The Doe v. Bolton decision enabled abortion to be legal all 9 months of the pregnancy within the United States by giving pregnant women the right to an abortion after viability if necessary to preserve the life or the health of the mother. The Doe v. Bolton decision resulted from flaws in the arguments used to arrive at the final ruling in that case and the misrepresentation of the facts of Mary Doe’s story.
The argument that abortion is safer than childbirth was used in the Doe v. Bolton case in order to legalize abortion past the point of viability, but abortions being performed at abortion clinics in the United States are often more dangerous than childbirth. Some women who had undergone an abortion at an abortion clinic have suffered serious health complications as a result of an abortion. There have been cases where abortion patients have been rushed to the hospital from an abortion clinic due to the complications of an abortion, and there are even cases where women have died from the complications of an abortion. Many post-abortive women have suffered complications from an abortion that they would not have suffered if their pregnancies were carried to term.
It was argued in Doe v. Bolton that Mary Doe “had been advised that an abortion could be performed on her with less danger to her health than if she gave birth to the child she was carrying.” First, some doctors lie to their patients and falsely claim that it is safer to have an abortion than to give birth, even in cases where it is clear that the mother can safely carry the pregnancy to term. Second, Sandra Cano, who was Mary Doe in the Doe v. Bolton case, ended up carrying the pregnancy that was in question in the Doe v. Bolton case to term without any serious danger to her life or her health. Furthermore, an abortion always involves the risk of serious health complications, even in cases where the abortion procedure has the potential to preserve the life or health of the mother.
Justice Harry Blackmun said the following the in Doe v. Bolton case: “Because her [Mary Doe’s] application [to have an abortion] was denied, she was forced either to relinquish ‘her right to decide when and how many children she will bear’ or to seek an abortion that was illegal under the Georgia statutes,” but this statement is false for several reasons. First, Mary Doe also had the options of giving up her baby for adoption after birth and seeking an abortion in another state where it was legal. Second, Mary Doe could have prevented the pregnancy that was in question in the Doe v. Bolton case by completely abstaining from sexual activity. Third, the denial of Mary Doe’s application to undergo an abortion did not completely deprive her of the “right to decide when and how many children she will bear” because she is capable of preventing future pregnancies by either completely abstaining from sexual intercourse or undergoing a surgical sterilization.
Prior to the final ruling in the Doe v. Bolton case, Georgia state law required that certain conditions be met for an abortion to be legal in that state. The conditions that had to be met for an abortion to be legal in Georgia prior to the final ruling in Doe v. Bolton include the following:
- The pregnancy would either endanger the pregnant woman’s life or health, the fetus would likely be born with a serious defect, or the pregnancy is the result of rape.
- The abortion procedure could only be performed on a pregnant woman who was a resident of the state of Georgia.
- The abortion procedure must be performed in a hospital that was accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals.
- The abortion procedure must be approved by the hospital staff abortion committee.
- The performing physician’s judgment must be confirmed by independent examinations of the patient by two other licensed physicians.
The above requirements on abortion in the state of Georgia were struck down by the United States Supreme Court in the Doe v. Bolton case. Even though the United States Supreme Court considered the above restrictions to be unconstitutional in Doe v. Bolton, these restrictions are clearly reasonable and should not have been declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The requirement that the performing physician’s judgment be confirmed by other physicians is clearly reasonable when the procedure in question is likely to pose a serious danger to the patient’s health or likely to have grave irreversible consequences because an error in a physician’s judgment can have serious consequences in this case. Since an abortion can pose a serious danger to the health of the mother and is likely to have the irreversible consequence of the death of an unborn child, this restriction is clearly reasonable. The government has a legitimate interest in protecting the health of pregnant women, and this restriction is clearly consistent with this governmental interest. Furthermore, a patient should have a legal right to be protected from the harm that results from the bad faith conduct of physicians, and the restrictions provided under Georgia’s law seek to protect this right.
The Doe v. Bolton ruling must be reversed, even if there is still support for legal abortion in the United States, for several reasons. First, the Doe v. Bolton ruling has forced states to keep abortions legal in cases where there is no actual medical necessity for an abortion. Second, the Doe v. Bolton ruling struck down restrictions on the practice of medicine that are clearly reasonable, including legitimate restrictions that are intended to protect a patient from the harm caused by errors in physician’s judgment and the bad faith conduct of physicians. Third, the United States Supreme Court might apply the Doe v. Bolton decision in a future case to strike down similar restrictions on medical procedures other than abortion unless the Doe v. Bolton decision is reversed. Fourth, the restrictions on abortion that were struck down by the United States Supreme Court were not explicitly contrary to the United States Constitution, but were determined to be unconstitutional by United States Supreme Court justices in Doe v. Bolton. Last, the final ruling of the Doe v. Bolton case resulted from false facts used in the arguments to support the final ruling in Doe v. Bolton, the final ruling in the Roe v. Wade case, and a misinterpretation of constitutional law by the U.S. Supreme Court justices in that case.