Abortion law in America is often misunderstood. Organizations that promote abortion often misrepresent current law by inferring that abortion is only legal in the first three months of pregnancy. However, in America, abortion is totally legal throughout the entire pregnancy for any reason as decided by Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton in 1973. In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey freed states to pursue legislation such as parental involvement, informed consent, fetal homicide, and other types of protective laws. In 2007, Gonzales v. Carhart marked the first restriction on a particular abortion procedure since the 1973 Roe v. Wade court abomination by outlawing partial-birth abortion (PBA).
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Roe v. Wade (1973)
Roe v. Wade overturned all state laws banning abortion when the Supreme Court manufactured a constitutional right to abortion based on a contrived right to personal privacy (although such right to privacy is never explicitly mentioned in the Constitution). Roe v. Wade also robbed the unborn baby of personhood by arbitrarily determining that a fetus is not a person but a “potential life” and does not have a constitutional right to life of his/her own.
Roe determined a woman’s privacy is most necessary in the first trimester and that states may not regulate abortion for any reason. During the second trimester, the state may regulate abortion only to protect the health of the woman. During the third trimester, the state may regulate or prohibit abortion to prevent the death of the mother.
Doe v. Bolton (1973)
Doe v. Bolton catastrophically modified Roe v. Wade by ruling that the right to abortion could not be limited by the state if abortion was sought for maternal health reasons. The Court then defined health as “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient.” This health exception expanded the right to abortion throughout the entire pregnancy for any reason, thereby striking down the few legal protections left in place by Roe.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
The Casey ruling restored some authority to the states by allowing them to restrict abortion according to the state’s best interest. Since then, many states now require a waiting period between seeking and obtaining an abortion, mandate that doctors offer detailed medical information before the abortion, and protect women’s health by holding abortion clinics to the same standards as other medical facilities.
Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)
Stenberg declared that state bans of partial-birth abortion are unconstitutional. U.S. Congress has passed a federal ban three times, and many states had passed similar bans—all of which were rendered too broad and therefore unconstitutional under Stenberg. (The Carhart ruling was the one to outlaw PBA.)
Gonzales v. Carhart (2007)
On April 18, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (with a 5-4 decision), outlawing this barbaric procedure. The PBA Ban Act passed in both the U.S. House and Senate in 1996 and 1997 and was twice vetoed by President Clinton (once on Easter Sunday). In June 2000, the previous PBA Ban Act (which Pro-Lifers were still pushing in Congress) was declared illegal in the Stenberg v. Carhart Supreme Court decision. The new, revised ban more clearly noted that the child is almost completely delivered, distinguishing PBA from other legal abortion procedures. This ban was enacted in 2003 and then enjoined by three separate federal district court rulings that rendered it unconstitutional because the ban did not include a health exception.
Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, wrote, “The Act proscribes a method of abortion in which a fetus is killed just inches before completion of the birth process… Congress determined that the abortion methods it proscribed had a ‘disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant.’” The majority ruled that a general ban on the method is permissible and does not violate the general “abortion right” enunciated in past decisions such as Roe v. Wade (1973) and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).