The Political Battlefield of Late-Term Abortion

by Wesley J. Smith

Nancy Pelosi may think that the abattoir of a late-term-abortion clinic is ”sacred ground,” but polls show that most Americans oppose late term abortion. Indeed, regardless of one’s views on early-term abortion, if a woman needs to end her post-viability pregnancy for a significant health reason, I cannot understand why everyone doesn’t see that the proper approach — absent significant medical reasons — is to deliver the baby and care for the child.

But a significant number of pro -abortion advocates stand with Pelosi. As I point out in my current First Things column, a strong vein in their constitutional thinking now claims that any regulation of abortion denies women “equal citizen status,” in the words of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. If equal protection becomes the constitutional basis of the abortion license — as opposed to privacy or due process — it could mean that the abortion license will become absolute, allowing termination at any time, for any purpose. After all, that was the point of the Roe v. Wade/Doe v. Bolton joint rulings. It just didn’t turn out that way.

Meanwhile, the struggle to ban most late-term abortions has picked up steam in the Congress, where the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act would ban post-20-week abortions except to protect the physical health or life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest. The idea is that since science shows fetuses may feel pain at that point in the pregnancy, it would be cruel to permit them to be torn apart. Of course, the answer of the abortion-at-any-time crowd is to just anesthetize the fetuses before the abortion proceeds.

Expect the bill to be fought tooth and tong by the radical reproductive-rights crowd. They believe in an abortion right to the moment of birth — perhaps even “after-birth” abortion — and evidence of fetal pain, even if it became uncontroversial, isn’t going to talk them out of it.

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