I got in a huge argument with a friend of mine at the Utah Republican Convention in 2000 over this issue. We were both delegates and the question before the convention was whether to make allowances for abortions in cases of rape, incest, or health of the mother. She supported the idea, and I am not sure.
Rape and incest are crimes committed by the parent, not the child. I don’t support the idea of killing a child because his parent broke a law, a law that doesn’t even allow for the killing of the parent (thanks to Kennedy v. Louisiana). So the criminal gets to live but the baby has to die.
Health of the mother is neutral territory for me. Again, why does a woman’s right to staying alive trump her baby’s right to staying alive? Sometimes doctors can say the baby has no chance of viability, and so continuing the pregnancy would kill two people instead of just one. In that case, I guess it could be all right, if a second opinion confirms this, and it’s not just a doctor signing off on it because the woman asked him to. I mean, pregnancy is inherently risky and “health” is such an all-encompassing term. Don’t forget that Roe v. Wade allowed states to prohibit abortions in the third trimester unless it was necessary for the mothers’ mental or emotional health. This is why restrictions on late-term abortions were overturned in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. I can say anything affects my health. Having a third kid last year made me feel old. My emotional health was affected.
I understand the idea behind allowing abortion for rape and incest; a woman wants to move on and get better. But I don’t think one is justified in saying, “Something bad happened to me, so I’m going to kill someone (who’s not the perpetrator) in an effort to move on.” The health of the mother exception makes sense if medical professionals are altruistic, but many aren’t. Second opinions don’t help when you can find two doctors to say, “Oh, you’re concerned you’ll have a hard time losing your pregnancy weight? Your emotional health is threatened!”
I know I’m in the minority, here. A vast majority of abortion opponents support these three exceptions. What I want is the Supreme Court to recognize the state sovereignty guaranteed by the Constitution and allow each state legislature to make its own decision. Don’t forget, prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion was not illegal in this country. A repeal of Roe v. Wade would return to that same setup. In my ideal scenario, a woman could get an abortion on demand in California, Oregon, Hawaii, Washington, Illinois, and the northeast, because those state legislatures would allow it. In the other states, she’d only be able to get one in the case of rape, incest, and a risk to her physical (not emotional) health. That might be a hardship on some women, but I don’t know when anyone said killing a baby would be easy.
That’s the democratic process in action. That’s states’ rights respected. The current setup is a travesty of science, politics, and law.