Abortion in the United States by state

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Main article: Abortion law

Abortion in the United States is legal, via the landmark case of Roe v. Wade. However, individual states can regulate/limit the use of abortion or create "trigger laws", which would make abortion illegal within the first and second trimesters if Roe were overturned by the US Supreme Court. Currently, 6 states have trigger laws and 3 other states have laws intending to criminalize abortion.[1]

Current legal status nationwide[edit]

Abortion laws in the U.S. prior to Roe.
  Illegal
  Legal in case of rape
  Legal in case of danger to woman's health
  Legal in case of danger to woman's health, rape or incest, or likely damaged fetus
  Legal on request
Parental notification and consent laws in the U.S.
  No parental notification or consent laws
  One parent must be informed beforehand
  Both parents must be informed beforehand
  One parent must consent beforehand
  Both parents must consent beforehand
  Parental notification law currently enjoined
  Parental consent law currently enjoined
Mandatory waiting period laws in the U.S.
  No mandatory waiting period
  Waiting period of less than 24 hours
  Waiting period of 24 hours or more
  Waiting period law currently enjoined
Abortion counseling laws in the U.S.
  No mandatory counselling
  Counselling in person, by phone, mail, and/or other
  Counselling in person only
  Counselling law enjoined
Mandatory ultrasound laws in the U.S.
  Mandatory. Must display image.
  Mandatory. Must offer to display image.
  Mandatory. Law temporarily unenforceable.
  Not mandatory. Must offer ultrasound.
  Not mandatory. If ultrasound is performed, must offer to display image.
  Not mandatory.
Fetal homicide laws in the fifty states
  "Homicide" or "murder".
  Other crime against fetus.
  Depends on age of fetus.
  Assaulting pregnant woman.

The current judicial interpretation of the U.S. Constitution regarding abortion in the United States, following the Supreme Court of the United States 1973 landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, and subsequent companion decisions, is that abortion is legal but may be restricted by the states to varying degrees. States have passed laws to restrict late term abortions, require parental notification for minors, and mandate the disclosure of abortion risk information to patients prior to the procedure.[2]

The key, deliberated article of the U.S. Constitution is the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.[3]

The official report of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, issued in 1983 after extensive hearings on the Human Life Amendment (proposed by Senators Orrin Hatch and Thomas Eagleton), stated:

Thus, the [Judiciary] Committee observes that no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of her pregnancy.[4]

One aspect of the legal abortion regime now in place has been determining when the fetus is "viable" outside the womb as a measure of when the "life" of the fetus is its own (and therefore subject to being protected by the state). In the majority opinion delivered by the court in Roe v. Wade, viability was defined as "potentially able to live outside the woman's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks." When the court ruled in 1973, the then-current medical technology suggested that viability could occur as early as 24 weeks. Advances over the past three decades have allowed fetuses that are a few weeks less than 24 weeks old to survive outside the woman's womb. These scientific achievements, while life-saving for premature babies, have made the determination of being "viable" somewhat more complicated. The youngest child to survive a premature birth in the United States was a girl born at the Baptist Hospital of Miami in 2006 at 21 weeks and 6 days' gestational age.[5]

In comparison to other developed countries, the procedure is more available in the United States in terms of how late the abortion can legally be performed. However, in terms of other aspects such as government funding, privacy for non-adults, or geographical access, some U.S. states are far more restrictive. In most European countries abortion on-demand is allowed only during the first trimester, with abortions during later stages of pregnancy being allowed only for specific reasons (e.g. physical or mental health reasons, risk of birth defects, if the woman was raped etc.). The reasons that can be invoked by a woman seeking an abortion after the first trimester vary by country, for instance, some countries, such as Denmark, provide a wide range of reasons, including social and economic ones.[6]

There are no laws or restrictions regulating abortion in Canada, while Australia places heavier restrictions on the procedure. In many countries the right to abortion has been legalized by respective parliaments, while in the U.S. the right to abortion has been deemed a part of a constitutional right to privacy by the Supreme Court.

Because of the split between federal and state law, legal access to abortion continues to vary somewhat by state. Geographic availability, however, varies dramatically, with 87 percent of U.S. counties having no abortion provider.[7] Moreover, due to the Hyde Amendment, many state health programs which poor women rely on for their health care do not cover abortions; currently only 17 states (including California, Illinois and New York) offer or require such coverage.[8]

The 1992 case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey overturned Roe's strict trimester formula, but reemphasized the right to abortion as grounded in the general sense of liberty and privacy protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution: "If the right of privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwarranted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision whether to bear or beget a child." Advancements in medical technology meant that a fetus might be considered viable, and thus have some basis of a right to life, at 22 or 23 weeks rather than at the 28 that was more common at the time Roe was decided. For this reason, the old trimester formula was ruled obsolete, with a new focus on viability of the fetus.

Since 1995, led by Congressional Republicans, the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have moved several times to pass measures banning the procedure of intact dilation and extraction, also commonly known as partial birth abortion. After several long and emotional debates on the issue, such measures passed twice by wide margins, but President Bill Clinton vetoed those bills in April 1996 and October 1997 on the grounds that they did not include health exceptions. Congressional supporters of the bill argue that a health exception would render the bill unenforceable, since the Doe v. Bolton decision defined "health" in vague terms, justifying any motive for obtaining an abortion. Subsequent Congressional attempts at overriding the veto were unsuccessful.

On October 2, 2003, with a vote of 281-142, the House again approved a measure banning the procedure, called the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. Through this legislation, a doctor could face up to two years in prison and face civil lawsuits for performing such an abortion. A woman who undergoes the procedure cannot be prosecuted under the measure. The measure contains an exemption to allow the procedure if the woman's life is threatened.

On October 21, 2003, the United States Senate passed the same bill by a vote of 64-34, with a number of Democrats joining in support. The bill was signed by President George W. Bush on November 5, 2003, but a federal judge blocked its enforcement in several states just a few hours after it became public law. The Supreme Court upheld the nationwide ban on the procedure in the case Gonzales v. Carhart on April 18, 2007. The 5-4 ruling said the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act does not conflict with previous Court decisions regarding abortion.

The decision marked the first time the court allowed a ban on any type of abortion since 1973. The swing vote, which came from moderate justice Anthony Kennedy, was joined by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and the two recent appointees, Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts.

Various states have passed legislation on the subject of feticide.

State regulatory initiatives regarding abortion[edit]

The following states have initiatives regarding abortion:

Colorado[edit]

The initiative was proposed jointly by Kristine Burton and Michael Burton[9] of Colorado for Equal Rights.[10] Colorado Amendment 48 was a proposed initiative to amend the definition of a person to "any human being from the moment of fertilization." On November 4, 2008, the initiative was turned down by 73.2% of the voters.[11]

Kansas[edit]

Kansas lawmakers approved sweeping anti-abortion legislation (HB 2253) on April 6, 2013 that says life begins at fertilization, forbids abortion based on gender and bans Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in schools.[12]

Louisiana[edit]

On June 19, 2006, Governor Kathleen Blanco signed into law a ban on most forms of abortion (unless the life of the mother was in danger or her health would be permanently damaged) once it passed the state legislature. Although she felt exclusions for rape or incest would have "been reasonable," she felt she should not veto based on those reasons. The bill would only go into effect if the United States Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade. Louisiana's measure would allow the prosecution of any person who performed or aided in an abortion. The penalties include up to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $100,000.[13]

Mississippi[edit]

On February 27, 2006, Mississippi’s House Public Health Committee voted to approve a ban on abortion, and that bill died after the House and Senate failed to agree on compromise legislation.[14]

On November 8, 2011, the Personhood amendment, to define personhood as beginning “at the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof,” was rejected by 55% of voters.[15]

North Dakota[edit]

Main article: North Dakota HB 1572

North Dakota's HB 1572, otherwise known as the Personhood of Children Act, was a bill in the North Dakota Legislature which aims to "provide equality and rights to all human beings at every stage of biological development". This step could eventually eliminate all types of abortion for nearly any reason in the state of North Dakota.[16] It would allocate rights of "the pre-born, partially born." If it had passed, it would have likely been used to challenge Roe v. Wade.[17]

This legislation, sponsored by State Representative Dan Ruby, passed the North Dakota House of Representatives on February 17, 2009 by a vote of 51-41. On April 3, 2009 the North Dakota Senate defeated HB 1572 in a 29 to 16 vote.

South Dakota[edit]

In 2004, a bill outlawing abortion passed both houses of the legislature, but was vetoed by the Governor due to a technicality. The state's legislature subsequently passed five laws curtailing the legality of abortion in 2005.[18] The majority of a legislative "task force" [19] then issued a report recommending that the Legislature illegalize all abortions, which would lead to a challenge of the constitutionality of Roe v. Wade in the United States Supreme Court. A separate minority report criticizing the process and reaching different conclusions was also released.[20]

In February 2006, the Legislature passed the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act, which was signed into law by Governor Mike Rounds on March 6, 2006. This law would have forbidden abortion under virtually every circumstance, including in cases of rape and incest. The law allowed "a medical procedure designed or intended to prevent the death of a pregnant mother." Physicians performing such procedures would have been required to "...make reasonable medical efforts under the circumstances to preserve both the life of the mother and the life of her unborn child."

The act had specifically defined pregnancy as beginning at the point of conception rather than at implantation into the uterine wall (see beginning of pregnancy controversy), which might have meant that WHHLPA applied to emergency contraception and possibly all forms of hormonal contraception.

Several members of the South Dakota legislative majority, as well as Governor Rounds, acknowledged that the overt goal of WHHLPA was to get the Supreme Court to overturn Roe [21] per the recommendation of the task force (the Supreme Court at that time was shifting in a conservative direction, one that might have been more amenable to overturning Roe).

A referendum to repeal the Women's Health and Human Life Protection Act was placed on ballot for the November 2006 statewide election due to a successful petition drive by the organization South Dakota Healthy Families. On May 30, over 38,000 petition signatures were filed, more than twice the 17,000 required to place a measure on the ballot. On November 7, WHHLPA was repealed by the South Dakota electorate; the vote was 56%-44% favoring repeal.[22]

Texas[edit]

The Roe v. Wade case, tried in Texas, stands at the center of years of national debate about the issue of abortion.[23] Henry Wade was serving as District Attorney of Dallas County at the time.


On June 25, 2013, Democratic politician Wendy Davis held an eleven-hour-long filibuster to block more restrictive abortion regulations for Texas. The bill ultimately passed in a second session. Since the passage of the bill, abortion access in the state of Texas has declined substantially.

State table[edit]

State Bans of Abortion Limits on Abortion Pro-Choice Protection
Status Before "Roe" Current Status[24] General Limits Limits on Minors
Completely Illegal Illegal with Limits Trigger Law on Any Abortion Trigger Law on Late Term Abortion Waiting Period Mandatory Ultrasound[25] Counseling  % of Counties Without Provider At least One Parent Informed At Least One Parent Consent Freedom Act[26] State Constitutional Protection[27] Grade given by NARAL[28]
 Alabama No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 93%[29] Yes Yes No No F
 Alaska No No No Yes None No Yes 83%[30] No No No Yes A-
 Arizona Yes No No Yes None 24 hours None 73%[31] Yes Yes No Yes D
 Arkansas No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes 97%[32] Yes Yes No No F
 California No Yes No No None No None 41%[33] No No Yes Yes A+
 Colorado No Yes Yes No None No None 78%[34] Yes[35] No No No C+
 Connecticut Yes No No No None No None 25%[36] No No Yes Yes A
 Delaware No Yes No No None No Yes 33%[37] Yes No No No C+
 Florida No Yes No Yes None Yes None 69%[38] Yes No No Yes F
 Georgia No Yes No No Yes No Yes 92%[39] Yes No No No D
 Hawaii No No No No None No None 20%[40] No No Yes No A
 Idaho Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 93%[41] Yes Yes[42][43] No No F
 Illinois Yes No Yes Yes None No None 92%[44] No No No Yes B-
 Indiana Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 93%[45] Yes Yes No Yes F
 Iowa Yes No No Yes None No None 93%[46] Yes No No No C+
 Kansas Yes No No Yes Yes Yes Yes 96%[47] Yes No No No F
 Kentucky Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 98%[48] Yes Yes No No F
 Louisiana Yes No Yes Yes Yes 24 hours[49] Yes 92%[50] Yes Yes No No F
 Maine Yes No No No None No None 63%[51] Yes Yes Yes No A
 Maryland No Yes No No None No None 58%[52] Yes No Yes No A
 Massachusetts No Yes No No None No Yes 14%[53] Yes Yes No Yes B-
 Michigan Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 83%[54] Yes Yes No No F
 Minnesota Yes No No No Yes No Yes 95%[55] Yes No No Yes C+
 Mississippi No Yes No Yes Yes Yes Yes 99%[56] Yes Yes No No F
 Missouri Yes No Yes Yes Yes No None 96%[57] Yes Yes No No F
 Montana Yes No No No None No None 91%[58] No No No Yes A-
 Nebraska Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 97%[59] Yes No No No F
 Nevada Yes No No No None No None 88%[60] No No Yes No A-
 New Hampshire Yes No No No None No None 50%[61] No No No No B-
 New Jersey Yes No No Yes None No None 19%[62] No No No Yes A-
 New Mexico No Yes No No None No None 88%[63] No No No Yes A-
 New York No No No No None No None 44%[64] No No No No A-
 North Carolina No Yes No No None No None 86%[65] Yes Yes No No D+
 North Dakota Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 98%[66] Yes Yes No No F
 Ohio Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes 90%[67] Yes No No No F
 Oklahoma Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 96%[68] Yes No No No F
 Oregon No Yes No No None No None 78%[69] No No No Yes A
 Pennsylvania Yes No No No Yes No Yes 78%[70] Yes Yes No No F
 Rhode Island Yes No No Yes No No Yes 80%[71] Yes Yes No No D+
 South Carolina No Yes No Yes Yes No Yes 91%[72] Yes Yes No No F
 South Dakota Yes No No* Yes None No None 98%[73] Yes No No No F
 Tennessee Yes No No Yes None No None 94%[74] Yes Yes No Yes D
 Texas Yes No No No Yes 24 hours Yes 93%[75] Yes Yes No No F
 Utah Yes No Yes Yes Yes No Yes 93%[76] Yes No No No F
 Vermont Yes No No No None No None 43%[77] No No No Yes A-
 Virginia No Yes Yes Yes Yes 24 hours Yes 86%[78] Yes Yes No No F
 Washington No No No No None No None 67%[79] No No Yes No A+
 West Virginia Yes No No Yes Yes No Yes 96%[80] Yes No No Yes B
 Wisconsin Yes No No Yes Yes 24 hours[81] Yes 93%[82] Yes Yes No No D+
 Wyoming Yes No No No None No None 96%[83] Yes Yes No No D+

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ States probe limits of abortion policy
  2. ^ Interactive maps comparing U.S. abortion restrictions by state, LawServer
  3. ^ "The Constitution of the United States of America: As Amended". 2007-07-25. Retrieved 2009-02-17. 
  4. ^ Report, Committee on the Judiciary, U.S. Senate, on Senate Joint Resolution 3, 98th Congress, 98-149, June 7, 1983, p. 6.
  5. ^ Baptist Health South Florida, [1] (2009).
  6. ^ Denmark
  7. ^ "Access to Abortion" (PDF). National Abortion Federation. 2003. Archived from the original on 19 June 2007. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  8. ^ "Public Funding for Abortion" (map)
  9. ^ Statement of Sufficiency (pdf). Secretary of State. State of Colorado. May 29, 2008.
  10. ^ Personhood Initiative '08. Colorado for Equal Rights.
  11. ^ Election result 2008
  12. ^ http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/06/17623840-kansas-lawmakers-pass-sweeping-anti-abortion-legislation?lite
  13. ^ Alford, Jeremy (June 7, 2006). "Louisiana Governor Plans to Sign Anti-Abortion Law". The New York Times. Retrieved April 23, 2010. 
  14. ^ MacIntyre, Krystal. "Mississippi abortion ban bill fails as legislators miss deadline for compromise", Jurist News Archive (2006-03-28). Retrieved 2007-01-23.
  15. ^ Curry, Tom. MSNBC.com "[2]". Retrieved 2011-11-9.
  16. ^ North Dakota Personhood Bill Passes, First in US History - Standard Newswire
  17. ^ "US state's 'personhood' law would hit birth control: opponents" 2009-02-18 AFP
  18. ^ S.D. Makes Abortion Rare Through Laws And Stigma - washingtonpost.com
  19. ^ HB 1233 establish a task force to study abortion and to
  20. ^ April 17, 2006 | The Nation
  21. ^ South Dakota has banned abortion - is your state next? : Indybay
  22. ^ South Dakota Nixes Abortion Ban; Michigan Voters OK Anti-Affirmative Action Initiative - Politics | Republican Party | Democratic Party | Political Spectrum - F...
  23. ^ Sarah Weddington (11 February 2013). "Roe v Wade". The Handbook of Texas. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  24. ^ "Map :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  25. ^ "State Facts About Abortion". 
  26. ^ "Map :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  27. ^ "Map :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  28. ^ Retrieved 2012-08-31 "2012 REPORT CARD ON WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS". 
  29. ^ "Alabama :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  30. ^ "Alaska :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  31. ^ "Arizona :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  32. ^ "Arkansas :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  33. ^ "California :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  34. ^ "Colorado :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  35. ^ "Colorado :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  36. ^ "Connecticut :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  37. ^ "Delaware :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  38. ^ "Florida :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  39. ^ "Georgia :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  40. ^ "Hawaii :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  41. ^ "Idaho :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  42. ^ "Idaho Gov. Signs Parental Consent Notification Law for Minors Seeking Abortion". 
  43. ^ "Idaho :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  44. ^ "Illinois :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  45. ^ Indiana :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  46. ^ Iowa :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  47. ^ Kansas :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  48. ^ Kentucky :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  49. ^ "Requirements for Ultrasound". 
  50. ^ "Louisiana :: NARAL Pro-Choice America". 
  51. ^ Maine :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  52. ^ Maryland :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  53. ^ Massachusetts :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  54. ^ Michigan :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  55. ^ Minnesota :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  56. ^ Mississippi :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  57. ^ Missouri :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  58. ^ Montana :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  59. ^ Nebraska :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  60. ^ Nevada :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  61. ^ New Hampshire :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  62. ^ New Jersey :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  63. ^ New Mexico :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  64. ^ New York :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  65. ^ North Carolina :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  66. ^ North Dakota :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  67. ^ Ohio :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  68. ^ Oklahoma :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  69. ^ Oregon :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  70. ^ Pennsylvania :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  71. ^ Rhode Island :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  72. ^ South Carolina :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  73. ^ South Dakota :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  74. ^ Tennessee :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  75. ^ Texas :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  76. ^ Utah :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  77. ^ Vermont :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  78. ^ Virginia :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  79. ^ Washington :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  80. ^ West Virginia :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  81. ^ Reilly, Mollie (June 14, 2013). "Wisconsin Mandatory Ultrasound Bill Passes State Assembly, Heads To Scott Walker's Desk". Huffington Post. 
  82. ^ Wisconsin :: NARAL Pro-Choice America
  83. ^ Wyoming :: NARAL Pro-Choice America

External links[edit]

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