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The Facts About Reproductive Health and Abortion

Politicians who oppose abortion often spread misinformation  — trying to manipulate voters in order to pursue their agenda of outlawing safe, legal abortion. Here’s how to spot the whoppers, and what to know when you hear them.

We Want to Stick With the Facts.

But politicians and activists who oppose abortion want to stigmatize abortion and demonize the people who have abortions — so we’ll pinpoint some of the key phrases they use. Statements with these phrases can leave anyone feeling confused, so we’re also including some facts that every voter needs to know.


1. “Infanticide” or
“Fourth-Term Abortion”

Abortion isn’t infanticide. Infanticide, and any kind of murder, is illegal.

Infanticide is the crime of killing an infant — something that doesn’t happen in medical care and is already illegal. Abortion is health care.

The way many politicians and anti-abortion groups characterize safe, legal abortion is completely inaccurate. If a woman is in labor with a viable fetus, she couldn’t and wouldn’t have an abortion. That suggestion is not only misleading, it’s callous

How This Misleads:

Politicians push deceptive terms such as “infanticide” and “fourth-term abortion,” along with the idea that a person who has already given birth can somehow get an abortion. That’s simply not how medical care works, and it’s irresponsible to imply that it is.

2. “Late-Term Abortion” and
“Abortion Until Birth”

These terms wrongly describe abortions later in pregnancy.

There’s no such thing as abortion at the moment of birth.

This is a made-up concept meant to stigmatize abortion and push an agenda to ban it altogether — an agenda that’s unpopular with the majority of Americans. The politicians who use these terms often push restriction after restriction, which delay abortions and make abortion difficult to access.

In a very small percentage of circumstances (just over 1%), people need an abortion later in pregnancy, at 21 weeks or later. People who seek such care often do so because of challenging circumstances, such as when something in the pregnancy has gone very wrong or a person’s life or health is in danger. Women and families in these situations face complicated decisions. They deserve compassion and support, not judgment — and they certainly don’t need politicians telling them what to do.

In other instances, a person may be pushed later into pregnancy before they can access an abortion because politicians have placed obstacles in the way of care — such as medically unnecessary restrictions, the discriminatory Hyde Amendment and the executive orders signed by governors such as Greg Abbott of Texas, which banned access to abortion at the beginning of the pandemic.

How This Misleads:

Over the medical community’s objections, politicians and foes of reproductive rights have used these inflammatory and offensive buzzwords in legislation, at political rallies, and even in televised government functions. 

President Trump and other politicians use these terms to create a false perception of abortion later in pregnancy to stir up outrage against all safe, legal abortions. In just one of many examples, Trump lied when he said the laws of some states “allow a baby to be ripped from the mother’s womb moments before birth.”

April's Story: One Woman's Experience of an Abortion at 21 Weeks April's Story: One Woman's Experience of an Abortion at 21 Weeks

At 18 weeks, April S. and her husband found out that their baby had lethal skeletal dysplasia.

Everything about a later termination is already so incredibly difficult — even just picking up the phone to make the appointment.  The 20-week ban adds another hurdle.  It’s just cruel.


3. “Never Medically Necessary”

Abortions can be medically necessary.

Lethal fetal diagnoses, as well as pregnancy complications, do happen — particularly later in pregnancy.

These can range from amniotic sac rupture and infection, placental abruption, and placenta accreta to severe preeclampsia. The truth is that pregnant people in these circumstances who don’t get abortions can die of blood loss, stroke, or septic shock. People with cancer or other chronic illnesses, or with ectopic pregnancies, may also need an abortion to survive.

How This Misleads:

Politicians deny the medical need for abortion in order to make abortion restrictions as harsh as possible, or to ban abortion outright. Proposed restrictions include bans on abortion later in pregnancy, as well as required waiting periods and mandatory ultrasounds. Politicians have even advanced legislation that would force doctors to re-implant an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus to “save” the fetus — a medically impossible procedure.

4. “Born Alive” or
“Attempted Abortion”

Abortions terminate pregnancies.

Just over 1% of abortions occur later in pregnancy.

Most of those are due to challenging circumstances, sometimes when the pregnancy has gone wrong and the pregnant person’s health or life is in danger. Patients and families in these situations deserve compassion and support, not judgment.

How This Misleads:

Abortion opponents like to equate safe, legal abortion with infanticide to portray abortion care as immoral (and illegal). Legislation that includes this language often threatens nurses and doctors who provide abortion later in pregnancy with felony charges and prison time.