Another survey suggested that “once women suspect pregnancy, most of them who seek an abortion act fairly quickly.” In fact, most women — even those who obtained abortions within the first six weeks of pregnancy — would have preferred to have their abortions earlier than they did. The most common reason for delaying was difficulty in making the arrangements, which is connected to having difficulties obtaining money for the procedure. Just 10 percent of women who would have preferred to have had their abortions earlier said the delay was due to religious or moral concerns.

Abortion rights groups are struggling to expand their message from “pro-choice” — which they say no longer resonates with voters as it once did — to more broadly encompass women’s health and economic concerns. The movement needs such recalibration precisely because it was drawn into a moral debate about the fetus’s hypothetical future rather than the woman’s immediate and tangible future. Once these groups locked themselves into a discussion of “choice,” terminating a pregnancy became an option rather than a necessity. Pro-choice groups would be a lot stronger, more effective and more in sync with the women they represent if they backed away from the defensive “difficult decision” posture.