In the Alabama legislature, Rep. Mary Sue McClurkin gave this hilariously ignorant rationale for TRAP (Targeted Regulations for Abortion Providers) laws:
“When a physician removes a child from a woman, that is the largest organ in a body,” McClurkin said in an interview Thursday. “That’s a big thing. That’s a big surgery. You don’t have any other organs in your body that are bigger than that.”
If they were performing C-sections in these clinics, her concern would be legitimate. That’s a pretty big surgery with a maternal mortality rate way, way higher than your typical first-trimester abortion.
Even a full-term fetus takes up a lot less space than its mother’s skin or blood. This is the sort of thing we learn in 7th grade Biology. A pre-viable fetus—in the development range at which the overwhelming majority of abortions are performed—is still smaller than a grown woman’s liver (approx. 3 pounds) or either lung (approx. 2.4 pounds). A first-trimester embryo—which is what we’re still dealing with in most of these procedures—is considerably smaller than either of my kidneys.
As a justification for placing needlessly burdensome requirements on abortion providers, this is incandescently unrelated to reality.
All that said, it’s a much more level-headed characterization of pregnancy than, say, talking about the fetus as a separate person. If a fetus is an organ in a woman’s body, then personhood is a nonsensical idea. If it’s an organ, then surely there should be no moral objections to the woman having it removed before it gets big enough to push the other organs around. Thanks, Rep. McClurkin! Join the pro-choice side! We have vibrators and cocktails!