Roe vs. Wade established the right to terminate a pregnancy up until viability, the time when a fetus could survive outside of the uterus, generally believed to occur at 24 weeks. Before viability, a woman may abort for any reason. After viability, she may abort only if necessary to protect her life or health.
A new front has opened in the abortion wars with laws that ban abortion at 20 weeks on the ground that the fetus is then capable of feeling pain. Led by Nebraska in 2011, 10 states have passed such laws, and the Texas Legislature has recently considered doing so.
The story you’re reading is premium content from the Austin American-Statesman. Subscribers get total access to all our in-depth news, digital editions and exclusive premium content. You can also buy a 24-hour digital pass or 7-day digital pass.
Read MyStatesman.com now — 24-hour digital pass99¢ for 24-hours
Read MyStatesman.com all week — 7-day digital pass$3.99 for 7-days
Subscribe to the Statesman for as little as 33¢ per dayView Offers
For Subscribers: Register your account for digital access.Access Digital
For Subscribers: Sign in here if you have already registered your account.Sign In
John A. Robertson holds the Vinson and Elkins Chair at the University of Texas School of Law. He has written and lectured widely on law and bioethical issues, has served on or been a consultant to many national bioethics advisory bodies and is currently chairman of the Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.