So much of the language used by folks trying to ban abortion is meant to shame people who have abortions and make them feel like their decision is wrong or immoral. Take, for example, the phrase “late-term abortion.” It’s actually a completely made-up phrase that has no basis in medicine. It’s pure anti-abortion propaganda, intended to confuse people about when abortion happens.
A pregnancy is “full term” from 39-40 weeks, and “late term” at 41 weeks. Those are medical terms used by doctors. But anti-abortion rights activists use “late-term abortion” to describe abortions that happen at 15 or 20 weeks, or even earlier — deliberately equating an abortion halfway through pregnancy with a pregnancy ready for delivery. This isn’t an accident: It’s another lie they tell to scare people, spread misinformation, and shame pregnant people for the decisions we make about our own bodies.
Another inconvenient truth for lawmakers is that they’re the ones who created the environment in which more people need abortions later in pregnancy. Abortion bans make people travel out of state to get care and cause a backlog of patients at health centers, forcing people to delay their abortions. And other restrictions — like waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, parental notification laws, and laws prohibiting health insurance or Medicaid from covering abortion care — create even more barriers that lead to later abortions. People have to wait to gather the money they need for their care, wait for permission to get abortion, or literally just wait because the state forces them to take a time-out. One of the many reasons abortion needs to be legal at 15 and 20 weeks is specifically because abortion bans and other anti-abortion laws force people to wait longer than they want to for care.
Bottom line: “Late-term abortion” isn’t a thing, except in the imaginations of anti-abortion rights activists. Abortion is health care, and health care is personal. People deserve to be in charge of their own medical decisions throughout their pregnancy. Lawmakers who care more about control than health or personal freedom don’t deserve to make those decisions for you or anybody else.