Last week the House passed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act which bans abortion after 20 weeks. Similar measures have been brought up in Congress before (2013 and 2015) but always faced the inevitability of a presidential veto. This time, the White House put out a statement signaling support of the bill:
— Susan B Anthony List (@SBAList) October 2, 2017
The statement in the 2nd paragraph caught the attention of the Washington Post’s fact checker. Could it really be true that “only 7 out of 198 nations allow elective abortions after 20 weeks?” The Post found that two different reports by groups that looked at the question, one by a pro-life group and one by a pro-abortion group, found the same thing: Only 7 nations allow abortion after 20 weeks:
There are 59 countries that allow abortion “without restriction as to reason,” or “elective,” or “abortion on demand.” These are countries where the letter of the federal law does not impose specific eligibility requirements for women…
Only seven of the 59 countries allow elective abortions after 20 weeks, the group found: Canada, China, Netherlands, North Korea, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.
You can see what that looks like on the map above (graphic created by the Washington Post). The U.S. is one of a small number of countries that allow this, a club that includes such paragons of civil rights as China, North Korea, and Vietnam. The Post concludes:
This statistic seemed dubious at first, because it seemed extreme for just seven countries out of 198 to allow elective abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. But upon further digging, the data back up the claim…
Further, what is telling that research from both sides of the reproductive rights debate confirm this figure. It’s not easy to boil down complex abortion laws in a cross-comparative manner like this, and there are some minor caveats associated with this talking point. Still, we did not find the caveats rise to the level of One Pinocchio.
We award the elusive Geppetto Checkmark when a factoid surprisingly turns out to be true, as in this case.
So the bottom line here is that the U.S. is already on the extreme end of abortion politics. A 20-week ban which has already been passed in about 17 states, would merely put us back in the mainstream of the world, including Europe, on this issue.