.


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  • colleen

    Excuse me for being incredibly rude and blatant

    I do not excuse you. This is not a blog to proselytize and it’s not a blog where  ‘pro-life’ men can  indulge in verbal abuse. Go away Paul.

  • forced-birth-rape

    ~ I do not have the right to cause a woman or little girl extreme vaginal pain against her will to save my life, no one else should either. You Pro-RAPE catholic creep. ~

    ~ You just want to dictate a vagina because you have pimp envy. ~



    ~ RWeResponsible do you believe ten year old girls who are pregnant by way of rape should stay pregnant and give birth? ~

  • reproductivefreedomfighter

    Well, you know you’re rude, and so do we.  Big surprise.  But yeah, the fetus doesn’t have a choice here, mmmkay?  The fetus cannot ensure that its mother can afford it.  The fetus has no idea if it is not going to survive, because it is aborted, or because it has a medical anomaly.  The fetus cannot survive without its mother.  THE FETUS IS NOT SENTIENT.  So yeah, the fetus doesn’t get a choice.  I think by “fetus” here, you actually mean you.  YOU don’t have a choice in a woman’s pregnancy. At all.  Ever.  EVER. 

  • ack

    First, I’d like to express my appreciation of the energy you spent lifting your finger from the shift key, then depressing it again in order to insult me. The caps really add something special!


    Second, the argument is pretty simple. For the most part, people who aren’t in favor of abortion rights try to claim that they’re giving fetuses rights because they’re people. Well, people don’t have the right to use other people’s bodies against their will. Your argument could be easily rephrased as, “What choice does they dying person with your blood type who needs a bone marrow transplant have?” But we don’t sign people up for those kinds of donations if they don’t want to donate, even though the process is shorter and far less risky than pregnancy and childbirth. Why should women and girls be denied the right to refuse to donate bodily resources if they’re pregnant?


    Additionally, you’re right; fetuses can’t make choices. They don’t know there’s a choice to be made. They aren’t sentient. The woman or girl in the equation (remember her?), who IS sentient and capable of making choices for herself should be able to make those choices. Denying us the right to make choices about when, whether, and with whom to bear children (or more children) has a direct effect on our ability to fully participate in education, in our professions, and in pretty much every aspect of our lives.

  • arekushieru

    An organ recipient is what allows us to make the claim that we have the right to control our own bodies, yet that same log that you mention is sticking out of her eye, you don’t seem to notice in your own….

  • arekushieru

    You’re right.  It doesn’t HAVE a choice, whether a woman chooses to give birth, chooses to get pregnant or chooses to terminate a pregnancy, the fetus has no choice.  So, right back atcha (MORON).  Btw, that tells me whose body you place more importance on…. Hint: It’s NOT the woman’s.  Way to prove me correct! 

  • rweresponsible

    Colleen – That’s OK. No sleep lost here… but indulging? Hardly. Just venting a little bit of steam. Can you believe some of these posts?

    Proselytize? Not I Colleen. There is NO way I could get through in a few simple post here. Not my style or yours for that matter. Now if there was a Starbucks? THEN we would be on for an afternoon!

    I do think that the majority of the “opposition” posters here use tired rhetoric recycled from the likes of Nietzsche, Hitchens, Burroughs, Morgentaler and even our good friend Ms. Chavkin (among others). Nothing new here which tells of how entrenched some are in there own beliefs and stigmas.  One thing: if we want to understand one another, it helps to have some common ground.  I would be more than happy to acknowledge that you have your beliefs and I have mine, then proceed to find SOMETHING we could talk about without bitting.  Is that fair Colleen?

    By the way, who is Paul? I have two uncles named Paul… although myself, not a Paul.

  • arekushieru

    You are stigmatized against women.  The question is… will you finally admit it…?

  • crowepps

    Nothing new here?  At least we’re not recycling tired religious dogma from 380.  Anybody who actually looks at the Church’s positions discovers very quickly most of it isn’t based in scripture and doesn’t make much sense.  All that nonsense about claiming “Divine Grace revealed” isn’t any more believable than the ‘revelations’ of Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or Marshall Applewhite.


    Catholicism has distorted the love and forgiveness Christ preached by subordinating both to a punitive, authoritarian heirarchy.  Its bizarre teachings about sexuality have created a priesthood so conflicted and steeped in perversion that the Church is morally bankrupt, and sliding rapidly towards economic bankruptcy as well as more and more of those physically and sexually abused kids get smart lawyers with lots of evidence who hold out for serious settlements.  The Church has been caught lying about its assets and shuffling property around to hide it so often that courts are unsympathetic to the protestations of poverty and claims that making the Church pay up will “hurt our hospitals, schools and the poor orphans”.  Fortunately for the rest of us, it’s become clear they run hospitals as a way to monitor and control people, and no one in their right mind wants them anywhere near schools or orphans.

  • ray984954

    When I heard that my representative voted yes on HR 3, here is what I told him:

    I am truly upset over your vote of yes on HR 3. What do you anti-choicers have against women? Do you just object to women having sex with an unintended result of pregnancy, and therefore you feel you must punish these women? Do we live in the Dark Ages, no, but you and your Rethugnut buddies and a few turncoat Democrats are taking us back there. Oh, I’m sorry about the renamed Republican Party to the Rethugnut Party, because I think you are acting like thugs and are nuts in what you have been doing in 2011.
    What about the narrative up to the 2010 elections about Boner and his ever crying out , “where are the jobs” that most in your party ran on? So far and this is May 2011 and no jobs bill has been introduced yet, only a farcicle agenda to reward campaign donors and Teabagger wing nuts, in repealing healthcare reform, and a spate of draconian abortion bills; all actions to please the base of the party, not for all the people. You guys were elected to represent “all” the people, not just those who got you elected.
    Mark my word with bills that go against half of the population, yes….women are more than half the population, and even though they have the vote, they are not represented in the Congress of the US. It should be mandatory in the future to have a 50-50 split of women to men and only then will women be truly represented. Even in the backward country of Afghanistan there is a 28% ratio of women to men in their lawmaking body and it is written into their constitution. In the US it is only 17%.
    I consider your vote on H.R. 3. to be an attack on women. I will not forget that you voted to ‘redefine rape. An assault on one woman is an assault on all women.
    For men to assume they should have the last word on the issue of abortion is nutty. For men cannot, will not, shall not, ever be pregnant and will not have to ever decide on an abortion. Only women get pregnant, and the decision they make is truly not like what some men in the House made it out to be, the same as choosing a brand of toothpaste, or however they like to trivialize it. I’m a man and the abortion issue is not ever something I will have to decide for myself, but I can support the women who may have to decide, after all, Roe vs Wade was about the right to privacy. There is not anything more private than ones own body, and the rights to privacy are paramount.
  • arectaris

    To assume that no man in Congress can have any say on abortion ignores the fact that the U.S. is a representative republic, that in any given election women are the majority of voters and that many of those male Congressman whom you say shouldn’t be allowed to have any say on the issue of abortion carried the vote of women in their district.

  • prochoiceferret

    many of those male Congressman whom you say shouldn’t be allowed to have any say on the issue of abortion carried the vote of women in their district.


    Would that be the case if said male Congressperson was voted into office with a promise to enact policies that would encourage hiring, rather than focus on divisive social issues?

  • beenthere72

    Thank you, ray, for speaking out for us and against this legislation.   

    My congressman voted against it, but here’s what I submitted to my senators:

        This is just utterly obnoxious.  Why are we attacking women and girls that have already been attacked, whether they were able to scream, show any bruises or not?    Why are you punishing them again with this ludicrous legislation that hardly saves tax payers any money and only makes the most vulnerable women and children (who are NOT to be compared to fertilized eggs – are you completely forgetting about the very people that must give these things life support???)  Every time I read Chris Smith’s comments about how the unborn are the most vulnerable I want to scream – who the f* do you think has to carry those ‘babies’ to term and risk their own lives to do so??????  We are WOMEN here and we are NOT STUPID!  I am livid that instead of focusing on our economy and jobs, you are raging a war on necessary healthcare for women and girls.   Don’t force those that have been raped or a victim of incest to suffer even more.     Please, have a heart for us women that are here before you.   Trust us to make decisions for ourselves.  It should never be up to the government to make those decisions for us.  And for poor women dependent on Medicaid, she deserves to have all the same options as those of us with private insurance.   Abortion is LEGAL and just because a few radical, selfish, conservative tax payers are screaming about where their taxes are going, well many of us are screaming about our taxes paying for soldiers to die in useless wars as well.  And what about oil company subsidies?  C’mon, now!   We got more important sh!t to worry about.

        I am just disgusted by this legislation and their war on women.     I am completely disgusted with each and every legislator that votes in favor of this abusive legislation.    Women will not forget, you will simply not get our vote next time around.

        Where are the jobs?

    Sign here!

  • arekushieru

    You missed his point, of course.  Anti-choice imposes a decision on others. ProChoice leaves the decision up to the woman.  Abortion shouldn’t even be contested.