Abortion Laws

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Do I Have the Right to Have an Abortion?

If you are considering having an abortion, there are certain laws and rights that you may have surrounding your decision. In the case Roe v. Wade in 1972, the Supreme Court made it legally possible for women and minors to have the right to choose to terminate their pregnancy for any reason without any government involvement.

This right is also guaranteed to the women under the First Amendment’s Right of Privacy, which provides that the government cannot deny any individual their right to privacy without providing a compelling and necessary reason.

What Are the Regulations That Involve Abortions?

Since the Supreme Court’s decision in the 1972 case Roe v. Wade, abortion has come under examination by many lawmakers and also many individuals who believe abortion should be banned all together. Even though the women has the right of privacy, states may place regulations on abortions to protect the health and safety of the mother and the life unborn child.

In evaluating these regulations, the courts determine two factors:

  1. Pre-Viability Rule: If the unborn child is not viable (cannot live outside the mothers womb without life supporting technology) then states may place regulations on abortions to protect the health and safety of the mother and the life of the unborn baby as long as they are not an undue burden or a substantial obstacle in the mothers.
  2. Post- Viability Rule: After the unborn child or fetus is viable, the states may place regulations on abortion because many states recognize a fetus and unborn child as an existing person and want to protect the child’s interest. However, the mother may obtain a abortion if the mother’s health in is imminent danger.

How Can Regulations Limit Abortions?

States may place regulations on abortions to protect the health and safety of the mother and the life of the unborn fetus as long as the regulations are not an undue burden and a substantial obstacle on the mother's right to privacy. Below is a summary of abortion regulations that are not considered substantial obstacles or an undue burden:

  1. Counseling: States may require women to receive counseling before an abortion procedure. The counseling is just for information about the risks involved, fetus ability to feel pain, mental health consequences, and other available options.
  2. Waiting Period: Almost half of the states require women to wait at least 24-hours before receiving an abortion. This waiting period is between the initial consultation and the actual abortion. This is made just in case the women may have doubts in between.
  3. Doctor and Hospital Requirements: In almost every state a women must have an abortion performed by a licensed physician. Many states require the abortion to be done in a actual hospital.
  4. Parental Involvement: If a minor is having a abortion, many states require that the women who is under the age of 18 obtain parental notification and consent prior to the procedure or at least a judicial bypass from the court.
  5. Public Funding: The states do not have an obligation to pay or provide funding to have abortions done. Many states will allow private insurances to pay for abortions.

When Is Fetus Considered "Viable" under Abortion Laws?

The United States Supreme Court has determined that a fetus becomes viable when the unborn child can live outside of the mothers womb on its own without the use of life supporting technology. The courts recognized that a fetus becomes "viable" usually during the third trimester or after 28 weeks in the pregnancy. The 28-week definition allows makes the regulations on abortion a "compelling state interest" in protecting the unborn child’s potential life and protecting the mother’s health and safety. It was determined that the women’s right to privacy is outweighed by the states compelling interest of preserving the child’s life and women’s health.

Some states do not have a set timetable of when the fetus is actually viable and allow doctors to decide for themselves if the fetus is viable through tests and procedures.

Is the Government Required to Pay for an Abortion?

No. The government does not have the obligation to use public state funding to pay for an abortion. Ever since 1977, the federal government has refused to cover abortions in public insurance programs. Abortion funds exist from other private organizations and insurance carriers. Many abortion fund groups are volunteer programs that would pay for a women’s abortion

Do I Need a Lawyer for an Abortion?

A lawyer is not required to obtain an abortion, but there are lawyers that represent individuals who have been denied their right to an abortion. If you believe that the state has restricted your right to have an abortion and want to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s action, contact a civil rights lawyer to protect your constitutional rights.

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Last Modified: 08-03-2016 10:28 PM PDT

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