Ever Since New York legislators gleefully celebrated the passage of what is euphemistically called the Reproductive Health Act last week, there’s been some disagreement from the Left with the characterization of the law by socially conservative news outlets that it allows unborn babies to be aborted for basically any reason up to birth. In fact, Snopes.com, the online fact-checking site, says that’s false. But is it?
The law provides three reasons why a licensed health care practitioner (the new law removes the requirement that it even be a doctor) may perform an abortion in New York:
- The mother is within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy;
- There is an absence of fetal viability;
- The abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s life or health
It is this third reason that Snopes and other abortion defenders have seized upon as a basis for arguing that the law somehow limits late term abortion. If they were honest, however, they would admit what everyone familiar with Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton has understood for 46 years: There is no practical time or medical limit to the abortion on demand regime created in 1973 by the U.S. Supreme Court in those two cases.
That’s because the “health of the mother” exception created in Roe, but explained in Doe, says this:
“We agree with the District Court … that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors –physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman.”
The Doe Court paid lip service to Roe v. Wade’s holding that “a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion is not absolute,” but then created a “health of the mother” exception so broad that it essentially “legalized abortion through all nine months of pregnancy.” For example, what abortion can’t be justified by claiming emotional or psychological stress? Or “we just don’t want a baby right now.” The 1973 rulings in Roe and Doe have created what is aptly called “abortion on demand” in the United States. Some state legislatures, and even the federal government, have been able to incrementally legislate such things as parental notification laws or bans on partial birth abortion, but none of those operate to ban abortion completely at any stage of pregnancy. Even states with late-term “bans” on abortion must include – because of Roe – an exception for the life and health of the mother.
New York’s law, using the fictitiously restrictive language of “health of the mother” that has a 46-year track record of enabling abortion on demand at any time through the ninth month of pregnancy, does not restrict abortion at all. The fact that Snopes and others attempt to make the argument anyway is either lazy legal scholarship, or a blatant act of deception.
Call it what it really is: abortion on demand.