Too Late For Abortion:
Too late for abortion? The rulings handed down by the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973 provide the answer. On that date, the Court handed down two decisions that were "to be read together." Most Americans, however, are familiar with only one of those two rulings—Roe v. Wade. Few have heard of Doe v. Bolton.
In Roe v. Wade the Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to abortion. While guaranteeing that right, the Court did say that the state "has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a compelling point at various stages of the woman's approach to term."
The court [in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973)] included the following:
(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 [410 U.S. 113, 165] may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
Basically, the state may not regulate abortion for any reason during the first trimester of pregnancy; may regulate abortion only to protect the health of the mother during the second trimester; and may regulate or prohibit abortion in the third trimester except where necessary to preserve the woman's life or health.
It is this reference to health that is addressed in Doe v. Bolton [410 U.S. 179 (1973)]:
We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of 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.
Reading Roe v. Wade and Doe V. Bolton together (as mandated by the Court), it becomes clear that abortion in the United States is legal for virtually any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.