Monday, March 04, 2013

Amanda Marcotte's late-term abortion vs. rape conundrum

In a piece for the RH Reality Check, Amanda Marcotte argues that pregnancy from rape "is very common" and that women seeking abortions who are pregnant due to rape are frequent occurrences. 

Here are her statistics, which I won't argue with:
Pregnancy from rape is very common, and no amount of right-wing wishful thinking will change that fact. Pregnancy resulting from rape was estimated to be around 32,000 cases a year from a longitudinal study conducted in 1996. About half of those surveyed had an abortion, putting their estimates at 16,000 abortions needed a year. Guttmacher Institute's more recent statistics (which were collected differently) indicate that about 1 percent of women getting abortions were raped, which would put the number of rape-related pregnancies at around 12,000. This is not a small number......

The more conservative numbers would suggest a woman gets pregnant by rape every 43 minutes in this country, assuming half of them don't get abortions. That means 230 women a week in this country need to have abortions to end a pregnancy caused by.
So 12,000 abortions or 1% of all U.S. abortions is not a small number in Marcotte's opinion. least when it comes to abortions performed on women who were raped.  When it comes to late-term abortions, Marcotte has been singing a completely different tune for years.  Here's what Marcotte has to say about late-term abortions and their frequency.

In the American Prospect:
The noise might lead most people to think late-term abortions are far more common than they are, but only 1.5 percent of abortions occur after 20 weeks, and the incidence goes down dramatically each additional week into a pregnancy.
In Slate:
This just goes double for the late term abortions that Bachmann was discussing when she allowed that states should have a right to legalize them. Only1.5 percent of abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy, and most of those are done because of fetal indicators or maternal health problems.
At Alternet:
Anti-abortion propaganda tends to focus on late term fetuses and even pictures of babies and small children, falsely implying that what’s evacuated during your typical abortion is basically the same as a baby. They shouldn’t be able to get away with this, but instead should acknowledge that nine out of ten abortions take place in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. 

The RH Reality Check also has a history of downplaying the frequency of late-term abortions and saying they're rare.  Here's a Jodi Jacobson "fact-sheet" on them. 
Late-term abortions are very rare.  About one percent of all abortions performed in the United States occur after 21 weeks.  There are different definitions of what constitutes a "late term abortion," but most definitions refer to abortions at or after 24 weeks or in the third trimester.
So are 12,000-18,000 abortions a year a rare occurrence or a frequent one?

For abortion advocates, that apparently depends on if you're talking about abortions performed on women who were raped (very common) or late-term abortions (very rare). 

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