Thinking about abortion regulation requires three considerations: biological, legal and moral. The National Institutes of Health provides a good summary of the 40 weeks of pregnancy.
After conception, an embryo forms during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. A woman’s body may detect conditions incompatible with human life and spontaneously abort about 50 percent of embryos.
The fetus cannot live outside the womb until about 20 to 22 weeks of pregnancy when it may become viable. At week 25, the fetus has a 50 percent chance of survival outside the womb. Most brain development occurs in the final trimester of pregnancy.
Childbirth is a most extraordinary event. Once the fetus emerges from the woman’s body, the heart and lungs begin to function and mature. The fetus becomes an infant when independent evidence of life is observed.
The Roe v. Wade decision rested largely on balancing prenatal health with the health and privacy rights of the mother. The court found that privacy extends to mothers particularly in the first trimester during which time states couldn’t prohibit abortion.
After the first trimester, the state may regulate abortion to protect the health of the mother. Subsequent to viability, the state may regulate or proscribe abortion except for preserving the life of the mother.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey superseded this decision by replacing the prohibition of abortion restrictions during the first trimester with the concept of viability. The criterion for the test of constitutionality changed to “undue burden.”
As a result, states may place restrictions on abortions before viability as long as they don’t impose undue burdens on the mother.
None of the forgoing addresses the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from using religion to justify a law. This point was made 30 years ago by Justice John Paul Stevens. He wrote that the divisive debate based on differing religious views made it clear that defending a law by invoking a particular view of God violates the First Amendment.
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey did exactly that, while signing new restrictions on abortion, when she averred they affirmed Alabamians’ belief that conception is a sacred gift from God.
Finally, one needs to consider the impact on religion of anti-abortion rhetoric and legislation. Christianity proved its strength by spreading through evangelism. When it became a state religion, human control corrupted it.
This corruption led to schisms and religious wars, which motivated men such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison to fiercely oppose requiring religious oaths of office or allowing established religion.
To paraphrase Lord Kelvin any religion enforced by law “… is of a meagre and unsatisfactory kind.”
True pro-life would provide the essentials of a healthy life to all mothers and infants by the government. Otherwise abortion regulations remain a mechanism requiring mandatory birth without regard to the social or religious rights of the mother.