Why are these cases important, and why will the Supreme Court eventually have to confront the issues presented by them? Well, the evidence that the risk to the health of the mother increases exponentially with every passing week for abortions late in the pregnancy should give pause to any but the most doctrinaire advocates of abortion on demand. And the evidence that an unborn child in utero feels pain really gives lie to the claim, oft-repeated since Roe v. Wade was decided 41 years ago, that there is no child there, only tissue or a clump of cells. The science is forcing our society to grapple with the fundamental immorality of abortion on demand that was unleashed by Roe and its companion case, Doe v. Bolton.
Today, the United States is one of only four nations in the world that allows for abortion on demand at any time during pregnancy. We’re in the company of those great paragons of moral virtue and human rights, North Korea and China. But the States continue to press the issue because they recognize what the Supreme Court in Roe seems to have forgotten—government has a deep moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us. One of the judges on the Ninth Circuit panel suggested, tongue-in-cheek, that perhaps the states should require that anesthetics be administered to an unborn child in the womb before an abortion can be performed on it. Such a rule would at least allow the unborn child to escape the pain that the gruesome techniques of late-term abortion would otherwise inflict on him or her. But it cannot anesthetize the rest of us to the gruesome tragedy of late-term abortion, at least not as long as there is any measure of human decency left among us.