Most Americans think that abortions after the first trimester are illegal, but that’s not true. Thanks to rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court, a pregnant woman can get an abortion at any time through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason. The window below summarizes how the Court built its machinery of death. Click anywhere inside the window to cycle through the cases:
That’s the short version. Here’s a bit more detail if you’re curious.
In Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court ruled a Connecticut law prohibiting contraceptive use was unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment’s implied “right to privacy” enjoyed by married couples in the home.
Eisenstadt v. Baird extended Griswold’s reasoning and held that a Massachusetts law prohibiting distribution of contraceptives and contraceptive information was an unconstitutional invasion of the privacy of unmarried people, and unfairly treated them differently from married people.
Roe v. Wade expanded the “right to privacy” to include a “right to abortion,” which overturned a Texas abortion ban statute. Roe established the infamous trimester framework: in the first trimester, there were no abortion restrictions of any kind; in the second trimester, states could only limit abortions in ways that protected the mother’s health; in the third trimester, states could supposedly ban abortion.
In Doe v. Bolton, a case handed down on the same day as Roe, the Court expanded the right to abortion by striking down a Georgia statute which prohibited abortion unless the mother’s life was in danger, the preborn child was severely deformed, or the preborn child was the product of rape. In striking down Georgia’s abortion statute, the Doe court required that all abortion statutes include a “health of the mother” exception. The factors to be considered in determining “health risk” involved “physical, emotional, psychological, and familial factors, as well as the woman’s age.”
Obviously, any woman can use this enormous loophole to get an abortion at any point in her pregnancy. All she has to do is claim that the thought of motherhood is depressing, or that she isn’t ready to enlarge her family, or that she’s too old to bear another child, or … well, you see the point. Always remember Doe v. Bolton and its all-encompassing “health exception.” It’s what opened the door to abortion on demand.
Nineteen years later, Planned Parenthood v. Casey did away with Roe‘s trimesters and concentrated on viability as the key issue, with the majority opinion stating, “We reject the trimester framework, which we do not consider to be part of the essential holding of Roe.” Casey struck down most of a complex Pennsylvania abortion statute, and created an “undue burden” test for balancing a state’s interest in protecting the preborn against a mother’s wish to abort her child. Under this test, any state regulation that “has the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion of a nonviable fetus” is an unconstitutional “undue burden” on a woman’s right to seek an abortion. Most significantly, though, the Casey decision left the “health exception” requirement untouched, so abortion on demand was preserved. Silence can be deadly when a court refuses to undo injustice.
Most recently, Stenberg v. Carhart held that a Nebraska law criminalizing partial-birth abortions was unconstitutional for two reasons: 1) it placed an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to an abortion because the ban was supposedly too vague and could therefore be stretched to ban other types of abortion; and 2) it lacked a Doe-style “health of the mother” exception. Again, abortion on demand remained sacrosanct, much to the delight of pro-abortion radicals.
So there you have it. Any woman in America can get an abortion at any time in her pregnancy, for any reason. Spread the word, and let’s puncture the ignorance of our fellow Americans. It’d be a worthy step toward protecting the most vulnerable human beings on Earth.