Late-term abortion should be illegal without exception in the United States

Late-term abortion should be illegal without exception in the United States, even if a physician determines that an abortion is necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother, for the following reasons:

  • Late-term abortions are performed at a stage in which the unborn child is usually viable outside of the womb.
  • Late-term abortions are always performed with the intention of causing the death of an unborn child.
  • The vast majority of late-term abortions are performed for the purposes of getting rid of unborn children who are unwanted by their mothers.
  • Unborn children who are viable outside of the womb are able to feel pain and late-term abortion is very painful for the unborn child who is being aborted.
  • There is the risk that an unborn child will be born alive if a late-term abortion fails to kill the unborn child, and a child who survives a failed abortion can suffer irreversible harm as a result of the failed abortion.
  • Late-term abortions can seriously harm the health of the mother, and there have been cases where women have died from late-term abortions.
  • Most of the women who are considering an abortion are only willing to have an abortion if abortion is legal and readily available.
  • Most pregnant women are unwilling to end a planned pregnancy involving an wanted unborn child through an abortion simply because the life or health of the mother is in danger.
  • Pregnancies that are at or past the stage at which the unborn child is viable outside of the womb can be ended by means that ordinarily result in live birth, such as by Caesarean section delivery or induced childbirth.

In the final ruling of the Roe v. Wade case on January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court had ruled that “For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.” In addition, the same United States Supreme Court Justices also legalized abortion-on-demand during all nine months of pregnancy by broadly defining the health of the mother as “physical, emotional, psychological, and familial” well-being of the mother in the Doe v. Bolton case, which was decided on the same day as Roe v. Wade.

Despite what the United States Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, a prohibition on late-term abortion in cases where such an abortion is deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother should be constitutionally permissible for the following reasons:

  • The governmental interests that enable the government to prohibit late-term abortions in cases where such abortions are not necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother continue to exist in cases where a late-term abortion is deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
  • The text of the United States Constitution does not make any kind of distinction between abortions that are necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother and abortions that are not necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
  • The United States Supreme Court had already decided that a prohibition on abortion after viability is constitutionally permissible in cases where such an abortion is not necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother in the Roe v. Wade case.
  • In the Roe v. Wade case, the United States Supreme Court imposed the requirement of a “life or health of the mother exception” to bans on abortion after viability without citing any constitutional justification for such a requirement.
  • In the Gonzales v. Carhart case, which was decided on April 18, 2007, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the prohibition of partial-birth abortion by the intact dilation and extraction technique under the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is constitutional, even though this law does not include a health of the mother exception.
  • Various legitimate governmental interests justify prohibiting late-term abortions, even in circumstances where such late-term abortions are deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother, including the following:
    • A legitimate interest in protecting the “potentiality of human life.”
    • A legitimate interest in protecting women against the harm to the health of the mother that might result from a late-term abortion.
    • A legitimate interest in preventing deaths of pregnant women that might result from late-term abortions.
    • A legitimate interest in preventing abortions that are medically unnecessary.
    • A legitimate interest in protecting pregnant women against serious errors in medical judgment that might lead to an abortion or might result in harm to the mother or her unborn child.
    • A legitimate interest in protecting unborn children against the irreversible harm that might result if they are born alive as a result of a failed abortion.
    • A legitimate interest in protecting unborn children against the pain that they might feel if they are killed by a late-term abortion.
    • A legitimate interest in deterring the commission of infanticide.
    • In the case of minors who become pregnant as a result of sexual abuse, a legitimate interest in preventing the cover-up of the sexual abuse.

The United States Supreme Court should uphold prohibitions on late-term abortion, even in cases where the prohibitions extend to late-term abortions that are deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Upholding prohibitions on late-term abortion, even where the bans extend to cases where an abortion is deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother, will have positive consequences for American society.

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