Enacting a 20-week-ban on abortion in the United States

A ban on abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization should be enacted, and such a ban should not include a rape or incest exception. Although it is perfectly understandable that women who become pregnant as a result of rape should not have to suffer through an unplanned pregnancy that was caused by an act beyond her control, rape and incest exceptions should not exist in laws that prohibit abortions because:

  • Abortion always kills an innocent human being
  • Rape-conceived pregnancies can usually be safely carried to term
  • Cases where rape-conceived pregnancies cannot be carried to term are already addressed through “life of the mother” exceptions and “health of the mother” exceptions to prohibitions on abortion
  • Women who do not want to take care of a rape-conceived children can give up their babies for adoption
  • Some women who become pregnant as a result of rape are actually unwilling to abort a rape-conceived pregnancy

In addition to the above reasons, most of the women who have been raped are aware that they have been raped, and these women can find out whether or not they became pregnant as a result of rape well before the 20th week of pregnancy through an ultrasound because a pregnancy will usually show up on an ultrasound by the 8th week of pregnancy.

The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would prohibit most abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization or after a gestational age of 22 weeks. Unborn children are possibly viable outside of the womb at the 20-week post-fertilization limit proposed under the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. In fact, Amillia Taylor was born at a gestational age of 21 weeks and 6 days and did survive being born that early. If Amillia Taylor could survive outside of the womb a day earlier than the 20-week post-fertilization limit proposed under the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, then other unborn children might be able to be saved if born at 20 weeks post-fertilization.

The United States Supreme Court had established the following trimester framework in the Roe v. Wade case:

  • During the first trimester of pregnancy, the abortion decision and the performance of the abortion must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician.
  • From approximately the end of the first trimester of pregnancy, the state can regulate abortions in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health in order to further its interest in protecting its interest in the health of the mother.
  • For the stage of the pregnancy subsequent to viability, the state can regulate and even go as far as prohibiting abortion, except where “necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother”, where “health of the mother” is defined as the “physical, emotional, psychological, [and] familial” well-being of the mother.

Since unborn children are possibly viable outside of the womb at the 20-week post-fertilization limit proposed under the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, the first part of the Roe trimester framework does not apply to abortions that would be prohibited under this act and the second and third parts of the Roe trimester framework are clearly applicable to abortions that would be prohibited under this proposed act.

Roe v. Wade has enabled legal abortion-on-demand in the United States for any reason during all nine months of pregnancy up until the moment of birth through the imposition of a “health of the mother” exception requirement in the Roe v. Wade trimester framework and through the broad definition of “health of the mother” in the Doe v. Bolton case. However, at least four of the United States Supreme Court justices that were involved in the final decision of the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases, including two justices that supported the final decision in both of these cases, did not intend for there to be a right to abortion-on-demand during all nine months of pregnancy.

Although the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act does provide exceptions for the life of the mother and for “the substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including  psychological or emotional conditions, of the pregnant women,” this proposed legislation does not explicitly include an exception for the health of the mother and this proposed legislation is probably unenforceable due to the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, except in the case of partial-birth abortions through the intact dilation and extraction technique. This legislation will probably be challenged in the federal courts if it is enacted because this legislation does not include an explicit, broad “health of the mother” exception, and also because there would be strong opposition to this legislation by the abortion industry.

The United States Supreme Court is likely to hear a case involving a law that prohibits abortions after 20-weeks post-fertilization. The United States Supreme Court should uphold such a law, and the United States Supreme Court should also rule that states can even prohibit abortions that are deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of mother after viability for the following reasons:

  • The bans on abortion after 20 weeks post-fertilization being proposed by the United States Congress and by some states recognize a governmental interest of protecting unborn children against fetal pain.
  • Unborn children are possibly viable outside of the womb at 20 weeks post-fertilization.
  • Abortions can pose a serious danger to the “physical, emotional, psychological, [and] familial” well-being of the mother, even in cases where an abortion is deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
  • Abortions performed for the purposes of preserving the life or health of the mother are sometimes ineffective in preserving the life or health of the mother.
  • The text of the United States Constitution does not distinguish 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 imposition of a “health of the exception” requirement in the Roe v. Wade trimester framework implies the existence of a constitutionally guaranteed right to health-preserving medical care that is not essential to preventing the death of a patient, even though such a right does not exist within the text of the United States Constitution.
  • Except in the case of abortion, the United States Supreme Court has never declared a constitutionally guaranteed right to health-preserving medical care that is not essential to preventing the death of a patient.
  • The United States Supreme Court imposed the requirement for a “health of the mother” exception in the Roe v. Wade decision without citing any basis in the United States Constitution for such a requirement.
  • Even though the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions had the effect of legalizing abortion on demand during all nine months of pregnancy for any reason, at least four of the United States Supreme Court justices involved in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, including two that supported these decisions, did not intend for these cases to create a right to abortion-on-demand during all nine months of pregnancy.
  • The governmental interests that enable the government to prohibit abortions after viability in cases where abortions are not necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother still exist in cases where abortions are necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
  • The majority of Americans believe that abortion-on-demand should be illegal after viability.

Even if Roe v. Wade is not completely reversed, I predict that the following decisions will be made in future cases before the United States Supreme Court:

  • States will be allowed to regulate any abortion procedure performed after the moment of implantation.
  • After viability, states will be allowed to prohibit abortions that are deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother in some circumstances.
  • States will eventually be allowed to prohibit abortions after viability in all circumstances, even when an abortion is deemed necessary for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
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