While American law in the area of abortion is a combination of both state statutes and federal law, the legal status of abortion is based on United States Supreme Court decisions. The 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision is the most cited case, since Roe actually announced a federal constitutional "right" to abortion. But it was Roe's companion case, Doe vs. Bolton, that established the scope of this new right.
Doe held that abortion must remain legally available to women at any stage in pregnancy for so-called "health" reasons. Health was broadly defined to encompass anything "relevant to the well-being of the patient . . . including all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age." Thus, health became the exception that swallows the rule. By this definition, pregnancy itself becomes a health justification for abortion. In addition, the one who performs and gets paid for the abortion determines whether the abortion is needed for health reasons, creating an obvious conflict of interest.
Statements that abortion is legal only in the first three months of pregnancy are false, as are statements that a particular state does not allow abortions beyond a certain point. The legality of even the latest abortions is guaranteed by the Supreme Court's expansive health definition in Doe.
Indeed, abortion advocates now complain only about abortion access, not legality. As Judge Danny J. Boggs of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated in reviewing Ohio's partial-birth abortion ban: "At oral argument, counsel for the abortionists asserted . . . their position that these legal principles . . . pose no barrier to any woman seeking an abortion at any time for any purpose." Ohio was the first of 30 states to enact a ban on partial birth abortion, a procedure that kills the child as it is delivered. But courts have invalidated almost all such bans, leaving the human infant unprotected from abortion even during delivery. (Nebraska's law is at issue in the upcoming Supreme Court case.)
That abortion is destructive to women as well as children is now well established. According to Dr. Joel Brind, of New York's Baruch College, the link between abortion and breast cancer is now undisputed. Reports of physical injuries and deaths at clinics are already alarmingly common. In a single three-year period, for example, two women (Lisa Bardsley and Lou Anne Herron), died from abortions at the Woman's A to Z Clinic in Phoenix. And clinics themselves have pamphlets detailing post-abortion problems, including guilt and depression.
Abortion is, of course, a fundamentally destructive act. It destroys not just a child, but a part of the child's mother as well. The authentic pro-life effort therefore helps mothers as well as infants.