No, Abortion Is Not Like Buying a Car: Here Are 5 Reasons Why

The lawmakers of Missouri have been having a grand time this legislative session trying to see exactly how many abortion restrictions they can pass into law. With only one clinic in the entire state, they’ve had to come up with some truly original bills, including dual parental notification or mandatory quarterly clinic inspections.

One bill that isn’t original, however, is the law that would change the waiting period in the state from 24 hours to 72, a move that I have explained could result in closing the only provider left in Missouri. A person who has decided she wants to end her pregnancy isn’t inclined to spend an additional three days “reflecting” over her decision — she did that before she set the appointment. Instead, she will travel a little bit further, even if it is across the state border, and obtain an abortion with less hoops to jump through, and end her physical discomfort earlier.

While debating the 72 hour wait, bill sponsor Rep. Chuck Gatschenberger told a panel that he’s simply trying to help pregnant people make better decisions, and no “major decisions” should happen on the same days. To prove his point, he pointed to other decisions that take time and thought, like buying a car, or remodeling your living room.

“Even when I buy a new vehicle — this is my experience — I don’t go right in there and say, I want to buy that vehicle, and, you know, leave with it,” Gatschenberger, whose comments were recorded by Progress Missouri, said, according to Think Progress. ”I have to look at it, get information about it, maybe drive it, check prices. There’s lots of things I do going into a decision — whether that’s a car, whether that’s a house, whether that’s any major decision that I make in my life. Even carpeting. You know, I was just considering getting carpeting in my house. That process probably took a month… I wanted to be as informed as possible, and that’s what this bill is, having them get as much information as possible.”

Lovely. The thing is, having an abortion isn’t like buying a car. Here’s five reasons why:

1) A car doesnt get more expensive every week you wait to buy it. If you decide to buy a car, that car is going to remain at relatively the same price, whether you wait a few weeks or purchase it as soon as you see it. An abortion doesn’t work like that. The further a person progresses in the pregnancy, the more expensive the procedure will be once you are past the first trimester. It’s an increase that often affects those who are struggling to find the money to even obtain an abortion. Many have enough on hand only to find out that they are further along than they knew and now need additional money to end the pregnancy. And, unlike a car loan, odds are you aren’t going to find a bank willing to give you a loan to cover it.

2) There is more than one car dealership in the state. Imagine you decided to buy a car, but there was only one dealership in the entire state. Hopefully you have a car already that you are planning to trade in, so that three hours on the road isn’t as much of a hardship as it would be if you needed a ride, a rental, or a bus. But now you have to either go back home, or stay in town. You’ve already had to make arrangements to miss one day of work, or find someone to care for your children. How can you stay away that long, or make the trip again?

It’s a ludicrous scenario, though, because car dealerships are everywhere. That’s not true for abortion providers. Especially in Missouri, with its sole clinic, getting an abortion usually isn’t just driving conveniently down the street, or hit a few places to comparison shop. In many states your option is traveling to the clinic an hour away, or the clinic four hours away, and the deciding factor is who has the earliest availability for an appointment.

3) You dont get harassed at a car lot. If you had to walk in front of a massive protest to go check out a new vehicle, have people call you a murderer for your fuel emissions, thrust city transit maps into your hands and beg you not to enter the lot, would you still buy a car at that location, or would you find someplace else to go? Pregnant people don’t have that choice, however. They often run a gauntlet of outsiders, ranging from compassionate to angry, all intent on doing whatever they are legally allowed to do to ensure that you do not have an abortion. That sort of activity would have customers flocking out the door, but for a pregnant person who doesn’t want to be pregnant any longer, there simply isn’t any option but to move ahead. A waiting period makes that happen twice.

4) Your health isnt impacted waiting for a car. For some reason, lost in the entire pregnancy debate is the fact that the vast majority of those seeking a termination are in the first trimester and, as anyone who has ever been pregnant can tell you, the first trimester is an absolutely miserable period of time in a pregnancy. The nausea, the fatigue, the hormonal shifts that cause headaches and pain mean under the best of circumstances it is like two straight months of the flu. In its worst forms, it can be crippling. The vomiting can lead to dehydration and hospitalization. The headaches become debilitating migraines. Fatigue can make it impossible to hold a job, or care for family. Pregnancy hurts. It has a physical component that lawmakers completely ignore. When Gatschenberger allegedly waited to purchase his car, you can bet he didn’t have to spend that time hunched over a toilet, puking, or in the hospital on IV fluids.

5) A car isnt a legal right. And that’s the most important point. No one has a legal right to own a car. A pregnant person has a legal right to end that pregnancy. Unless that changes, abortion has absolutely nothing in common with any type of commerce, transaction, or any other purchasing decision that Gatschenberger chooses to callously compare it to.

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jerome S
Jerome S10 months ago


Jim V
Jim Ven10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Janice Thompson
Janice Thompson3 years ago

Government has no business i health care. They just need to see everyone has good coverage, nothing more.

Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald3 years ago

@ Mary Beth and those who - like her - missed the point: did you read the article at all??? There is ONE single clinic in the entire state of Missouri that provides abortion services. One. Anyone going into that clinic is going to have the run the gauntlet of anti-abortion protesters, find child care (the majority of women seeking abortions are not confused teenagers who don't know what it means, but grown women who are already mothers), arrange transportation, arrange time off work, and may have spent weeks trying to raise the money for the procedure in the first place.

Imagine going through the painful decision, and then working out all of these practicalities only to be told 'sorry, you have to wait three days and do it all over again, including getting past those shouting protesters.' And by the way, if you've miscalculated the timing, those three days could mean you no longer have enough money to pay for the abortion because it's now a more complicated and more dangerous procedure.

IOW, those 'reasonable' waiting periods to decide whether this is what you really want? Put actual, already living and breathing, human women - the majority of them mothers with children depending on them - at far greater risk than necessary.

All because you personally believe she'll have 'buyer's remorse' if she has an abortion because YOU have decided she didn't think it through if she came to a different decision than you think you would.

Christine Stewart

We need to change the culture of young people- NO SEX without contraception- young men need to respect their partner enough to wear a condom. Isn't it better to have sex with a condom than try to find an abortion provider?

Lynn C.
Lynn C3 years ago


Sue Matheson
Sue Matheson3 years ago


Mary Beth M.
MaryBeth M3 years ago

The car analogy is absurd as are most analogies and legislative attempts coming from the GOP and red states. If they backed off their ludicrous war on birth control, the need for abortions would decline significantly. That said, there is no reason not to wait 72 hours before terminating a human life. This bill is aimed at walk in clinics, not at life saving terminations based on medical conditions (which I recognize the GOP would restrict too). No one can guarantee that every woman walking into a clinic has seriously thought through the long term consequences of this decision. Possibly just entering the clinic and speaking with medical personnel will elicit questions and concerns not thought of beforehand. A 3 day period to consider all options is not unreasonable for a life altering decision, far more significant than buying anything. And personally, I find it reprehensible that my teen daughters need my permission to get their ears pierced but not for an abortion! Define for me, which procedure not only is more life impacting but has greater risk. We are incredibly stupid in so many ways.

Gerald L.
Gerald L3 years ago

Suba, I am starting to get it. Starved 9 year old boy weighs 29 lbs; Megan Huntsman arrested, Utah police find 7 dead babies in garage, 5 children drowned by mother! But as Freya H. stated; No woman ever had an abortion without agonizing over the decision beforehand - and probably afterwards as well.

This is what concerns me, the hardcore Cheerleading Team here never wants to talk about the emotional distress that MAY follow such a painful decision.

Burke, Theresa. Forbidden Grief. Springfield, IL: Acorn Books, 2002.
Deals with what is called “traumatic reenactment” as it pertains to women dealing with an abortion loss.

Healing for Your Soul: A Guide for Post-Abortion Fathers.
It is a gentle introduction to post-abortion healing for fathers, written by a priest psychologist with many years of experience in post-abortion healing .

Neither Do I Condemn You (Item #9906) Project Rachel: In the Heart of the Church (Item #0748) A Special Word to Women Who Have Had an Abortion, by E. Joanne Angelo

Marion Zerrenthin

The car analogy is stupid.
A woman that enters an abortion clinic has already made up her mind. It's not like she just found out that she is pregnant and had no time to think about it.
She shouldn't be forced to go back home and come back three days later. That's a form of harassment.