BLOGNPR Does PR for Third-Trimester Abortions

By Michael Farris, Jr. Posted on: | May 08, 2019

We’ve been fed the line about “safe, legal, and rare” abortions before, but of course, that lasted up until the main talking point became about a “woman’s right” to unrestricted abortions at all times.

Now that third-trimester abortions are being pushed, NPR is here to assure us that third-trimester abortions are “rare” with the article “Abortion In The Third Trimester: A Rare Decision Now In The Political Spotlight.” Strangely enough, the article ends up doing more harm than good to third-trimester abortions.

The article starts out with a sympathetic story of a woman who ended up getting an abortion after 31 weeks. The couple was told the baby’s brain had not developed properly and that the baby would have seizures 70 percent of the time. Upon delivery, the doctors would have to resuscitate the baby, because it was likely she would seize to death. (Note that the article says “she” instead of “it.”)

From the article:

She still tears up when she talks about that diagnosis and the difficult decisions that surrounded it. Fearing a short and painful life for their baby, Weinstein and her husband chose to travel to Boulder, Colo., to end the pregnancy, at one of the few clinics in the country that offer third-trimester abortions.

Weinstein has been speaking publicly about her experience for years. But she decided to tell her story again recently, amid renewed national debate over decisions like hers.

"I just don't understand why and how this is so front and center in the national debate," Weinstein said. "I would have given anything to have been able to help our baby live if she could have lived. But she was going to be incapable of that."

Later on, the article quotes an abortionist who operates the facility where the woman went for the abortion. "These are tragic situations, and there's a tremendous sense of pain and loss and anguish for the woman and their family to end the pregnancy. So this is not something they want to do. They want to have a baby; they don't want to have an abortion."

To NPR’s credit, it does give a counter-argument from the pro-life side: “If any other family member had a terminal diagnosis, there's no other circumstance where we would say, ‘You know what, we should just kill them now; they don't have a chance for a meaningful life,’” said Dr. Ingrid Skop, an OB-GYN with the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “And yet we do this with a fetus with a terminal diagnosis.”

However, it’s easy to see the ideological bent of this article. It sets up with stories of women who face undoubtedly tough situations and tries to show us that these third-trimester abortions are a sort of last resort. It also refers to pro-life people as “anti-abortion-rights” and “abortion-rights opponents.” The only time “pro-life” appears is in a quote from a pro-life person and in the name of the organization above.

NPR also tries to avoid any ethical red flags by assuring its audience that a small percentage of abortions take the lives of babies 28 weeks and older—as if relative rarity is meant to be a talking point in favor of lifting restrictions.

In a bizarre twist, the article concludes with a glimpse into the future if third-trimester abortions are legalized across the board. Here’s the full anecdote:

Whatever the circumstances surrounding the decision, women seeking the procedure in the late second or third trimester have few options, said Jen Villavicencio, an OB-GYN and fellow with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

"She can't just show up at any clinic and decide to get an abortion. She's moving through tons and tons of barriers and hoops to be able to do this," Villavicencio said.

That was true for Beth Vial, a college student from Portland, Ore., who didn't learn she was pregnant until she was about 26 weeks along, in the summer of 2017. "I just [burst] out crying. I didn't believe them because I was told that wasn't a possibility for me," she said.

Vial has some health issues — including a condition that disrupts her menstrual cycles — which can make conception unlikely and a pregnancy harder to diagnose. Doctors in Portland told her she was too far along for an abortion there.

Vial was 22 at the time. She had recently ended her relationship and said she was sure she did not want to continue the pregnancy.

"I was already having a tough time in my life in a lot of other ways and it just felt like one more thing I really couldn't bear, or provide for, and I was panicked, I guess," Vial said.

Vial found a clinic in New Mexico that told her they would end her pregnancy up until 28 weeks — the beginning of the third trimester.

She scrambled, with the help of family, friends and a nonprofit that helps women pay for abortions, to pull together the fee of more than $10,000.

"[There were] a lot of people telling me how they felt about my situation without me asking — friends, family, strangers," Vial said. "I mean, you tell someone that you're seven months pregnant and having an abortion, they've got some things to say."

"People I thought were my friends made it clear to me that they disapproved," she said. "And that's fine. It wasn't changing my mind."

Did you see anywhere in that section that could tangentially be used to justify late-term abortions? It’s a lot harder to be critical of an abortion when a baby is expected to die soon after, but in the passage above, it’s just a young woman with emotional distress—a situation which plainly cannot be justified, especially in light of story after story of mothers who are glad their baby survived in spite of emotional distress (not to mention scores of parents looking to adopt). This anecdote seems positioned to support an argument that more women would be getting late-term abortions if only those stuffy politicians would let them.

Of course, with a $10,000 price tag, I’m sure just about any abortionist would be all too happy to see the restrictions lifted.

Michael Farris, Jr.

Legal Content Manager

Michael Farris, Jr., serves as Legal Content Manager for Alliance Defending Freedom and is a Virginia-born Idaho convert.

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