Across the United States, a woman can walk into an abortion clinic and get a legal later-term abortion (usually 24+ weeks) that is illegal according to her state’s restrictions. Did she cross state lines or go to a back-alley clinic? No. She used the mental health exception.
How does it work? The clinic advises a woman to state that she is depressed by her pregnancy. They can then determine that the pregnancy poses a potentially life-threatening risk to the woman, and end her unborn baby’s life under a mental health exception.
Twenty-eight states have this loophole that allows most women to get abortions on demand, no matter how harshly worded their public policy may be:
*independent psychiatric evaluation required
The loophole has long been a source of heated debate between the pro-life and pro-choice communities. Take for example the highly publicized case involving Dr. George Tiller, a Kansas abortionist who allegedly forged dozens of medical records to provide abortions under the mental health exception.
Politicians looking to gain favor among constituents have proposed laws that appear to place stringent restrictions on abortion, but in reality they only add to the paperwork load of the abortionists. We, as activists, need to look at the details of abortion legislation and not allow ourselves to be pacified into complacency.
The next time you hear one of your leaders propose a law involving abortion, dig a little deeper and do some research. Google.com is a great place to do a quick search and cross-reference your facts to make sure you have the whole picture. When you see something that doesn’t add up, write a letter or pick up the phone to let your politicians know that you want to see a real change in public policy.