The phrase “reproductive rights” refers to a person’s or a couple’s legal ability to decide on issues like:
- How many children can they have, how many, when, and how far between should they have them
- Family preparation
- Use of birth control and contraception
- The freedom from prejudice in particular situations
- Reproductive and sexual health
Therefore, the power an individual or couple has over their bodies in reproduction and delivery is typically referred to as their reproductive rights. When it comes to reproductive rights, states may have very diverse regulations. Reproductive rights are a significant topic in several legal fields, particularly family law.
Which Legal Problems Are Related to Reproductive Rights?
Reproductive rights frequently raise various legal questions, ideas, and potential legal claims.
These may consist of the following:
- Rights to abortion, particularly for children
- Injuries brought on by using contraceptives
- Product liability (especially with products related to reproductive functions)
- Negligence and malpractice in medicine
- Legal ramifications of surgical operations related to reproduction and sterilization
Conflicts over reproductive rights typically center on consent. For instance, a doctor may face substantial legal repercussions if they sterilize a patient against that person’s will or without their consent.
States are now free to ban abortion after the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. Some states have severely restricted or outright banned abortion. Although many states still allow abortions, it is legal to travel to another state to get one. Nowhere is abortion illegal.
Abortion-related laws are rapidly changing. We are here to inform you about these new rules and how they may affect your ability to have a safe, legal abortion.
Following Roe, State-by-State Abortion Laws
State governments now have jurisdiction over reproductive rights and abortion legislation due to the June 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe v. Wade. Half of the U.S. states are expected to restrict the surgery in the days and weeks following the Court’s ruling abolishing the constitutional right to the treatment.
Laws governing the procedure are now unenforceable in at least 13 states due to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Georgia outlaws abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
In numerous jurisdictions where the fight for access to abortions is still being fought in the courts, advocates have attempted to stop the implementation of legislation that restrict the practice.
How Legal Abortion Is
It is projected that roughly half of the states will approve gestational limits or other limitations on abortion. In several of these states, abortion is still legal while judges assess whether new or existing restrictions can go into effect. Even though abortion is permitted in the remaining states, there may still be barriers to access or other limitations.
Understanding Pre-Roe Abortion Bans
When Roe struck down abortion bans in 1973, most states changed their previous abortion regulations. However, several states and territories never repealed the pre-Roe abortion restrictions. Now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe, these states might try to reimpose these restrictions.
Types of Abortion Bans
Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP)
Regulations known as targeted regulation of abortion providers (TRAP) specifically target physicians who provide abortion care and impose several legal requirements that are different from and more stringent than those imposed on physicians who do not perform abortions.
TRAP laws can be broken down into various categories, such as those that control the locations where abortions are carried out, facility requirements, provider certifications, and reporting limitations. The cost of compliance is typically high and may need facility upgrades.
Legal requirements for parental involvement mandate that clinics or providers either notify parents or legal guardians of minors seeking abortions before the procedure (parental notification) or document the assent of parents or legal guardians to the minor’s abortion (parental consent).
Before pregnant women receive abortion treatment, some laws require counseling or ultrasounds. In some circumstances, they also specify a waiting period between the counseling or ultrasound and the abortion procedure.
Amendment by Hyde
Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) successfully proposed the Hyde Amendment, often known as the Hyde Budget Rider, in 1976, prohibiting federal funding for abortion. Since its creation, Congress has annually renewed the Hyde Amendment.
Public Assistance for Abortion Availability
States are required to offer public funding via the state Medicaid program for abortion services that are necessary due to life endangerment, rape, or incest. States may also designate state-exclusive funding to offer Medicaid recipients all or most of the medically necessary abortion services.
Required Individual Insurance
States have the right to impose specific requirements on commercial health insurance plans that are governed by state law, such as the coverage of abortion.
Clinic Safety and Accessibility
Laws prohibit trespassing, physically impeding clinics, threatening medical staff or patients, and calling the clinic to harass them. A secure area is established by law around the clinic.
Provider Requirements for Abortion
State governments and licensing agencies constrain the scope of practice for medical practitioners. State laws frequently do not define whether medical procedures are within or outside a practitioner’s scope of practice. However, by limiting abortions to medical professionals, many jurisdictions have adopted a different perspective on the issue.
Other states have taken proactive measures to broaden the types of clinicians who may lawfully provide abortion care by repealing physician-only laws or explicitly allowing physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, and other qualified medical professionals to do so through legislation, regulations, or Attorney General opinions.
Interstate shield laws protect abortion providers and supporters from civil and criminal liability resulting from providing abortion care to an out-of-state resident in states where abortion is legal and accessible. Abortion-hating states have made it obvious that they intend to outright prohibit the procedure inside and outside their borders.
For the Purposes of Abortion Laws, When Does a Fetus Become “Viable”?
A fetus is viable, according to the United States Supreme Court, if it can survive outside the mother’s womb without the use of technology that sustains life. The courts acknowledged that a fetus normally becomes “viable” in the third trimester or at 28 weeks of pregnancy. Due to the 28-week definition, protecting the mother’s health and safety and the potential life of the unborn child has become a “compelling state interest.” The state’s overriding interest in safeguarding women’s health and lives were judged to outweigh the women’s right to privacy.
In certain states, there is no set period of time when the pregnancy becomes viable; instead, doctors must establish the fetus’ viability using testing and other procedures.
States may impose restrictions on abortions to protect the health and safety of the mother as well as the life of the unborn fetus, so long as these restrictions don’t cause the mother undue hardship or significantly interfere with her right to privacy.
Are Reproductive Rights Violations Punishable by Law?
In most situations, a breach of reproductive rights may lead to legal action. Particularly in cases involving harm, these types of lawsuits will typically result in a monetary damages award to pay the plaintiff for expenditures like medical expenses.
In some situations, more drastic measures may be required, like replacing hospital employees or other people who are determined to have committed errors, shown neglect, or displayed discriminatory behavior. Finally, reproductive rights abuses may lead to changes in public policy, particularly in medical technology and birth control.
Do I Require an Attorney for Help with Reproductive Rights?
Legal problems and harms can be very substantial in cases involving reproductive rights. If you need help with any reproductive rights-related issues, you might need to hire a family lawyer in your area.
Your lawyer can help you with your claim by offering legal counsel and representation. Additionally, if you have any particular questions or worries, your lawyer can investigate the legal framework in your state to help you understand your alternatives.