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Banning Late-Term Abortions
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The U.S. Senate just passed a ban on partial-birth abortions:

Once signed, the bill will be the first federal law banning a form of abortion since the Supreme Court's landmark 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision upheld abortion rights.

Which is a little disingenuous, since the decision laid it out this way:

(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.

(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.

(c) 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, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.

So Roe v. Wade didn't just "uphold abortion rights". I think it was a very wise decision in many ways, recognizing the sliding scale of rights that a fetus has as it develops. Note that last part, where the justices note that the State may prohibit third-trimester abortion, except when the life of the mother is at stake.

The CNN story notes:

According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit group that conducts sexual and reproductive health research, 2,200 late-term abortions were performed in 2000. That was less than 0.2 percent of the 1.3 million abortions performed that year.

How many of those, I wonder, were performed to save the life of the mother?

I won't pretend that the abortion debate is a simple one. It's not. I do find reactions to such legislation interesting, as most people tend to be black and white on this issue, and assume the very worst of the other side.

Take the fact that the number of late-term abortions is so small, less than 0.2 percent of abortions performed in 2000.

A pro-life advocate could argue that it only affects a small number of women, and bans only the most controversial type of abortions, not infringing upon the rights of the vast majority of women in getting legal abortions in the first two trimesters.

But the pro-abortion-rights crowd is already arguing the slippery slope. The legislation is a wedge, designed to overturn all abortion.

If you've been reading me for long, you know how much I despise the slippery slope argument. If it's a damn slope, then wear cleats and dig yourself in. Try actually arguing the merits of the policy sitting right in front of you, not the next ten things you think will be coming down the pipeline after this one passes.

The Senate bill seems like sound policy to me, in line with the decision of the Supreme Court nearly three decades ago, who did not give carte blanche to abortion doctors, but recognized that as a fetus develops, so do its rights under the law.

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