Suppose it were possible to engineer a permanent national deal (it’s not, but just consider it as a thought experiment) wherein in exchange for a strictly enforced ban on post-viability abortions that didn’t involve direct threats to the life of the mother, we’d also start treating all forms of contraception and pre-viability abortions not only as legal, but as medical procedures that would be publicly funded just like other medical procedures, under normal (not prohibitive) inspection and regulatory regimes? I suspect a large number of pro-choice folk would go for that kind of deal, which isn’t that different from the situation in much of Europe. It would reflect the fact that most late-term abortions happen not because some bad girl has had sex and now finds motherhood inconvenient, but because she hasn’t had meaningful access to contraception, Plan B, or early-term abortions.
But would any antichoice activists go along with it? No. Because they don’t really care about late-term abortions other than as a lever to move public opinion away from legalized abortion generally.My gripe here is that neither "some bad girl has had sex and now finds motherhood inconvenient" nor "she hasn't had meaningful access to contraception, Plan B, or early-term abortions" are the the root cause for most late-term abortions.
Just use your common sense. To carry a fetus to 26 weeks, you have endured first trimester morning sickness and other sickness, significant weight gain, increased fatigue, and myriad other discomforts. For crying out loud, if that's not evidence that someone is trying to have a kid, I don't know what is.
What's more, current constitutional law already allows states to put significant restrictions on late-term abortions, which they certainly do. Let's go all the way back to Roe v Wade itself (hang in there, legal pedants, we're getting to you):
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 [ban—ed.], abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the motherLegal pedants will note that Roe's standards have been superseded by Planned Parenthood v Casey, which allows states even more leeway in enacting abortion-restricting legislation. As interpreted by current members of the Court, even if a regulation is arbitrary, not-medically sound, and amounts to a de facto ban on late-term abortions, it might still pass constitutional muster.
Esquire's lengthy profile of Colorado late-term abortion provider Warren Hernn.
At the same time that advances in medicine have pushed fetal viability earlier and earlier, other advances have improved our ability to detect fetal defects. Some of these abnormalities cannot be detected until later in the pregnancy. To have the legislature substitute its judgement for those of the parents and medical professionals is to consign them to the potentially much more emotionally painful experience of giving birth to a severely deformed child and having it die within the first few years of its life.