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What are Abortion Laws?

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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 November 2016
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Abortion laws are laws that relate to various abortion-related practices in a particular region or country. These laws determine whether performing and obtaining an abortion is legal or illegal. Also, they determine the legality of the methods of abortion and the requirements the doctor, mother, and fetus must meet. There are no universal laws regarding abortion. International abortion laws vary widely depending on the location, and even in the US, abortion laws vary by state.

Typically, guidelines covering the types of abortions that are legal or illegal are the chief kinds of policies abortion laws cover. There are several different methods of abortion, and within guidelines covering those types are also guidelines covering time limits. Some laws only allow for abortions within the first trimester of pregnancy. Others allow abortions in the second and even third trimesters, perhaps with or without meeting certain criteria. Many areas have laws that take a stance on what constitutes the legality of second and third trimester abortions, as well as types such as partial-birth abortion.

Some abortion laws include legislation about health-related matters that make an abortion legal or illegal. For example, legal abortion is present in some areas if terminating the pregnancy is necessary for the health or life of the mother. These laws might also include the quality of life and health of the fetus. In other areas, abortion is illegal regardless of the physical or mental health importance or the life-saving necessity. Furthermore, many areas take into consideration the roles incest and rape played in conception to determine whether an abortion will be legal or illegal.

If the abortion laws of a particular area deem performing and obtaining an abortion is legal, they might span to include certain requirements and prevent specific practices. For example, some areas require pregnant women to complete a waiting period between visiting the clinic or hospital and receiving the abortion. During this waiting period, the women might also be required to receive counseling before the facility will perform the abortion. Generally, this is to ensure the pregnant woman has been provided with enough information and time to make an informed decision without obstructing her right to receive a legal abortion. As of early 2011, 24 states in America require waiting periods and counseling sessions, though each of them waives that requirement if the mother’s life or health is in danger.

Other requirements some abortion laws put in place include age requirements and parental consent requirements. Some laws dictate whether the procedure can be performed at a clinic or whether it must be performed at a hospital. There are also laws that specify how many physicians must participate in the procedure, which circumstances require more than one physician, and whether a physician can refuse to participate in the procedure.

Funding is often present in laws regarding abortion. Some laws allow public funding to pay for abortions, and others don’t. Many laws cover whether a health insurance policy is required to cover abortions and under which circumstances health insurance coverage can and can’t pay for abortions.

There are several resources people can use to learn about the specific abortion laws of an area. Such resources include medical personnel, organizations that deal with family planning and birth control, and even religious institutions. Of course, people can access their own area’s government laws regarding abortion via the Internet, public libraries, and their area representatives.

Discuss this Article

ZipLine
Post 3

@SteamLouis-- I'm not an expert on this, but don't clinics want to know that someone is a resident of that state or not before carrying out an abortion? If not, they should.

I think that state abortion laws are effective. Most people are not going to drive hundreds of miles away to get an abortion. And those who are underage will need parental consent, etc.

Underage girls wanting abortions is actually a serious issue. We don't want people making rash decisions when it comes to life. So it's important that their parents know and approve. It's also important for every woman to understand the consequences of abortion.

SteamLouis
Post 2

Are state abortion laws even effective in the US?

Abortion is not allowed in my state. My friend wanted an abortion so she drove to a clinic in the neighboring state to get it. I think many people do this, so it seems like state abortion laws are not even effective.

turquoise
Post 1

As far as I understand, there are two types of opinions about abortion laws. One opinion is that abortion is about a woman's body and no one, aside from the woman, has a say about the matter. People who hold this opinion are against abortion laws altogether. They don't feel that government, state or federal, has a right to regulate this.

The other opinion is that although the fetus is inside the woman's body, it is technically a separate individual. And woman cannot decide to terminate pregnancy without any restriction or regulation. People who hold this opinion are either strongly for abortion laws and would like to see abortion outlawed in essence. Or they're not entirely against abortion but

feel that it should be regulated and allowed in certain circumstances.

Abortion laws have been and will continue to be one of the most controversial topics in the US. I don't think that people will lose interest in abortion laws anytime soon.

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