Opponents of abortion use language to shame people who have abortions — to make them feel as if their decision is wrong or immoral. Take, for example, the made-up phrase “late-term abortion.” There is no such thing as a late-term abortion. It has no basis in medicine and is pure anti-abortion propaganda, crafted to confuse people about when abortion happens.
A pregnancy reaches “full term” at 39-40 weeks, and “late term” at 41 weeks. Those are medical terms used by doctors. But anti-abortion rights activists deploy “late-term abortion” to mislabel abortions at 15 or 20 weeks, or even earlier — deliberately equating an abortion halfway through pregnancy with a pregnancy ready for delivery.
This is no accident: it’s yet another lurid lie told to scare people, spread disinformation, and shame pregnant people for the decisions they make about their own bodies. See also this despicable example, from an anti-abortion rights lawmaker:
The truth about lawmakers like this? They create the conditions that force people to need abortions later in pregnancy. Abortion bans make people travel out of state to get care — causing backlogs of patients at health centers in states where abortion remains legal, and forcing people to delay their abortions.
Other restrictions — such as waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, parental notification laws, and laws that bar health insurance or Medicaid from covering abortion — create even more barriers that delay pregnant people’s access to abortion care.
Gathering the money needed to pay for an abortion, traveling to and from an abortion appointment — sometimes hundreds of miles — and paying for things like child care can take time. These lawmakers add further delays by passing laws forcing some pregnant people to wait a certain amount of time before getting their abortion. Abortion needs to be legal at 15 and 20 weeks specifically because bans and other anti-abortion restrictions force people to wait longer than they want for care.
The way we talk about health matters, especially when abortion-rights opponents base restrictions and bans on harmful, misleading language. That’s why the authors of the Associated Press Stylebook — a bible for journalists and others who seek to describe the world accurately — urges reporters to stop writing and saying the phrase “late-term abortion.”
Bottom line: “Late-term abortion” isn’t a thing, except in the imaginations of abortion opponents. 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 controlling you than they care about your health and personal freedom should not make personal decisions for you or anybody else.