Since being brought up by moderator Chris Matthews at the third and final presidential debate, late-term abortions have been back in the news, and many women's rights advocates are beyond exasperated over how much false information is still being circulated. A compassionate, reasonable person might wonder, after reading countless first-person stories about late-term abortions, how to help the women who need such procedures, because terminating a wanted pregnancy is not only heart-wrenching, it's often nearly impossible to navigate amid today's increasingly anti-choice legislation.
Romper recently published one such story, which, like so many others, began with a family excited to add a child to their home, only to learn that something was terribly wrong. At 18 weeks gestation, the Hupprich family learned that their baby had a life-threatening, incurable heart condition, and even if carried to term, their daughter's short life would be one of unfathomable suffering. At 23 weeks, they chose to mercifully terminate the pregnancy, but because of the Hyde Amendment, the father's military insurance wouldn't cover the procedure, and the military hospital wouldn't perform it. The doctors wouldn't even refer the family to a facility that would help them, and in the end, they had to travel more than 250 miles to have the pregnancy ended by a stranger. We owe grieving parents so much better than that. Here's how to help.
Vote For Leaders Who Care About Women
As far as the president goes, you know exactly who I'm talking about. One of them said, "This is one of the worst possible choices that any woman and her family has to make. And I do not believe the government should be making it." The other said that women who have abortions should be punished. (He has since back peddled on that comment.)
But don't discount the down-ticket votes, the mid-term elections, and local leaders. The president isn't a dictator; he/she can only do so much. Governors can (and do) enact sweeping abortion restrictions in their states, and Congress votes on federal laws that threaten abortion rights all the time. It's vitally important to elect a president who will appoint a pro-choice judge to the Supreme Court, but it's equally important to get back in that voting booth in 2018 and make sure that the House and Senate have her back.
Trust Women With Their Own Health
Pop quiz: who knows more about late-term abortion, a woman who's actually had one, or a man posting pictures of dismembered fetuses on Twitter? If you said the woman, you are right, and boy, do I wish the whole world was made up of people more like you. And it could be. All it takes is for you to learn the facts, and then share them. Facts like the phrase "partial-birth abortion" is a scare tactic made up by the anti-choice movement. Or that absolutely nobody is getting abortions in the ninth month. Or that when a woman does get an abortion after the 20th week, it's not because she was too busy partying to fit it into her schedule earlier, it's because her pregnancy is literally killing her or her baby. Type "I had a late-term abortion" into Google, and read a few stories. Then share them. When you hear someone spouting nonsense at Thanksgiving or the PTA meeting, speak up and correct them.
Give What You Can
If you have the time, volunteer at your local Planned Parenthood. Strong-willed supporters can serve as escorts, accompanying patients past protesters, but you're uncomfortable with that, there are less emotionally charged volunteer positions like community outreach and administrative work. If you don't have the time, give money. Planned Parenthood and many other clinics base their fees on a sliding scale, but the money has to come from somewhere. If you can't swing a donation right now, sign up for Amazon Smile and add your local chapter as your charity of choice. Prices stay the same, and Amazon will donate a portion of your purchase proceeds.
If you're lucky enough to have deeper pockets, consider donating to a local abortion fund. The National Network of Abortion Funds is a good place to start. Abortions cost hundreds, even thousands of dollars, and the price climbs as the pregnancy progresses. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a second-trimester abortion costs, on average, $854, and some women reported paying as much as $3,500. And remember that doctor's fees aren't the only the costs associated with abortion; thanks to clinic closures due to legal restrictions, many women need to travel far from home for treatment, and that means gas money or bus fare, and sometimes even a hotel room, if there's a waiting period. Some local abortion funds also ask for volunteers to provide transportation or a safe place to stay the night.
Late-term abortion is often tragic for a woman to go through, but together, we can make it hurt a little less.