When I first heard, in the 1990’s, that abortion was legal through all nine months of pregnancy, I couldn’t believe it. If that were true, why would it not be common knowledge? Why would there be debate over where life began?
I had just abandoned the pro-choice movement and was researching the pro-life position and was finding most of what they said quite persuasive. But how could abortion be legal until birth? Many other people who I have spoken to also could not believe the law could be so extreme. I snuck into a local law library and read Roe vs. Wade and its companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, and discovered the pro-lifers were telling the truth: abortion really is legal through all nine months, in every state, for any reason, and has been since 1973.
As I’ve written elsewhere: Either by design or by accident, our law is confusing in the extreme. The Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade made it seem as if only early abortion was legal, saying that the states, if they wished, could make late-term abortion illegal. They can’t. In Roe vs. Wade’s companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, the High Court squashed the states’ right to make third trimester abortions illegal.
The details are important. Roe said the states could make third trimester abortion illegal unless the woman’s “life or health” was endangered. We should already be suspicious – why mention “life” if “health” is enough to get a third trimester abortion? If a woman’s life is endangered, certainly her health in endangered. Maybe the justices were trying to seem as if such late-term abortion were only to be legal in very rare circumstances. The Supreme Court defined “health” as “all factors, physical, emotional, psychological and familial” and included the woman’s marital status and age. Only one other doctor aside from the abortionist has to attest to the woman’s “health.” So, the states can prohibit late-term abortion, except when one of “all factors” comes to pass – in other words, the states cannot prohibit any abortion! This is dishonest and misleading!
The definition of “health” was not included in the main case, Roe, but concealed over in Doe, which most people have never heard of! Both cases are “of course, to be read together,” so everything in one case pertains to the other! This is another indication that the Supreme Court Justices were being disingenuous! But of course the entire undertaking is illegitimate because the Constitution makes no mention of abortion, so how can any of it be a Constitutional right?! I urge readers who don’t believe me to peruse the High Court decisions themselves.
As I went back and forth, reading the two decisions, which were written by the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, I kept wondering why the author kept contradicting himself. “Doesn’t he know what he wrote in the other decision?” I asked myself. “Of course he knows – he’s lying through his teeth!” I slammed my hand on the table.
I could not understand why people in the news like Peter Jennings were not alerting the public to the true nature of the law, and it was there that my true political education began. There seemed to be a conspiracy afoot to conceal from the public the case against nine-month pro-choicers (those who support unqualified abortion).
If Justice Blackmun had been candid, he would have included a note in Roe that he had a special definition of health in Doe. He also would have had noted in Doe by the definition of health, that it pertained to the trimester scheme in Roe. What is the purpose of the trimester scheme anyway? Would it not be simpler just to say abortion is always legal until birth? Maybe the purpose of the scheme is to deceive the reader into thinking the law was a compromise.
Of course, very few abortions are committed on viable children, especially in comparison with early abortion. But that is not the point. The nine-month nature of our law strongly suggests that it is unconstitutional and that those who defend it are crackpots and nutjobs. The legality of late-term abortion completely alters the debate over abortion, taking attention away from the myopic focus on rape, incest and “when does life begin?” The six arguments that make up the core pro-choice position all demand nine month abortion, and once a person understands the law, it is a simple matter to dismiss these arguments.
In his debate with Senator McCain, then-Senator Obama said, “I am completely supportive of a ban on late term abortion … as long as there’s an exception for the woman’s health and life.” McCain had trouble explaining the health loophole because it is so complicated. The various Freedom of Choice Acts, meant to legislatively emulate Roe and Doe should those decisions be overturned, have their own health loopholes. It is clear that the health loophole is a powerful tool for nine-month pro-choicers to hide their own extremism.
Imagine how the public would appraise Presidents Obama and Clinton if they knew these presidents were nine-month pro-choicers. Consider the fight that would break out each time we had to appoint a new Supreme Court justice. Americans would have a very different understanding of the importance of this issue and how much attention it warranted.
The book I most strongly recommend on abortion is Randy Alcorn’s “Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments,” which addresses this problem. After discussing a Gallup public opinion poll that shows that most Americans want most abortion to be illegal, Alcorn writes this:
“In reference o the 1991 Gallup poll, the Washington Times asked and answered a critical question: ‘So why has there been no tidal wave of opposition to the legal status quo of abortion-on-demand? Simply this: Americans don’t know what the abortion laws say.’
The most startling discovery of the Gallup poll was that only 11 percent of Americans have an accurate understanding that abortion is available throughout all nine months of pregnancy….
In the words of Victor Rosenblum, past president of the Association of American Law Schools, the poll revealed that ‘an overwhelming majority of Americans simply do not understand what is allowed under current law. In many cases, it appears that people who consider themselves ‘pro-choice’ simply don’t know what they’re supporting.’ The poll shows that if they did know, many would not support it.”
Why doesn’t the public understand the law? Because the media is not covering the issue in a professional manner. They don’t show images of unborn children alive, dead or in the process of being killed. The media do not use candid language when discussing abortion, like using terms like “kill” and “baby.” They do not address the full scope of abortion, such as second and third trimester abortions.
According to Professor John Potts, in an essay in the book, “When Life and Choice Collide; Essays on Rhetoric and Abortion”, edited by David Mall, the problem of the nine month law being misunderstood by the public can be seen at Newsweek magazine. A spokesman for Americans United for Life Legal Defense Fund, a public interest law firm based in Chicago, was interviewed by a Newsweek reporter who “painstakingly describe[d] the extreme nature of the opinions in Roe and Doe, making particular reference to the availability of abortion in the third trimester for reason of maternal health and the meaning of the word ‘health’ as used in the abortion context.”
Potts writes “… In reporting on the last trimester, Newsweek magazine on June 27, 1983 wrote that in Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court … held that states … in the final months, except where a mother’s life was at stake … could prohibit abortions entirely to protect the unborn child.” (emphasis added).
Writes John Potts: “Newsweek’s statement stands in striking contrast to the conclusions of the Roe-Doe axis. The statement is not just misleading. The error is not a judgmental difference. Neither is it merely arguably wrong. It is absolutely and categorically false…This constitutes an egregious error on an important matter.”
Professor Potts promptly reported the error in a letter. No response. Potts and his colleague, Professor Richard Stith wrote another letter threatening to file a formal complaint. Still nothing. So, two months after initially writing to Newsweek, Potts and Stith brought the matter to the attention of The National News Council by letter, and sent a copy of the letter to Newsweek. The magazine responded that Potts was correct that abortions were allowed in response to “life and health” but “[t]he sentence in question was inadvertently truncated while proceeding through the editorial process.” Newsweek also said it was unable to print the letters from the professors in the magazine. But this is not the only time Newsweek misreported the trimester scheme. During the period that Professor Potts examined the magazine, it got the trimester scheme wrong five out of six times.
One wonders if all of this is really a mistake, or if it is an intentional policy to conceal from the public criticism of the pro-choice position. One wonders too if this deficit is limited to Newsweek or if it is a pattern through all the mainstream media. It is hard to believe that a free democracy could have a nine month abortion law, let alone one that the public was not aware of after so much time. Considering its impact on killing over 50 million American unborn children, the trimester scheme and its apparent coverup could be one of the most destructive lies ever told.