Second trimester abortion provision: breaking the silence and changing the discourse

Reprod Health Matters. 2008 May;16(31 Suppl):74-81. doi: 10.1016/S0968-8080(08)31396-2.


How do abortion providers determine how late in pregnancy they will provide abortion services? While law, training and socio-political factors likely play a part, this essay considers additional factors, including: personal and psychological aspects, visceral responses to the fetus and fetal parts at later gestations, feelings that second trimester abortion is violent, and ethical concerns with second trimester abortion. Providers may censor themselves with respect to these issues, fearing that honest acknowledgement of difficult aspects may be dangerous to the pro-choice movement; that is, such acknowledgements could appear to legitimise the anti-abortion stance that second trimester abortion is gruesome and morally unacceptable. I argue that this silence is harmful to providers, the pro-choice movement and the women who need abortion services. I make the case for pro-choice discourse that is honest about the nature of abortion procedures and uses this honesty to strengthen abortion care, including second trimester abortion.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced* / ethics
  • Abortion, Induced* / methods
  • Abortion, Induced* / psychology
  • Abortion, Induced* / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Physicians / psychology*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second