Let’s Get Real: The Truth About Abortion & The Heartbeat Bills

We need to TALK. And some of you are going to get pretty angry, but please, hear me out. We’re here to chat about abortion legislation, because it affects us all, whether you like it or not. If you’re riding on the coattails of the pro-life movement, it’s likely for one of the following reasons:

A) you’re not entirely aware of exactly what abortion constitutes or why people would have one

B) you feel as though your religious beliefs validate the need for legal regulation of abortion

Disclaimer One: no, I have never had an abortion. I’m not sure if I ever would or not. And yes, I was raised Roman Catholic. That being said, let me tell you why restrictive abortion legislation is a death sentence looming over women’s equality.

First, let’s establish our working definition of abortion. For many years (and still in some cases), abortion was used to refer to any expulsion of a fetus or embryo from the uterus before it was considered viable; miscarriages were referred to “spontaneous abortions” regularly until the term was changed for various social and historical reasons we don’t have time to unpack (although I will link an article here if you’re interested, because it is a fascinating read). So, for our purposes, “abortion” from here on out refers to a medically induced abortion with the intention of electively ending pregnancy.

What you need to know: According to the CDC in 2015, 91.1% of abortions were performed at 13 weeks or less. 7.6% were performed at 14-20 weeks, and 1.3% were performed at 21 weeks or more gestation.

HOWEVER: Most women do not find out they’re pregnant until they are four to seven weeks pregnant, and that’s still considered to be early; some women don’t know until they’re nearing the end of their first trimester. Morning sickness doesn’t even usually begin until week 6.

Let’s say you have an irregular period to start with, and you don’t start experiencing any heavy symptoms until week 6, when you start throwing up and feeling “off”. You’ve been stressed at work and think you might have come down with a bug, so you wait a week to see if it passes, and when it doesn’t, you make a doctor’s appointment, where you will presumably find out you’re pregnant. Well, I hope you’re ready to be a mom, because you’re now 7.5-8 weeks pregnant, and if you try to get an abortion, you’ll be sent to prison or executed.

Yeah. That’s what I said.

Let’s first discuss Georgia’s Heartbeat Bill, HB-481, which was just signed into law, effective January 2020. This bill is one of the most restrictive to exist. In the state of Georgia, abortion is effectively banned after six weeks of pregnancy- aka, when doctors can usually detect a heartbeat for the first time via transvaginal ultrasound (if it’s a standard ultrasound, that number will likely be closer to 7-8 weeks, and in fact, some healthcare providers won’t look for a heartbeat until then. Also too late for an abortion.)

A reminder that six weeks of pregnancy is about the equivalent of a two week late period, which anyone with a uterus knows is not unusual. Reasons for a late period include stress, change in diet, change in exercise, change in hormones, undiagnosed medical condition, trauma, and the list goes on. So, as per the example above, if you don’t find out you’re pregnant until over halfway through your first trimester, as is common, and you decide you need an abortion, that is now illegal.

Women who seek out illegal abortions can be tried and convicted for second-degree murder, which is punishable by 10-30 years in prison or by death. How “pro-life” is that? 

Wait, there’s more. Women who miscarry can be interrogated while prosecutors try to determine if she induced her own miscarriage. If it’s decided that she did, we’re looking again at second-degree murder. In the middle of a miscarriage, a horribly traumatic, painful, agonizing experience, the police will show up and interrogate you to decide whether or not they think you should go to prison for it.

Think they should just leave Georgia? Guess again. “If a Georgia resident plans to travel elsewhere to obtain an abortion, she may be charged with conspiracy to commit murder…an individual who helps a woman plan her trip to get an out-of-state abortion, or transports her to the clinic, may also be charged with conspiracy.” (Cited here).So, we know what abortion is. Women may seek abortions for many reasons: financial, safety, circumstancial, health, etc. It is the general consensus of the pro-choice community that it is every woman’s own business if and why she seeks an abortion. If you’re pro-life, keep reading.

Let’s discuss Ohio’s Heartbeat Bill, which is HB-182. This bill specifically seeks to ban insurance companies from covering abortion services. The below quote is taken from the linked article above.

“The bill would ban nontherapeutic abortions that include ‘drugs or devices used to prevent the implantation of a fertilized ovum.’

And Becker says the bill also speaks to coverage of ectopic or tubal pregnancies where the fertilized egg attaches outside of the womb.

‘Part of that treatment would be removing that embryo from the fallopian tube and reinserting it in the uterus so that is defined as not an abortion under this bill,’ Becker explains.

‘That doesn’t exist in the realm of treatment for ectopic pregnancy. You can’t just re-implant. It’s not a medical thing,’ says Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio.”

One more time: You cannot “re-implant” an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus and begins to grow. Obviously, this is not sustainable, and will eventually result in a number of things, mainly hemorrhaging, a ruptured fallopian tube (presuming that is where it’s attached, as it commonly does), and death. Yes, this will kill you. And medically, you cannot “implant” an ectopic pregnancy. That procedure does not exist.

This bill in Ohio will also target birth control. It plays on the commonly used [re: scientifically inaccurate] idea that birth control is an abortifacient, or a drug that causes abortion. Conception and abortifacients are not the same thing, as anyone with a basic understanding of reproductive health will tell you. But when the bill says “anything that stops a fertilized egg from implanting”…and the idea of birth control is to prevent pregnancy…which is when a fertilized egg is implanted in the uterus…you see where this is going.

One last very, very important point. Abortion and pregnancy decisions are between a woman and her doctor. The law has no place in it. Friends and family have no place in it. People on the street or passing by have no place in it. It is an incredibly personal, emotional decision, and it is nobody’s business besides that woman and the healthcare professional she trusts.

You do not have to want an abortion, or like abortions, or agree with abortions to be pro-choice. You just have to agree that your body is your own business, and pregnancy is too dangerous and full of consequence to force on an unwilling human being. Women still die from pregnancy complications today. Georgia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country, and that will only get worse with this law.

If you identify with the pro-life movement, but you think a woman’s full, established life is worth less than her unborn fetus, you are not pro-life. 

If you identify with the pro-life movement, but you support a law punishing women who get abortions or have miscarriages with decades in prison or the death penalty, you are not pro-life.

If you have read all of the facts, if you still think this law is a good idea, you are not pro-life. You are anti-women. 

If you ARE pro-life because you care about life and the value and sanctity of it, then speak out against these laws! Support universal healthcare, and birth control, and education, and welfare. Take in foster children and adopt. Support things that actually contribute to quality of life.

If you’re a Christian, you’ll know that Jesus would tell you to stop judging everyone else. He’d tell you not to throw stones unless you’re free from sin. Understand that in America, we have something called separation of church and state, which means that your religious beliefs cannot dictate the laws that govern another person and their freedoms. Your religious beliefs can dictate how you vote for things that increase quality of life for people who are living, and that help to effectively minimize unwanted pregnancies, and I sincerely hope you ask yourself “What Would Jesus Do,” and support those values I stated in the paragraph above.

Now. I know this was long. I know this was heavy. I know this was necessary. This is a direct attack on women’s bodily autonomy. We are headed for a dark place, one only seen from behind white bonnets in the oppressive world of a Margaret Atwood novel. Act. Speak. Get angry. Stop caring about being too loud, being too outspoken, making people too uncomfortable. We do not arrive at change without work, and nothing ever got accomplished from being too afraid to speak.

“Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” -Maggie Kuhn

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu

featured image: here

DISCLAIMER: All opinions posted here are solely my own, all research done solely to the effect to speaking out on my personal blog. This post and my opinions are not affiliated with or on behalf of any groups, organizations, or companies. This is an opinion-based piece, although it does seek to inform. It should not be mistaken as a journlistic source, although I have done my best to back up my opinions with hard facts.