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The phrase “Roe v. Wade” has become distorted in the minds of some Americans to mean that the Supreme Court declared in 1973 that abortion at any stage of pregnancy is a Constitutional right. Not so.

The actual decision said that states could not restrict abortion during the first trimester and that during the second and third trimesters, states were free to regulate this procedure within proscribed guidelines. (If you doubt this summary, please check Wikipedia or any other fact-based information site for the actual Roe v. Wade decision.)

During the intervening decades, additional court decisions and legislative action now makes abortion possible in some states up to and including “abortion” at full-term.

The simple fact is that Roe v. Wade never guaranteed the “right” to obtain an abortion at any stage of pregnancy. In the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the trimester standard was modified to a “fetal viability” criteria. This makes sense, considering the advances in neonatal medicine, since newborns now generally survive at about 24 weeks gestation.

So for those who mistakenly consider Roe v. Wade some kind of immutable pledge of the right to an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, history and the facts simply do not support this view.

Joseph E. Schiller