Laws Regarding Abortion

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Despite great controversy it is legal to have an abortion in the United States. Abortion has been the source of great political and ethical debate long before and long after the passing of Roe V. Wade in 1973. However, since that time abortion has remained a legal practice with certain restrictions outlined on a state to state basis.

When it comes to restrictions on abortion procedures most states have guideline regarding late term abortions, parental notification for minors, and the requirement for practitioners to fully disclose the risk of abortion to patients prior to them consenting to an abortion. Each individual state has its own take on these sub topics of abortion.

Basic Abortion Law

When it comes to legal abortion some things are similar from state to state. One of those things is the point in your pregnancy for which you have a legal abortion. This was determined mainly by when a fetus is considered viable, or when it could live outside the womb. Originally, when Roe V. Wade passed viability was considered to occur at 28 weeks. Now the general consensus is that it occurs at 24 weeks, though it is possible for a fetus to survive outside the womb as early as 21 weeks. For this reason, legal abortion varies from state to state when it comes to the cut off date, but only slightly. Currently, United States abortion law has banned partial birth abortions altogether.

Parental Notification

Many states have laws regarding whether or not a minor must provide parental consent to get an abortion procedure. This means that a minor cannot have an abortion without the consent of one or both of their parents depending on the state they live in. Some states allow a judge to overrule this order in the case of rape or incest. At this time 35 states have abortion parental consent laws on the books. Nine states including Connecticut, Hawaii, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Washington D.C. have no abortion parental consent laws.

Naturally, abortion law varies from state to state even when it comes to the requirement for parental consent. For instance, some states require notification of parents by the practitioner or clinic. Others only require written consent. In every state but Utah these abortion parental consent laws can be overruled by a judge acting in the best interest of the minor.

Procedural Laws

When it comes to abortion law another common law developed on a state level deals with personal consent. What this means is that a woman must receive counseling before she can consent to have an abortion procedure. In fact, 29 states require counseling for a legal abortion to take place. Of those states 23 have required a waiting period of 24 hours between counseling and an abortion procedure. However, only 5 states require a woman to receive that counseling in person.

Reporting Laws

Some states have also designed laws to enable them to keep track of abortion procedures. In fact, 46 states require clinics, hospitals and practitioners to keep track of and report statistical data to the state government. New Jersey, Maryland, New Hampshire, and Washington D.C. Voluntarily report their information and California has no forced or volunteer collection of statistical data surrounding abortion.
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