BOTH THE PRACTICE OF artificially terminating a pregnancy and the debate about its morality are as old as human civilization. Even the Hippocratic Oath, composed in ancient Greece, refers to abortifacents as one of the things doctors were not to administer. But the abortion question became a major political issue in the United States after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court ruled that the state could not regulate first-trimester abortions, could only regulate for the woman's health in the second trimester, and could only regulate on behalf of both woman and fetus in the third, after the fetus reached viability. The Supreme Court based its reasoning upon the principle of the right of privacy, in particular, that a woman's body ...

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