“Even then, so-called ‘elective’ abortions after 16 weeks are rare…”

We hear this a lot from defenders of elective abortion. It’s not true.  Abortions in the second half of pregnancy are less common than first trimester abortions, sure, but not by any means rare. From my days working at a women’s clinic (that did not do abortions but referred women to abortionists on request) I can confirm that arranging for a woman to travel to Alberta (at the time no Manitoba OB did elective abortions after 18 weeks) was not all that unusual. And the number of strings that were pulled to help women abort at 17 weeks and 6 days was most impressive. If only medical staff and administrators showed such zeal hastening waits for angioplasties and hip replacements.

On the one hand, I think this argument is a bit of a red herring. Whether or not something should be permissible, legal or desirable has nothing to do with how often it happens. But I think a lot of people have no idea how common late abortions – well after viability – are in Canada.

And if it’s truly just fine to abort at any stage, for any reason, why do abortion rights activists assert that these are rare? The mantra Clinton made famous – that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare” – contains within it a clue to the moral issues involved in abortion. Why do you wish, President or Senator Clinton, that abortion be rare if all that is lost is a clump of cells with no intrinsic value? Many people who consider themselves pro-choice are much less comfortable with abortion than they think they are, and they sometimes realize this when they’re asked, or forced, to ponder why exactly it ought to be rare.

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Andrea adds: “Safe, legal and rare.” So far, they’re legal. Safe and rare? Not really. (Someone else quipped that first, and as soon as I remember who, I’ll give them credit.)

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Tanya adds: Safe. As opposed to unsafe? The excuse so many use to keep abortion legal is infact to keep it safe. However, the year before Roe v Wade, the US reported 39 deaths in conjunction with illegal abortion. Compare that with the 40 or so annual deaths related to Christmas tree fires, and the same logic should outlaw this yuletide tradition.

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