No, Total Abortion Bans Do not Turn Women into Broodmares

Jennifer R. Povey
5 min readAug 4, 2022
Broodmare and foal in Iceland. Photo by author

…no breeder would treat broodmares like that.

Some of the abortion bans being put forward in red states allow abortion only in the case of a full blown medical emergency. You have to be actually dying.

People are saying this is treating women like broodmares.

I’d like to set the record straight.

This is treating women worse than any responsible breeder treats broodmares.

One of the “rules” of breeding horses is that the mare is more important than the fetus. This is even the case if it is a recipient mare carrying an embryo that is genetically the offspring of a high quality sports horse (this has become common because a mare’s best reproductive years are also her best competing years).

People are cautioned to think carefully before breeding a beloved mare.

The Standard of Care for Broodmares

Before breeding a mare, responsible owners have her examined by a reproductive vet. This is to ascertain that everything looks to be structurally sound and working properly. Does the mare have two healthy ovaries? Is the uterus in good condition? Is her pelvis well-designed for foaling? C-sections are seldom performed in horses due to the high risk and the fact that equine labor is so short. You want them to have a nice healthy birth canal.

Some breeding operations will put a mare on Regumate and then cease it. Regumate is the equine equivalent of the pill. Most mares will reliably come into heat a few days after Regumate is ceased, which allows for better timing of breeding.

The ideal standard of care is a transrectal ultrasound (you flinch, but you can’t do an ultrasound from outside the body on an animal this large) at 14 to 16 days after covering to determine whether the mare is pregnant and also to look for twins.

Twin pregnancies are extremely dangerous in horses. In most cases the mare will resorb one or both twins, but if she doesn’t then the best outcome is two unhealthy, weak foals that will need a lot of care. This is also the rarest outcome…far more common is a dangerous late term miscarriage, at least one dead foal or, ya know, three dead animals…

Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.