Does Hillary Clinton believe that abortion should be legal even very late in pregnancy? Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are among those who have said she does, and several “fact-checkers” have denied it – most recently W. Gardner Selby at PolitiFact Texas. (I came across Selby’s article via David Harsanyi’s debunking of it.) The fact-checkers are both wrong and out of their depth.
Selby notes that Clinton has on several occasions said that she would be willing to restrict late-term abortions and partial-birth abortions so long as an exception were made to protect the health of the mother. Pro-lifers have generally dismissed those comments because health has been defined so broadly that a ban with such an exception is unenforceable.
In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court held that governments could restrict abortion late in pregnancy so long as they made an exception for health. In the companion case of Doe v. Bolton, Justice Blackmun, the author of Roe, said a little more about health:
Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute [at issue in this case], “an abortion is necessary” is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. 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 wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman [seeking an abortion].
Read more at National Review.