Late Term Confusion

News & Politics

Time and time again I am struck by how little people know about abortion law and practice in the U.S. This includes most people with firm opinions on abortion. For example, earlier this week I noticed one right-wing blog after another celebrating the end of "late-term abortions," by which they obviously mean abortion of a viable fetus, presumably for frivolous reasons. Example:

Most Americans, even those who are pro-choice, understand how sick this procedure was. If a late term pregnancy was so harmful to the mother's health, then the mother should just deliver the baby and give the baby a chance to survive. But this procedure wasn't really about saving the life of the mother. It was about killing an unwanted baby. ...
... Some lefties are angry at Justice Kennedy, claiming that he's abandoned them, and now they're lamenting the fact that killing a late term unborn baby by sucking its brains out is no longer legal. Of course, they disguise partial birth abortion as "women's rights," which is a bunch of hooey.
Here's a feminist whose first comment was "We're f***ed." Sure, lady, if you mean that you can't go to an abortionist when you're 6+ months pregnant and have your unborn baby almost completely delivered except for his head and have his brains sucked out while he's still alive because you just don't feel like being pregnant any longer, then yes, I suppose you're f***ed. Be sure to check out the comments on this feminist's blog as well. These wacko women are beside themselves about the fact that they can't kill their babies in this manner any longer.
But elective late-term abortions were already illegal in most states. Roe v. Wade allows states to ban abortions once the fetus has reached the gestation age at which it is potentially viable, about 23 weeks[*], except when the life and health of the mother are at risk. There are laws on the books in most states to that effect. Some of the states that don't have such laws in effect are those which tried to enact a law without the "life and health" exception, and the law got tangled up in court challenges.

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