Arizona Lawmakers Trying To Legislate Pregnancy Two Weeks Prior To Conception


Editor’s Note: This article was amended at 2:03 pm EDT on Wednesday, April 4th, 2012 to address an error in the original article, which incorrectly stated that Arizona’s 20-week abortion ban was the only one among several states considering or passing such bans to use “last menstrual period” for dating gestational age, and to clarify the intention of the original piece.  Edits are visible in the article itself.

The past few months, we’ve seen the nation wake up to many anti-choice assaults on women’s basic right to control their fertility, especially with regards to imposing forced ultrasounds and numerous attacks on access to basic contraception. But one of the other favorite anti-choice approaches to maximizing the pain and suffering of women as punishment for sex has largely gone unnoticed by many outside of the pro-choice activist community: bans on abortions after 20 weeks. It’s understandable that it’s hard to whip people up about this particular situation. After all, abortions after 20 weeks are relatively rare. Only 1.5 percent of abortions occur after the 20th week, and the vast majority of those that do occur are done for medical reasons, or because legal and financial obstacles–like those put in place by lawmakers–caused a delay in getting an early abortion. While, if they knew their personal stories, most people would certainly sympathize with women in need of post-20-week abortions, a certain amount of reproductive rights fatigue is setting in. There’s only so many hours in the day, and anti-choicers know if they just keep throwing restrictions on access at us, some will slip through the cracks.

But, as exhausting as it is, we need to pay attention to and resist post-20 week bans on abortion. That’s because they are cruel on the surface, but also because legislators are using 20-week bans to smuggle in other items of more importance to them than simply making it harder for a slim minority of women seeking abortions to get them. The most obvious thing they’re trying to do is set anti-science precedent [create legal precedents for medical procedures.] Since these bans are based on the false, unscientific claim that fetuses at 20-weeks can feel pain, if they’re allowed to stand, they open the door for more laws based on straight-up lies to be passed. These laws are also being used to challenge the requirement set out in Roe v Wade that a woman’s health and life should trump that of the misogynist desire to keep her pregnant at all costs.

Legislators have had so much success smuggling in ulterior motives with 20-week bans that they’re now looking for ways to expand the amount of hard right anti-choice nonsense they can attach to those bills. The most A recent—and extreme—example is Arizona. There, lawmakers are writing a 20-week abortion ban that, [like those in other states] starts counting off seeks to legislate pregnancy as beginning at the first day of a woman’s period. Yes, they’re arguing that you’re “pregnant” while you’re actually getting your period. In fact, as Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones explains, they’re really trying to steal as many weeks as possible away from women seeking abortion:

Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occured anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona’s law would start the clock at a woman’s last period—which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.

That’s bad in and of itself, but taking a step back and looking at the big picture makes this law look even more sinister.

[While it is true that medical professionals dealing with both wanted and unwanted pregnancies use the date of last menstrual period to gauge gestational age, this is a medical tool for assessing a pregnancy; it becomes a dangerous precedent in the hands of anti-choice legislators.]

Medically speaking, pregnancy starts when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Anti-choicers have attempted to define it earlier shift the goalposts of pregnancy with their failed attempts to pass “personhood” laws conferring the full rights of a living, breathing person on a fertilized egg. that would define not just pregnancy, but “personhood” as beginning at conception. Arizona and other states with 20-week bans are trying to argue that you’re pregnant a couple of weeks before you even had the sex that resulted in your pregnancy.

Think about the implications down the road. If a woman is “pregnant” two weeks before she becomes pregnant, than any fertile woman—including those currently menstruating!—should really be considered pregnant. After all, we don’t know the future. We don’t know that any non-pregnant woman couldn’t be pregnant two weeks from now, making her retroactively pregnant now. Considering that it’s anti-choice nuts we’re talking about, it’s safe to assume that they’d simply prefer a situation where all women of reproductive age are considered to be pregnant, on the grounds that they could be two weeks from now. Better safe than sorry, especially if that mentality means you get to exert maximum control over the bodies of women of reproductive age.

Between personhood bills and the assault on access to contraception, it’s becoming increasingly clear that anti-choicers aren’t satisfied with simply trying to control the already-pregnant. Finding ways to define the not-pregnant as pregnant is a means of laying the groundwork for exerting this control. Imagine if Roe is overturned and states go into a true frenzy of stripping every imaginable right away from pregnant women. It wouldn’t be limited to stripping the right to abortion, but also to any kind of behavior deemed “abortive,” including holding certain kinds of jobs, eating certain foods, or taking certain medications. With this bill, then, you could not only restrict the rights of those who are actually pregnant, but extend the restrictions to all women of reproductive age on the grounds that they “could be pregnant in two weeks, i.e. in perpetuity” and would therefore be considered the same thing as being pregnant.

Already in some states, they’re looking for ways to prosecute women who have stillbirths if they did something the prosecutor believes may have had an impact on the pregnancy, such as drug use. With the hoped-for overturn of Roe, we can expect these efforts to intensify, with prosecutions of miscarriages. Now with this Arizona bill, if a woman is deemed pregnant two weeks before she actually is, prosecutors could even have a chance to look at your choices when you weren’t even pregnant—before you even had the sex that made you pregnant—and blame those choices for bad outcomes. They’re creating, brick by brick, the legal basis on which to prosecute a woman who drinks some alcohol, becomes pregnant two weeks later, and miscarries, even though she didn’t drink while pregnant. And you best believe that when feminists protest this, they’ll just paint it as if we’re more interested in protecting drunken sluts than “babies.”

If you can [legally] be “pregnant” without being pregnant, that also creates legal complications around simple menstruation. After all, menstruation is usually seen as the opposite of being pregnant; women use menstruation to mark that they aren’t pregnant. But under this bill, you could both be menstruating and “pregnant” by law. Should Roe be overturned and the state start looking to prosecute women for miscarriages they deem inappropriately prevented, what about women who are just getting their period? They’re “pregnant” under the pregnant-prior-to-conception framework, aren’t they? Are they miscarrying in the eyes of the law or are they just continuing their theoretical pregnancy? These kinds of ambiguities are exactly the sort of thing zealous misogynist law enforcement will be looking to exploit. 

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  • waterjoe

    was not always defined as beginning at implantation.  It used to be, and many medical texts still, define it as beginning at fertilization.  The definitions in this bill may seem absurd, but that is what happens when we start redefining terms to conveniently meet our political agendas.

     

     

  • prochoiceferret

    was not always defined as beginning at implantation.  It used to be, and many medical texts still, define it as beginning at fertilization. 

     

    But then in vitro fertilization was discovered, and everyone realized that defining pregnancy in a way that didn’t involve an actual person being pregnant was rather silly.

     

    The definitions in this bill may seem absurd, but that is what happens when we start redefining terms to conveniently meet our political agendas.

     

    Yes, please stop doing that already!

  • lisac

    Mind you, I’m not defending the Arizona legislators for an instant, but it is pretty common medical practice to use the date of the last menstrual period (LMP) to calculate gestational age.

  • beldujour

    “Mind you, I’m not defending the Arizona legislators for an instant, but it is pretty common medical practice to use the date of the last menstrual period (LMP) to calculate gestational age.”

     

    Yes, but actual medical professionals know that the pregnancy timeframe of 40 weeks refers to the time between the first day of the last menstrual period (LMP date) and the approximate EDD (estimated date of delivery). It actually takes about 38 weeks to produce a full-term baby if we calculate from the point in her monthly cycle when a woman becomes fertile. (If you take a look at one of those pregnancy calculator wheels you’ll see what I mean.) The problem here is that we have people who are clueless about medicine — in particular, obstetrics and gynecology — attempting to make laws based on magical thinking.

  • ack

    This is a really important article. It’s missing something, though…When I’m not on the pill, my cycle is between 30-38 days. Which means that if I were to become pregnant, I’d be judged as being almost 7 weeks along before I even figured out that it was really late. Teenagers often have irregular periods, so they might be judged as being beyond 20 weeks not based on an ultrasound, but by the fact that they had their last period 4 months ago, even if the fetus is only one or two months along in development. It’s absurd.

     

  • reality53102

    “Now with this Arizona bill, if a woman is deemed pregnant two weeks before she actually is, prosecutors could even have a chance to look at your choices when you weren’t even pregnant—before you even had the sex that made you pregnant—and blame those choices for bad outcomes. “

    One scenario: many, many people are on necessary meds that can be/are dangerous to a fetus. What happens if they are taking it in the time of the LMP date?  To the comment of Lisa C (“ it is pretty common medical practice to use the date of the last menstrual period (LMP)”, once this is LAW, there is no stopping the prosecution of those that fall within that perilous time frame.

  • justmywords

    There’s a pretty big difference in a physician using LMP to calculate gestational age, and in coming to a legal conclusion that the LMP is the beginning of the pregnancy.  Not the least of which is that one of those two things is wrong not only ethically but scientifically and factually. 

    No matter how anyone wants to parse it, a woman is NOT pregnant at the date of the LMP. 

  • justmywords

    By that logic, nothing could ever change as a result of changing standards, new scientific knowledge, or a new understanding of information we already had.

    By that logic, churches would have nothing to say about abortion, because even the religious view of pregnancy has changed over the years. The Catholic church, for instance, at one time believed that life didn’t really begin until ‘quickening,’ or when a woman could feel the child move. Abortion before that point was not a sin. Some churches taught that the fetus got a soul at anywhere from 45-60 days, and it wasn’t considered sinful to abort a pregnancy before that point. 

    Medical texts are not defining pregnancy according to political agendas. They’re defining pregnancy based on scientific knowledge – and it’s worth pointing out that if some texts are still defining pregnancy as beginning at fertilization, then not even medicine has come to an across-the-board agreement. Personally,

    I’m thinking that allowing legislators to make medical decisions for people is a pretty bad idea. And if those laws were affecting other groups – like, groups that include men – we’d see a lot more raising hell than we have so far. Unfortunately, too many people are allowing the idea of ‘I don’t approve of abortion so it’s OK’ to keep them from recognizing the idea of ‘if it’s OK for a group of strangers to put their personal opinions about pregnancy into law, then it’s also OK for them to put their personal opinions about every other medical procedure into law.’ 

  • gina-crosleycorcoran

    Listen, folks, I’m as pro-choice as they come. I also happen to be a certified childbirth educator and doula, and until recently was a paralegal/pre-law student (and have written for RHRealityCheck on the subject). Materal Child Health is my specialty, and I can tell you that this article is both misleading and reactionary in all the wrong ways. The author lacks a fundamental understanding of both the medical calculation of gestation (going back to the 50′s) and also of the bill itself. I’m just as angry about people legislating our bodies as every other intelligent, progressive feminist. But for the love of god, can RHRealityCheck do some fact checking, please?

    Gestational age is and has always been calculated from the first date of LMP. That can be adjusted based on the average number of days in a woman’s cycle, and can also be adjusted based on an EARLY ultrasound to determine fetal development. But even when an early ultrasound determines fetal development, that will only adjust a gestational age by a few days or a week to account for cycle variations – it will NOT set the gestational age at the “age” of the fetus. That’s just not how it has ever worked, and in a legal setting, the physician’s determination of gestational age based on this calculation is what is entered into court records. There are many reasons that this calculation of gestational age can be used for and against women (namely, providers pushing women into inductions at 40 weeks when the fetus may really only be 38-39 weeks and may be underdeveloped.) But that doesn’t mean that this whole thing was Arizona’s idea. And even still, the bill contains clear but complex language that makes your argument a moot point.

     

    I tried to point this out to the author on twitter and she chose to insult me. But passing off misinformation isn’t helping our cause.

  • fuingala

    I am vehemently pro-choice, and was even in my fundie days as a child. That said, this kind of article makes us look reactionary and as bad at science and logic as they are. It also depends on and feeds off of people’s lack of education surrounding pregnancy just as much as their arguments do.

    Pregnancy is always counted from the first day of the last menstrual period. Almost every woman you’ve ever met who told you she was 20 weeks pregnant was counting, as her doctor/midwife did, from the first day of last MP. The language in the bill does NOT define a woman as pregnant during her period, it simply states the date used to mark gestational age. Nowhere in there does it say the pregnancy starts before a women has the sex that makes her pregnant. This is just putting the medicalese into the law to make sure everyone is using the same calendar that is already in use in every OB and midwife practice.

    Yes, HB2036 says on line 1 of page 8 that unless the context otherwise requires, ” ‘Gestational age’ means the age of the unborn child as calculated from the first day of the last menstrual period of the pregnant woman.”
    However, HB2036 also says on line 13 of page 4 that “the physician is responsible for estimating the gestational age of the fetus based on the ultrasound examination and obstetric standards in keeping with established standards of care regarding the estimation of fetal age as defined in rule and shall write the estimate in the patient’s medical history.”

    This leaves room for women whose cycles are NOT 28 days long, meaning they do NOT ovulate 2 weeks after first day of last MP. I’m a great example of that (this is why I said “ALMOST every woman” above). I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), which, among other things, means that I don’t have periods on any kind of schedule (we’re talking 8 weeks, 3 weeks, 5 weeks, 4 weeks, 7 weeks, etc.) and I ovulate 2 or 3 times per year. I can only tell when I ovulate by charting symptomatically, not by a calendar, but I’ve had to become very good at that in order to conceive kidlet without taking fertility drugs, and due to it and some injury circumstances, I know exactly when we *ahem* made kidlet. But at that point it had been 10 weeks since the first day of my last period. My doc of course knew that I had PCOS, and when I explained to her that I knew when she was conceived and how I knew, we confirmed my numbers to the day with an early ultrasound. Then we constructed an artificial first day of last MP to fit that date, so that when everyone else in the medical profession asked me for it, they’d get a number that actually meant something. So 20 weeks after the first day of my last MP, the fetus was at only 12 weeks gestational age. This law would NOT have prevented my terminating at that time, because the physician is responsible for determining the gestational age.
    The “they’re turning 18 weeks into 20 weeks” hysteria is completely misplaced.

    And on line 14 of page 8, HB2036 specifically defines pregnancy as beginning with conception:
    “‘Pregnant’ or ‘pregnancy’ means a female reproductive condition of having a developing unborn child in the body and that begins with conception.”
    The “they’re defining a woman as pregnant before she even has sex” hysteria is categorically false. They are specifically defining a woman as pregnant when they always have, which is at conception.

    If one wants to attack HB2036, one should do it on the grounds that a fetus at 20 weeks gestational age is not pain-capable, which is their major reason for choosing 20 weeks. HB2036 states that there is significant medical evidence that a fetus has the capacity to feel pain during an abortion by at least 20 weeks gestational age. It bases this on a paper from 1987. Considerable progress in the understanding of fetal development has been made in the last 25 years, and we should be using current research to write legislation.

    There are many reasons to oppose this bill. But this article’s road of twisting meanings and mis-stating fact just because it makes whipping up pro-choice hysteria as easy as whipping up ‘pro-life’ hysteria only makes us all look bad.

  • anugomez

    Thanks for pointing this out – this is the first thing I thought about as I read this article. 

  • alexist

    She’s right. How are other states calculating GA? Age from conception, or standard LMP dating? EVERY OB I have ever seen, and I’ve had infertility treatment so I’ve seen a lot, has calculated from LMP or adjusted LMP (O-14–standard practice in managed cycles where ovulation date is known and may vary substantially). Seriously, I have ultrasounds labeled GA 5w0d. (All you can see in one of these is a sac.)

    All your pregnancy books about how the first trimester is up to 13 weeks? They’re counting from LMP.

    So, OBs all over the world (I’ve had babies in 2 countries) are counting you as 2 weeks pregnant when you ovulate.

  • alexist

    I read your tweets on the distinction between law and custom.

    This isn’t simply custom; it’s established medical practice. If you want to argue that the law is an attempt to move the goalposts, you need to demonstrate that the law has traditionally gone against accepted medical practice and dates pregnancy from the date of conception for the purpose of abortion. Most medical guidelines on pregnancy use the LMP method, including the FDA’s own information on the use of mifepristone to terminate pregnancy.

    You failed to demonstrate that this is a change in practice, which is a prerequisite to claiming that the decision was a deliberate attempt to move the goalposts.

  • yellowbird73

    This is EXACTLY what I thought of when I read the article as well (by way of Jezebel, who did an equally annoying job of whipping up a frenzy about ALL THE ILLOGICAL THINKING!!!) — I’ve been pregnant seven times, miscarried a few times, and gave birth to two children. In all of these instances, I was considered a month pregnant when I missed my first period. And in all of my miscarriages, I was considered to miscarry at 5, 7, 9, whatever weeks… from my last period.

     

    It’s appalling that people are using this well-established medical calculation to further their own political agendas, but seriously — you can’t do a little fact checking? Be upset about the fact that people are using science to be idiots, but all you’re doing when you get up in arms about this “definition” is show that you’re not a very thorough researcher. The polician(s) in question are not INVENTING new definitions; they are seeking to expand current ones out of context and in a way that will hurt women. There’s a big difference, and you’d have a “story” either way. And, personally, I’d find the latter story more compelling and less likely to result in medical professionals having to defend themselves.

  • gina-crosleycorcoran

    For those interested in the actual truth and science here, please read Dr. Jen Gunter’s article on the topic: http://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/mother-jones-gets-facts-mixed-up-in-latest-abortion-article-and-why-it-matters/

     

    Getting our facts mixed up hurts only our own cause.

  • lindzanne

    I understand your point.  But to me the point of the article is that there is an attempt by legislators with no medical knowledge themselves to make medical decisions for us.  I think we are smart enough to understand that, yeah, we do calculate gestational age from LMP most of the time, but the bill in Arizona is turning that into a non-medical issue, and Amanda’s article is  reflection of that.  I am reminded of the Idaho ultrasound bill, where anti-choicers argued, well, ultrasounds are routine any way, what’s the problem with mandating them (and I definitely know that is NOT the point you were making, just to be clear.) And even if LMP is used, the article seems right to me on this point–this bill dates a fetus without allowing for variation in cycle or information that could be discovered via ultrasound.  You said, “But even when an early ultrasound determines fetal development, that will only adjust a gestational age by a few days or a week to account for cycle variations”.  A few days, maybe not a big deal, but a week–that can be a big deal when seeking abortion, especially in a state with severe restrictions.  My understanding is that this bill would not allow medical professionals to take that discovered week into account. 

    I am clearly not an expert, though, and you are.  I appreciate any feedback you might have on my points. 

  • crowepps

    The legislators aren’t incorporating that definition because it’s scientifically accurate — they’re incorporating it because by substituting ‘how doctors count weeks’ for the scientific definition of pregnancy, they can imply they’re talking about cutting abortions off ‘halfway through the pregnancy at 20 weeks’ when actually they’re talking about an 18 week fetus that is 5 ½ inches long and weighs less than 7 ounces.

    The reason that fetal anomalies can’t be diagnosed at this stage is that the fetus is TOO SMALL to get a diagnostic picture.  They adamently oppose any consideration whatsoever during a pregnancy for women’s physical or mental health.  Some don’t even want to allow exceptions for women who are dying.

    “It is not better that the mother live the rest of her existence having had her child killed.”

    http://www.catholicsun.org/2010/phxdio-stjoes/Q-AND-A-ST-JOSEPH-HOSPITAL-FINAL.pdf

    Women are supposed to WANT to die if their pregnancy isn’t successful.  After all, even at 2 inches long, the fetus is MUCH more important than she is; it might be a boy.

  • gina-crosleycorcoran

    As another commentor pointed out below: “HB2036 also says on line 13 of page 4 that “the physician is responsible for estimating the gestational age of the fetus based on the ultrasound examination and obstetric standards in keeping with established standards of care regarding the estimation of fetal age as defined in rule and shall write the estimate in the patient’s medical history.”

    The “established standards” are that gestational age has always been calculated from LMP, with allowances for variations in cycles and early ultrasounds, and it will continue to do exactly that. The physician has always been at liberty to calculate the woman’s gestational age dependant on her individual cycle – and nobody’s changing that with this bill. But the “gestational age” is always going to start approximately 14 days before ovulation. This fundamental fact seems to be news to the author (and to the many others who took this language out of context and conflated it to mean something it didn’t mean.) I posted an additional link from a physician a few comments down to further explain the medical perspective on this.

  • humanity

    Amanda,

    Why would someone who defends the innocent lives of rape victims so vigilently not also want to defend the innocent lives of prenatal victims? I love that you respect women so much, but I am confused as to when that respect begins. If it’s when her sex organs form, that happens way before 18 weeks of fetal life. An aborted female at that stage in fetal life will never have the chance to grow into a woman who can speak for her own rights.

    I really am just curious what your answer is – I am new to the world of pro-life vs. pro-abortion and am trying to understand.

    Thanks!

  • lindzanne

    Thanks, I will read the article, and did read the comment below but it still didn’t make it clear to me that just because the doctor can determine gestational age, the bill doesn’t mandate HOW they determine that age.  And, honestly, like I said, I’m no expert, and am having to educate myself a bit so I can understand the medical information everyone is sharing. 

    I am hearing from the original article and other sources that the bill mandates that a gestational age starts at a specific point no matter what.  If that is the case, I really don’t care if that’s how it’s normally done or even always is, it doesn’t belong in a law.  What I’m getting from you and other commenters here is that the doctor has discretion to date gestation, so that’s isn’t the point we should be using to fight this bill.

    I appretiate all the info you and others have shared here.  I have a lot to review!  (including re-reading the bill itself). 

  • jennifer-starr

    I believe that if a woman has been raped and impregnated, the decision of what to do with that pregnancy should be made by her.  Not by me, not by you, and certainly not by some politician.  It should be her choice and she should be able to make it privately, without interference from anyone.

     

    And incidentally, seeing as you’re so ‘new’ to this world, it isn’t ‘pro-abortion’.  It’s pro-choice. 

     

     

  • humanity

    Thanks for explaining Jennifer. After reading your post I researched statistics on how many abortions there are per year, why women get them, etc. and according to all the studies I found, 1% or so are because of rape. That is thousands of women a year. I can’t imagine being forced into that situation and it’s definitely a category of its own. I think it’s great that you stand up for victimized women.

     

    With the subject of rape aside, do you also stand up for women who kill their innocent fetuses for social reasons? Sadly that seems to be the majority of the reasons for abortions. :(

  • jennifer-starr

    Considering that we’re talking about 1 in 3 women here who will have abortions in their lifetime, that 1 % is still pretty sizeable. wouldn’t you say?  That being said, though, I still support the right of the woman to make her own reproductive decisions, whether that choice be to continue the pregnancy and raise the child, give the child up for adoption or to end her pregnancy and have an abortion.  Because, at the end of the day, I can’t think of anyone better qualified to make decisions about a pregnancy except for the woman who’s actually pregnant. 

  • prochoiceferret

    With the subject of rape aside, do you also stand up for women who kill their innocent fetuses for social reasons? Sadly that seems to be the majority of the reasons for abortions. :(

     

    Not coincidentally, that seems to be the majority of the reasons for having freedom, liberty, and the rights to privacy, bodily integrity, and self-determination, too. All those things are kind of pointless if you’re in a non-social context!

     

    Oh, and did you know that fetuses gestated from rape are also “innocent?” It’s good that you are able to see that there are more issues to consider than whether the fetus has done something wrong or not. All you have to do is apply that understanding to the non-rape case. After all, women have the right to control their own bodies, regardless of whatever a male may have done to them previously.

  • colleen

    With the subject of rape aside, do you also stand up for women who kill their innocent fetuses for social reasons?

     

    I believe that most of what you  characterize as “social reasons” is more accurately described as “cannot afford  a child”. The other set of “social reasons” women give for having an abortion are something like “I would lose my job/ability to finish school” and so on. You think having children you can’t afford to care for is responsible?

     

  • julie-watkins

    & a joint decision by my husband & I.

    My IUD failed. I do not believe I was irresponsible. Since we didn’t want children at that time and IUD didn’t work with my body, I then had my tubes tied (the “reversible” way). But we never changed our minds about children, so they stayed tied & I’m now in menopause.

    Though fetus was an accident, I disagree with you naming it “innocent”. It wasn’t a person — making a person talks a lot of flesh & blood taken from the mother’s body, which takes a medical toll, even if everything goes normal. I did not choose to give that gift. If society pressures me with expectations and laws, then it wouldn’t be a “gift” but an “obligation” — making women (& poor families) second class.

    For many reasons, this was the right choice for us.

  • jodi-jacobson

    Hi Gina and others commenting….

    I am just back (actually not yet) from a short vacation.  We have corrected and updated this piece.  The original article stated that Arizona was an outlier in using LMP in its 20-week bans and we have corrected the text to reflect that error.  It is also correct, obviously, that medical professionals use LMP as a gauge. Having been pregnant myself more than once, I am personally very familiar with this as you are and most of our readers.

    That, however, is not the point of the article, though I believe it was not originally not stated as clearly as it could have been.  Irrespective of what medical professionals do, it is very obvious that legislators are laying the groundwork for expanding the types of restrictions that can be imposed on women.  Legislating LMP is not the same as using a medical tool.  It creates precedents that can be used in other ways.  You only have to look at the case of “fetal homicide laws” now being used to put women in jail for mental illness and drug addiction to see this.  

    I have worked on law and policy for a very long time. I have seen what is “written” be used and interpreted in ways that are far more expansive than the simple meaning of the words.  Amanda argues–and I concur–that legislating things like “when you are pregnant” creates dangerous opportunities for misuse of law against women. These laws are not linear; they are expansive and in the hands of anti-choice fanatics and aggressive prosecutors are in fact extremely dangerous. This was and is the main point of the article, other corrections notwithstanding.

    Thanks very much for your comments.

     

    Jodi

  • humanity

    @Jennifer I agree 1% is sizable. My heart goes out to these women. They were wronged and I can’t even begin to imagine what these women go through. @ProChoiceFerret I think you put words in my mouth; I believe rape victims’ babies are just as innocent as other babies, and in this case just as victimized as their mother if aborted.

    But after reading the responses above, it’s obvious to me now that pro-abortion – which if you’re pro-choice, you’re for legalizing abortion so it’s the same thing right? – is not for this 1% that keeps getting the spotlight, but for all 100% of the reasons women kill their babies, and it saddens me that most of the reasons appear to be social/selfish. @Ferret I didn’t understand your response… do you think it’s okay to kill an innocent human in a social context? (vs non social?) @Colleen I can see the argument that it is irresponsible to raise a baby if you don’t have any money, but I don’t understand how that applies to having a baby. My question back to you is: do you think it’s responsible to kill a life? And is it more responsible to kill than than feel prepared to raise a baby? Even if an unprepared woman becomes a mother (and no one is forced into motherhood; there are so many options for where and by whom that baby could be raised… I personally can’t tell you how many couples I know who want to be parents very badly), how can quality of a person’s life even be comparable with having the chance to live? It’s not apples to apples – if it is, can someone explain that one to me? @Julie I am not judging your actions or anyone else’s opinions in this forum but am only asking questions to seek understanding. I don’t know what legally qualifies personhood, but I do know that fetuses are humans in prenatal form. They are living bodies. How else would you describe them? And how else would you describe abortion than killing that life?

    Anyway all, I really am not trying to judge or change minds today. Just trying to understand why people are okay with abortions, and in the process got tempted to express my own opinion on the subject. (Which is good! Are you not as glad as me that your mom gave you the chance to speak for myself by not killing you?) I guess I am particularly emotional right now because I am pregnant. Can you tell? :) I clicked a link to this article and almost had a conniption when I read it. My friend had posted because they didn’t know 20 weeks pregnant = 18 weeks of fetal life. (It’s a funny fact that doctors give you approximately 2 “free” weeks – which we also heard about for the first time at the beginning of my pregnancy – but it’s definitely not news to the medical world. :)) Okay, that’s enough! Maybe I should call it a day as it sounds like I’ve opened a can of worms and am only raising my blood pressure by arguing about this. Just know that, as clueless as I am to what the current law is and what states condone what, I – and my family – will always vote in favor of humanity.

  • ahunt

    “I – and my family – will always vote in favor of humanity.”

     

    Um…of which women are presumably a part. Lose the notion that women are nothing more than breeding stock for people wishing to adopt.

     

    Hey, I’m happy for you. You are joyfully pregnant, and looking forward to becoming a mother.

     

    However, just as women who use their infertility as a bludgeon are utterly contemptable…so too are women who use their own pregnancy as a rationale to deny other women their choices.

     

    Get it straight. Your pregnancy is your own…to manage as YOU see fit. Your condition does NOT under any circumstances entitle you to manage anyone else’s pregnancy. Are we clear?

  • humanity

    Hi ahunt: while it is definitely true that my pregnancy has made my beliefs a reality, I do not see in my post where you found a basis for your accusations. In fact I said that I am not judging other women’s actions or opinions; and that I am not trying to change anyone’s mind. And I have no idea where you came up with breeding stock. It sounds like you’re the one who needs to get it straight.

    If anyone would like to answer my actual questions and not put words in my mouth, I would appreciate it!

  • ahunt

    Spare me the indignation.  Guilt trips get snarky answers here.

     

    And again, ONE MORE TIME…the answer to your question is that we are okay with abortion because we trust women to make the best decision for themselves.

  • person-0

    Your opinions of women’s reasons are irrelevant. If they don’t wish to gestate, labor and deliver, that’s all the reason necessary. Whatever reasons are important to them are all that matter because only they are living their lives. They are autonomous beings fully capable of deciding what they will or will not do without input from outsiders. They owe no one anything and should be trusted to make their own decisions regardless of what others think.

     

    Shall we start telling you how you should be handling your pregnancy or are you capable of making your own decisions? Are you your own moral agent or are we? I’m sure we could offer lots of “advice” on what you should and shouldn’t be eating and drinking, how much you should exercise you should get, what medicines you can ingest, which tests you should have and which you should skip, how often you should have a checkup, etc. etc. and then of course, we can dictate your birth plan, lactation plan and postpartum care. And if you don’t do exactly what we want, we will call you names and try to make you feel like a terrible woman. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

  • freetobe

    from what I have lived through and seen in my 55 years of life so far. I have little respect for most humans until they prove  to me otherwise.

    I was raised Catholic until the age of 18 then I left.( I was adopted from a catholic foundling home.)  I still beleive in Jesus but NOT releigion.

    I too was totally against abortion because I had been adopted, until I found myself pregnant less than three months after my  first child was born. it was from somewhat forced sex- I call it that because if I had refused I would not have heard the end of it or would have either physically or emotionally been abused by my ex husband. I was also in suicidal post partum depression the severest form of postpartum depression. At that time noone even knew what that was and i was so ashamed of how I was feeling I could not even tell my doctor. i had also just lost my mother aquired the care of my older dad a new abusive husband and then a new baby all at once at age 23.

    Abortion was the only way i could manage at the time. i wanted to die myself and had no future with my new abusive husband. Therefore why bring another person into more abuse?  i thanked God for the relief I felt after it was over and yes had felt guilt as well but God forgives us if we ask for it.( please note my guilt came from my relgion only) i was also counseled by the abortion clinic before the procedure.

    Not everyone feels guilt! Most feel relief and I did too as well. the thing that bothered me the most was when i saw my baby and realized that she would never have a sibling. I was done with men and the whole prospect of having a “happy “marriage. I never remarried and am quite happy the way things are.

    I trust noone and what I have seen so called humans do to animals and other humans that are already born i feel women who are aborting are doing their fetus’s a favor. After all a mother really does know best.   I am not in favor of anyone or thing suffering. While yes it does make you stronger and lord knows I had my share ten times over. i still wonder this- Stronger for what? To survive more torture. I would not wish suffering in any form on my worst enemy.

     

  • crowepps

    “…it’s obvious to me now that pro-abortion – which if you’re pro-choice, you’re for legalizing abortion so it’s the same thing right?”

    You sound dishonest.

    Abortion is legal right now.

    ProChoice advocates trust individual women to make their own individual decision and do not have an opinion on whether that final decision should be completing the pregnancy and keeping their child, completing the pregnancy and surrendering for adoption, or aborting for whatever reason seems sufficient to them.

    NOBODY here advocates that women should have abortions and so nobody is pro-abortion and that means it is not “the same thing” at all.

    Your post is a mash-up of every baseless argument ever contained on an anti-abortion bumper sticker or hysterical ‘save the babies’ web site.  It comes across like an extra credit assignment for religious school.  You even managed to work in ‘selfish’ several times.

    You assert you’re pregnant?  I wish you the good luck of making it all the way through without serious complications and actually getting a live, healthy baby at the end, because that is NOT the guaranteed outcome.  Fetuses miscarry, fetuses are stillborn, women ruin their health, women die.  600 women died in this country last year from complications of pregnancy, I sincerely hope you aren’t on this year’s toll.

    “Are you not as glad as me that your mom gave you the chance to speak for myself by not killing you?”

    Do not ever use this grotesquely cruel argument ever again.

    Haven’t you heard of suicide?  Did you take into consideration for even a moment that your posts are being read by actual real people?  Have you ever thought about the fact that many people struggle through their lives because they didn’t share your privileges, and that your snark and smug willingness to torment them might just be the last straw?

    As a survivor of childhood abuse, there is nothing about my ‘mom’ or any chances she gave me that I am glad about.  Since, like many abuse survivors, I have struggled with depression my entire life, I would have much MUCH preferred to have been aborted.  Your chirpy attempt at being clever reminds me of my despair – because ideologues like you are always certain they are justified in making others suffer, just like my mother.

  • julie-watkins

     @Julie I am not judging your actions or anyone else’s opinions in this forum but am only asking questions to seek understanding. I don’t know what legally qualifies personhood, but I do know that fetuses are humans in prenatal form. They are living bodies. How else would you describe them? And how else would you describe abortion than killing that life?

    Of course fetuses are human, but they are not “babies” any more than a chicken egg is a chicken. To insist so is to disvalue the flesh and blood that is taken out of the woman to make the person. If you are seeking “understanding”, understand this: I am (was) not an incubator. It’s not my fault I was born a fertile female, that I like having sex, that my IUD failed. The worldview you live in is one where the social expectation is that pregnant women have an obligation to unplanned pregnancies because they are “killing persons” if they don’t. If (attempted) motherhood is an obligation not a choice then that is a worldview where women and poor people are considered second class. I won’t agree to that, nor will I reframe from naming people who do have that worldview and want to exert social pressure to enforce that worldview as being sexist and classist.

  • julie-watkins

    dup, please delete.

     

  • prochoiceferret

    I believe rape victims’ babies are just as innocent as other babies, and in this case just as victimized as their mother if aborted.

     

    And yet you seem to be okay with abortion in the case of pregnancy resulting from rape. Why is that? It’s not like there’s anything all that different about the fetus then.

     

    @Ferret I didn’t understand your response… do you think it’s okay to kill an innocent human in a social context? (vs non social?)

     

    Yes, as in self-defense—when non-lethal methods are insufficient to address the threat. This applies even if the person posing a threat is innocent.

     

    how can quality of a person’s life even be comparable with having the chance to live? It’s not apples to apples – if it is, can someone explain that one to me?

     

    Meet Bob. You’ve never met Bob before, and you’re not related to him in any way, but he’s out there. Bob needs a kidney. If Bob doesn’t get a kidney soon, he will die. As it happens, you, Ms. Humanity, are a perfect match. Please give one of your kidneys (you do have two, right?) to Bob, so that he can live.

     

    Wait, what’s that? You don’t want to donate a kidney? Why is that? Is the procedure inconvenient for you? Will having one less kidney affect your quality of life? None of those considerations are even comparable to Bob having a chance to live. It’s not apples to apples, nor oranges to oranges. So now that your objections have been rendered invalid, are you ready to give that kidney?

     

    I don’t know what legally qualifies personhood, but I do know that fetuses are humans in prenatal form. They are living bodies. How else would you describe them? 

     

    As fetuses, the same way medical professionals do. We like to use accurate terminology, rather than inaccurate, emotionally-laden terms that only muddy the discussion. (Note: “mud” is just a euphemism.)

     

    And how else would you describe abortion than killing that life?

     

    I would describe abortion as terminating a pregnancy. And given that the whole point of abortion is for a woman to no longer be pregnant, rather than satisfy one’s jollies to kill random things, I would say my description is more accurate than yours.

     

    Anyway all, I really am not trying to judge or change minds today.

     

    Good, because if you were, you’d be doing a lousy job of it!

     

    Are you not as glad as me that your mom gave you the chance to speak for myself by not killing you?

     

    No, I’m not as glad as you. I’m about as glad that my mom didn’t abort me as I am that my mom had sex with my dad on some random day some number of years ago, thus resulting in me. As in: Cool and all, but no big deal if they had decided they just wanted to get some sleep instead.

     

    You know what really makes me glad, however? That my mom wasn’t forced to have me. Because that way, I know that I was truly a wanted child. I’m so sorry if you were born unwanted….

     

    I guess I am particularly emotional right now because I am pregnant. Can you tell?

     

    Maybe you shouldn’t be posting poorly thought-out arguments on the Internet, then. Can you tell?

     

    Maybe I should call it a day as it sounds like I’ve opened a can of worms and am only raising my blood pressure by arguing about this.

     

    What a shame that playing an anti-choice naif on a reproductive-health Web site isn’t a walk in the park!

     

    Just know that, as clueless as I am to what the current law is and what states condone what, I – and my family – will always vote in favor of humanity.

     

    Well, I voted for Kodos.

  • bj-survivor

    Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about insensate clusters of barely differentiated human tissue or even more baby-like lumps of far more organized though still pretty much insensate human tissue. I still see that there are way too many children in foster and state care, as well as far too many abused and murdered children and I am convinced that there aren’t enough abortions, too little medically accurate sexuality education, and certainly not enough access to effective contraceptive methods.

     

    I would rather there be untold billions of abortions, both spontaneous and induced, than even one neglected or resented or malnourished or starved or belittled or beaten or thrown away or raped or murdered actual, born child. Like Jesus (and so very unlike “pro-lifers”) I want there to be less, not more, suffering in the world.

     

    Having doubt that you’re up to the task of creating and nurturing a new human being? By all means, please err on the side of caution and abort that pregnancy. I know that I would rather regret a decision than regret a child, but I also know that not everyone is me, not everyone thinks like me, which is why I would never in a million years seek to enshrine my deeply held convictions as law that must be shoved down everyone’s throats. I, unlike forced-birthers, truly regard women as moral agents who have every right to decide what happens to their bodies, their lives.

  • humanity

    I made myself avoid this site for 24 hours. I realize I am not popular here but am glad I posted. If anything maybe I shed some light on how one person sees things. I appreciate learning your views too despite being personally attacked. Whether you know it or not, each of you is a blessing and a gift to this world. We all are and we all deserve a chance to live, breathe and find our purpose in this world. Please know that I learned this through my own trials including depression and being taken advantage of. I am not trying to give a guilt trip but help some of you understand that I am not a ponytailed privileged girl writing an extra credit paper or out to make people feel bad. I simply, really and truly don’t understand how such advocacy for women stops at the womb. God knows us in the womb. At least that is what I believe and is what is stated in his scriptures. My kid will take her first breath in a few weeks and I can’t imagine the big guy being okay with me not giving her that chance.

    I do not agree that it is okay for us to kill our unborn kids. I will continue to equivalate it to killing born kids.

    However, I agree that God forgives!

    Thanks for letting me speak my mind, pro-choicers!

  • prochoiceferret

    I do not agree that it is okay for us to kill our unborn kids. I will continue to equivalate it to killing born kids.

     

    Considering that over 1 in 4 women have an abortion at some point in their lives, you must feel like you’re living among a bunch of Susan Smith clones! Murderer here, murderer there, murderers everywhere…

  • crowepps

    Yes, yes, we understood that you are incapable of empathizing with others, that your purpose in coming here was to explain to women twice and three times your age what womanhood “really means”, that you haven’t been open enough to learn even one thing while you were here because you reject anything that conflicts with your religious brainwashing, and that you will continue to cling to your false beliefs.

    I do think you could have foregone the purile little pat on the head about how we’re each a “blessing” and a “gift” like that’s supposed to change our WHOLE LIFE and make us feel all SPECIAL because, golly, YOU say it and God loves YOU bestest and therefore it must be so!11!  Your earlier misogynistic sneering about ‘abortion for social reasons’ and ‘selfishness’ makes it sound pretty insincere.

  • doberwoman

    These legislators should be ashamed of themselves. Now I am supposed to consider how everytime I am menstruating, I should look at it as a possibility of being pregrant?! This is almost comical if it weren’t that these legislators are serious. 
     

    The Republicans are supposed to be about less government but they are coming up with more ways to govern women’s reproductive system. I guess in their eyes, I am an UTERI.  I don’t see these legislators putting men in the  responsible guilt inducing role against them: Life begins with  men’s erections (Bill Maher) or Sperm is the other half of conception so condoms should be banned (everytime men uses a condom, they are throwing a life away).

    Arizona is moving backwards. I wouldn’t be surprised if they try to come up with a way to consider any women using contraception or who had an  abortion be viewed as a convicted felon therefore making them ineligible to vote.
     

  • mizzpesos

    I wouldn’t be as charitable to that poster. I’d call that poster “straight-up human garbage.”

    But I call all wingnut shorters who want to control my life that name. If we on the left banded together and prosecuted them for practicing Christianity, OH HOW THE FUR WOULD FLY!

  • mizzpesos

    There’s nothing to learn from a useless, brainwashed broodmare, who’s a dime a dozen, who prattles on about taking away women’s reproductive choices. The only thing you’ve proven is that any moron can get knocked up and shit out a kid – even you! Hell, junior high kids can do it nowadays. In fact, the lower a person’s IQ and educational level, the likelier she is to breed, which is another point you’ve handily proven.

    Cut the bullshit and fake condescention and go move to Texas or some other state where jingoism and religiosity trump science and rationality. Hopefully it will secede from the union soon – and the sooner, the better.

  • mizzpesos

    I’m not just ok with abortions, I LOVE abortions. The fewer humans, the better. There are already too many rotting clowns on this earth, and we don’t need any more.

    Do you think it would be cool if someone kicked you in the stomach or force-fed you abortifacients because they personally felt we have too many stupid people in the world already? No? Then it’s equally not ok for you to force other women to put or keep anything in their bodies they don’t want in there.

  • julie-watkins

    Wars cause much more environmental destruction than “too many people” ever could.

    If we stopped wars (rich people getting poor people to kill each other so war profiteers can get rich) and used the money for actual public good (education, infrastructure, enforcing anti-pollution and safety measuresmedical care, housing) then the population wouldn’t outrun technological advance.

    Citing overpopulation without mentioning wars & poison factories risks a world view that blames the 99% while leaving the 1% off the hook — which fits the agenda of the 1%.

  • mizzpesos

    The best solution is to let the Tea Party create its own country ruled by Biblical law. If the government is so terrible, let them set an example by accepting NO government services first. They need to practice what they preach, which is 100 percent self-sufficiency.

     

  • mizzpesos

    You have every right to practice your religion as you see fit. My Constitution gives me every right to be free from the edicts of your personal beliefs – and viewing a fetus as equivalent to (or in cases of women with health issues, more important than) a fully formed human being is YOUR PERSONAL RELIGIOUS BELIEF. It is not, however, mine, so I don’t care what you think of me for not sharing it, nor do I care whether you believe I’ll be forgiven or sent to “hell.” And best of all, I am under no LEGAL obligation to relegate myself to a second-class citizen simply because your PERSONAL RELIGION tells me I must.

    Respect is not mutual for us in this discussion. I have no respect for you, or your beliefs. I don’t care about you, I don’t care about your pregnancy, and I definitely don’t care about your spawn. But while you’re out there calling me selfish for supporting abortion – because without that choice I would DIE – I’ll be out there calling you selfish right back. I’m working and paying taxes (including a portion of property taxes) I won’t get back so your child can receive fully funded, free public education from grades K-12, and if it goes off to college, I’ll be subsidizing that, too. If you’re insured through your own workplace or a spouse’s, we’ll be paying higher healthcare premiums so you don’t have to cover the full cost of your birth and maternity care out of pocket. Or, if you’re low-income, all of us will be paying for your maternity care, as well as state health insurance for you and your child, and possibly WIC and food stamps, too.

    If you want to be truly self-sufficient, you’d better pay for every red cent of your child’s life yourself. That means paying for the delivery and every single visit to the pediatrician out of pocket, sending it to private school and college, and never, ever making use of any government program. Otherwise, you’re just as selfish as the rest of us. Welcome to collectivist society. We do the work to make your choice possible, while you want to take our choices away from us. You’re welcome. By the way, your religion, which is tax-exempt, mooches off the taxpayers. I’d be willing to accept women paying for their own abortions if all religious insitututions were taxed at the top marginal rate.

  • ankhorite

    @justmywords , thanks for reminding/educating folks that the Catholic Church did NOT always ban all abortions.

     

    This point was completely lost in the Rush Limbaugh – Sandra Fluke scandal, in which people purporting to represent the Church claimed the abortion ban went back “thousands of years,” when in fact it wasn’t really in place until the late 1800′s.

     

  • ankhorite

    @Crowepps, just a thank-you note for being so articulate.

     

    I’m worn out with answering those people.  You did it beautifully, and I have nothing to add but applause.

  • ankhorite

    @Doberwoman, LOVE your screen name!  Yay, Dobes!

     

    Arizona is attempting to become the Mississippi of the West.  And, under Republican Governor Jan Brewer, they’re succeeding.

     

    However, the state is now 46% Hispanic, and, to quote the civil rights movement of the 1960′s, “a change is gonna come” once every person gets a fair chance to vote.

     

  • ankhorite

    @ the poster who wants to be called “Humanity” who said “I love that you respect women so much, but I am confused as to when that respect begins. If it’s when her sex organs form, that happens way before 18 weeks of fetal life. An aborted female at that stage in fetal life will never have the chance to grow into a woman who can speak for her own rights.”

     

    I don’t think anyone else has addressed this point yet, sorry if I missed it.

    You are making the old “you horrible women want to abort pre-born women” argument.

    – A fetus is a fetus is a fetus, if you don’t happen to want to have a fetus inside you.  Gender:  irrelevant.

    – WHATEVER reason a woman has for an abortion is NONE of your business, including a gender preference.

    – Does it make any difference to you to know that some heritable diseases are carried only by one gender, and that a woman might choose what looks like a sex-selection abortion to you because she wants to avoid carrying a dead or dying fetus, or birthing a doomed child?  Particularly, in the latter case, if the care of that child for its brief life will mean depriving her existing children of food, housing, medical care or education?  Not every family has lobbyist Rick Santorum for a breadwinner, who spends over a million dollars a year on his youngest daughter, whose condition will result in very early mortality for her.  I’m happy for him that he can afford it.  Over 99% of families cannot.

    – Would it make a diff to you to know that some of the fetuses aborted for the reason above are male?

    – Do you SERIOUSLY want a girl-child born to a family which does not want her?  which, in some cultures, will inspire that family to starve her, sell her, or abandon her?  Or, in our culture, abuse or deprive her in (usually) other ways?

    There is no such thing as “pro-abortion” unless you’re talking about the covert agenda of so-called “pro-life” politicians who would HATE to lose their best fund-raising issue. Now that most of the nation sees gay marriage as a basic human right, where would these creeps be without abortion to yowl about?

    We are pro-choice.  We fight for the right to bear children if you want them.  We fight forced abortions, such as in China.  We fight for reproductive technologies such as in vitro to help infertile couples have children — something these phony “pro-life” politicians (and the insurance companies they whore for) are against.  We fight for the nutrition and health care children need.  We ALSO fight for nutrition for fetuses and pregnant women, through the WIC program (google it).  That is something that the Republican “pro-life” legislators do NOT do.  Even Rick Santorum voted against WIC — in other words, voted to take food out of the mouths of pregnant women, and nutrition out of the bloodstream of their fetuses.

  • ankhorite

    @ the woman calling herself “Humanity” who said “I – and my family – will always vote in favor of humanity.”

    No, you don’t.  You think women’s reasons to abort are generally “social/selfish,” by which you clearly mean frivolous, self-indulgent, etc.

    Where’s YOUR humanity?  Why can’t you understand that women often abort for the sake of THEIR families, families which cannot afford another mouth to feed, doctor, clothe, house, and educate?  Or that a woman may choose not to risk the medical trauma of birth and delivery for a child she cannot raise, knowing that this birth might prevent her from ever having another?  What if she is aborting now to preserve her fertility for later?

    I can imagine you thinking, “oh, how selfish, she should make room in her schedule!”  Well, if — heaven forbid — the daughter you may be carrying turns up pregnant at 11 or 12 — you may feel otherwise then.

    Meanwhile, enjoy your pregnancy and keep out of other women’s uteruses.  Good luck, hope you have a smooth and easy delivery, a healthy baby, and all the joy you are expecting — and the medical care, financial resources, and emotional support to make my first three hopes for you come true. And after all that, my final wish for you is that you develop some humanity and some compassion and realize that life is not that rosy for all of us, and it is not your place to judge another woman’s burdens.