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kottke.org posts about abortion

Preemie lambs successfully grown to term in artificial wombs

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 25, 2017

Artificial Womb

Researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia have succeeded in gestating premature lambs in artificial wombs. The abstract from the paper in Nature Communications:

In the developed world, extreme prematurity is the leading cause of neonatal mortality and morbidity due to a combination of organ immaturity and iatrogenic injury. Until now, efforts to extend gestation using extracorporeal systems have achieved limited success. Here we report the development of a system that incorporates a pumpless oxygenator circuit connected to the fetus of a lamb via an umbilical cord interface that is maintained within a closed ‘amniotic fluid’ circuit that closely reproduces the environment of the womb. We show that fetal lambs that are developmentally equivalent to the extreme premature human infant can be physiologically supported in this extra-uterine device for up to 4 weeks. Lambs on support maintain stable haemodynamics, have normal blood gas and oxygenation parameters and maintain patency of the fetal circulation. With appropriate nutritional support, lambs on the system demonstrate normal somatic growth, lung maturation and brain growth and myelination.

The Atlantic’s Olga Khazan translates what that might mean for human babies born prematurely.

One reason preterm birth is so dangerous is that, for an underweight baby, the first few breaths of air halt the development of the lungs. “Infants that are currently born and supported in a neonatal intensive care unit with gas-based ventilation demonstrate an arrest of lung development,” Partridge says, “which manifests in a long-term, severe restriction of lung function.”

With the artificial womb, the infant would continue “breathing” through the umbilical cord as its floats in amniotic fluid, which would flow into and out of the bag. Using its tiny heart, the fetus would pump its own blood through its umbilical cord and into an oxygenator, where the blood would pick up oxygen and return it to the fetus-much like with a normal placenta. In addition to boosting lung growth, the amniotic fluid would protect the baby from infections and support the development of the intestines.

If this does work for humans, there’s a possibility that at some point using artificial wombs may be safer (or just preferable for some people) than women carrying babies to term…which would have an interesting effect on childbirth (to say the least). And as Khazan mentions, there are potential implications related to abortion rights:

If they ever materialize, artificial wombs may stir concerns among pro-choice advocates, since the devices could push the point of viability for human fetuses even lower. That might encourage even more states to curtail abortions after, say, 20 weeks’ gestation. But speaking with reporters Monday, the Philadelphia researchers emphasized they don’t intend to expand the bounds of life before the 23rd gestational week. Before that point, fetuses are too fragile even for the artificial wombs.

Update: There’s a short video clip of the lamb in the artificial womb as well:

We Work Remotely

Harrowing illegal abortion stories from before Roe v. Wade

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2017

Before the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, most women seeking abortions in the US had to get them illegally. Illegal abortions were often unsafe & painful, and many women died, were injured, or were sexually assaulted by the men performing the procedures. In this video, three women who had abortions before 1973 and a woman who worked at a Brooklyn hospital in that era described their experiences.

“He said, ‘I’m not going to give you any anesthetic’ and he said ‘If you scream, they will hear you.’”

That’s how Connie described the illegal abortion she received in 1953 when she was 16 years old. Now a retired teacher, mother and grandmother, Connie said that after she received the abortion, the man who performed the procedure proceeded to sexually assault her as she lay bleeding on the table.

John Oliver takes on crazy US abortion laws

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 22, 2016

On the most recent episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver argues against many US states’ anti-abortion laws. This was super funny and also made me really angry.

Let’s Just Say It: Women Matter More Than Fetuses Do

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 14, 2014

In The New Republic, Rebecca Traister says when talking about abortion, the rights of the mother should trump those of the fetus.

To me, abortion belongs to the same category as the early Cesarean I will need to undergo because of previous surgeries. That is to say, it is a crucial medical option, a cornerstone in women’s reproductive health care. And during pregnancy, should some medical, economic, or emotional circumstance have caused my fate to be weighed against that of my baby, I believe that my rights, my health, my consciousness, and my obligations to others — including to my toddler daughter — outweigh the rights of the unborn human inside me.

(via @mulegirl)

The abortion choice: not easy, not sorry

posted by Jason Kottke   Oct 15, 2014

In the November issue of Elle, Laurie Abraham talks about the fear, pressure, regret, and misconceptions related to how we think about abortion in America, written through the lens of her own experiences.

In several meetings at work in which this essay was discussed, I noticed that none of the other editors in the room, all of them pro-choice, could bring themselves to utter the word abortion; it was “Laurie’s pro piece,” or her “memoir.” I know that my colleagues, many of whom are my friends, were just trying to be kind when they referred to my “reproductive rights” story. The truth is, I felt uncomfortable saying it out loud too. Abortion is a conversational third rail, women’s dirtiest dirty laundry, to mix metaphors. Because the other thing about living in a political culture where a single-cell zygote is constantly being called a “person” is that there is a penumbra of shame surrounding abortion. For myself, however, I wonder: Am I really ashamed — and, if so, what is it exactly that I’m ashamed of?

The book Abraham references throughout, Katha Pollitt’s Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights sounds really interesting. (via @atotalmonet)

Why Does New York Perform So Many Abortions Per Person?

posted by Choire Sicha   Jan 18, 2008

Though its abortion rate fell 13%, California still leads the nation by far in the number of abortions, with more than 208,000 in 2005. But that looks like it’s solely due to population.

New York came in second, with more than 155,000. And while New York has around 53% of the population that California does, it has only 25% or so fewer abortions than California. (I’m doing math with lots of round numbers here.)

California has 13 million more people than Texas, and Texas has 4 million more people than New York—but Texas has a bit more than half the number of abortions of New York.

Similarly, Florida has just a million fewer people than New York, but Florida has only about 60% of the number of abortions that New York does. I can understand why there might be fewer abortions in the south—but why more abortions in New York per person than elsewhere? (Uh, if I’m doing math right.) What gives?

A personal experience with and a decision

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2007

A personal experience with and a decision on the abortion issue. “I think about all those meddling politicians that would want to interject themselves into everything that just happened to me, interject themselves between me, my wife, and her doctors.”

Planned Parenthood clinic on Indian lands

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 23, 2006

President of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation, Cecilia Fire Thunder, says:

I will personally establish a Planned Parenthood clinic on my own land which is within the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation where the State of South Dakota has absolutely no jurisdiction.

(via bb)

In the last two years, 83% of the

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 22, 2006

In the last two years, 83% of the pieces about abortion on the NY Times op-ed page have been written by men.

Abortion manual for the women of South Dakota

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 26, 2006

In reaction to the South Dakota Senate passing an abortion ban bill, a woman named Molly has posted an abortion manual for the women of South Dakota:

In the 1960s and early 1970s, when abortions were illegal in many places and expensive to get, an organization called Jane stepped up to the plate in the Chicago area. Jane initially hired an abortion doctor, but later they did the abortions themselves. They lost only one patient in 13,000 — a lower death rate than that of giving live birth. The biggest obstacle they had, though, was the fact that until years into the operation, they thought of abortion as something only a doctor could do, something only the most trained specialist could perform without endangering the life of the woman.

They were deceived — much like you have probably been deceived. An abortion, especially for an early pregnancy, is a relatively easy procedure to perform. And while I know, women of South Dakota, that you never asked for this, now is the time to learn how it is done. There is no reason you should be beholden to doctors — especially in a state where doctors have been refusing to perform them, forcing the state’s only abortion clinic to fly doctors in from elsewhere.

(via cyn-c)

Killing female fetuses in the womb is

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 21, 2006

Killing female fetuses in the womb is becoming more of a problem in Punjab, India. “In the last one year in [Dhanduha village], against 12 boys only three girls were born, and in the last five years, 34 baby boys were born as against only 18 girls. A sex ratio of just 529:1000!” (via 3qd)

“It’s time for the abortion-rights movement to

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 27, 2006

It’s time for the abortion-rights movement to declare war on abortion.

A pair of Boston economists is challenging

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2005

A pair of Boston economists is challenging Steven Levitt’s claim that the legalization of abortion significantly contributed to the crime rates of the 80s and 90s.

You can watch the entire program of

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 01, 2005

You can watch the entire program of Frontline’s The Last Abortion Clinic online. “With states across the US passing regulations limiting access to abortion, does Roe v. Wade still matter?”

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 19, 2005

Planned Parenthood in Southeastern Pennsylvania is running a unique pledge drive. The idea is that you pledge an amount of money for each anti-abortion protestor that shows up outside of the PP health center. “We will place a sign outside the health center that tracks pledges and makes protesters fully aware that their actions are benefiting PPSP”. That’s genius. (via freak)

March of the Penguins has become a

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 13, 2005

March of the Penguins has become a favorite for conservative moviegoers, who cite it as making a good case for monogomy, intelligent design, and a pro-life stance on abortion. I wonder if liberals watch the film and come out advocating universal health care…all those dead penguin babies could have been saved with proper medical care.