Twice in the last few days, I read articles on pro-life websites that blandly repeated pro-abortion falsehoods about efforts to legalize late-term abortion.
The Campaign Ad
Both articles related to a new campaign advertisement by the Biden/Harris presidential re-election campaign. The ad, entitled “Those Guys”, trumpets the candidates’ commitment to “restore Roe v. Wade.” This is one of the campaign’s core messages, and we can expect to hear it over and over until the election next year.
The first article, from the National Catholic Register, included this statement: “The ad references the Biden administration’s efforts to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, which would prevent states from restricting abortion before viability.”
I don’t mean to question or impugn the good faith of the Register or LifeNews. They are sincerely and fully pro-life.
But both those statements are utterly false, and pro-lifers should know better than to repeat them.
What Roe Really Did
Until 2022, Roe v. Wade and its related cases were the controlling Supreme Court decisions about the constitutionality of abortion restrictions. Those cases not only stopped states from banning pre-viability abortions, but they also legalized abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy.
In the companion case to Roe, the Supreme Court required states to permit abortion after viability for reasons of maternal “health.” But here’s how the Court defined “health” in a companion case to Roe: “all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.” That determination was up to the mother’s doctor—that is to say, the abortionist who wants to kill her unborn baby.
Due to that infinitely elastic definition of “health,” which included virtually any reason, Roe thus legalized abortion throughout pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.
That’s what they actually mean when they say they’re looking to “codify Roe” or “restore Roe.”
What the Bill Would Do
The same holds true of the bill referred to in the ad, which is supported not only by the administration but also by virtually every Democratic member of Congress. It’s called the Women’s Health Protection Act. Despite what they say, it would legalize abortion through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever.
“A prohibition on abortion after fetal viability when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”
“A limitation on a health care provider’s ability to provide immediate abortion services when that health care provider believes, based on the good-faith medical judgment of the provider, that delay would pose a risk to the patient’s health.”
Several things are crucial about that language. The “health care provider” is the abortionist. Their “good-faith judgment” is a blank check for them always to decide in favor of abortion.
Most important, the word “health” is never defined. Nor is the word “health” defined anywhere in federal law in the context of abortion. But the bill gives very clear instructions about how the word should be interpreted:
“In interpreting the provisions of this Act, a court shall liberally construe such provisions to effectuate the purposes of the Act.”
A liberal construction of the term “health” is exactly how the Supreme Court gave us abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. The Court has never disavowed that interpretation, even in the decision that overturned Roe.
There’s every reason to fear that contemporary courts would interpret the word in the same broad way. Even “originalists” on the Supreme Court are likely to see it that way. After all, the general public meaning of “health” includes not just physical conditions but mental and emotional well-being.
Let’s Sum Up
It’s very important to be perfectly clear about what all this means:
- Roe and its following cases required states to allow late term (i.e., post-viability) abortions if necessary for the mother’s “health.”
- The person who decided whether it was necessary was the abortionist.
- Anything that might affect any aspect of the mother’s health would qualify as a reason for a late-term abortion.
- The Women’s Health Protection Act would write all that into federal law and invalidate any state regulation or restriction to the contrary.
Pro-abortion activists typically hide their abortion extremism behind a deliberate mis-reading of Roe, hoping that people won’t look behind the legal terminology. Pro-lifers can’t fall for this.
We have to fact-check the administration, the media, and ourselves, to make sure that people know the truth about what pro-abortion advocates are really in favor of—abortion up to the moment of birth.