Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973), was an abortion case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court the same day as the infamous Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion. But while Roe v. Wade is better known and taught in law schools as imposing a trimester system for determining when an abortion can be regulated, Doe v. Bolton was actually the more significant and far-reaching decision.
Doe v. Bolton held that a physician, in his sole judgment, can perform an abortion at any time of pregnancy based on the health of the mother, which is broadly defined to include almost anything:
- all factors -- physician, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age -- relevant to the well-being of the patient
The irony is that an abortion often harms the health of the mother, by increasing her risk for breast cancer and her risk for premature birth with a future child. Childbirth, which abortion prevents, is generally beneficial to the health of the mother.
The entire case was based on a falsehood. Sandra Cano, the "Doe" in this case, testified before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary that she "did not seek an abortion" and actually had "to flee to Oklahoma to avoid the pressure being applied to have the abortion scheduled for [her] by [her] attorney."
- Angela Lanfranchi, M.D., F.A.C.S, “The breast physiology and the epidemiology of the abortion breast cancer link,” 12 Imago Hominis, No. 3, 228 (2005), http://www.abortionbreastcancer.com/Lanfranchi060201.pdf ; Karen Malec, “The Abortion-Breast Cancer Link: How Politics Trumped Science and Informed Consent,” 8 J. Am. Physicians & Surgeons 41 (Summer 2003), http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/malec.pdf ; Brent Rooney and Byron C. Calhoun, “Induced Abortion and Risk of Later Premature Births,” 8 J. Am. Physicians & Surgeons 46 (Summer 2003), http://www.jpands.org/vol8no2/rooney.pdf
- Testimony of Sandra Cano before the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary (June 23, 2005), http://judiciary.senate.gov/testimony.cfm?id=1553&wit_id=4393 (viewed May 12, 2006).