Abortion in the United States

By: Ginamaria Fry

In the United States, abortion is legal but throughout each state, the rules and restrictions of abortion vary. Abortion is a controversial topic in politics, society, and culture of the United States, and laws which date back to the 1900s. State governments have the power to regulate and limit the use of abortion throughout their state. Roe vs. Wade case is an important piece of abortion legislation and states that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s right to decide to have an abortion without excessive government restriction. Another law placed on abortion is the trigger law. This takes place in 12 of the 50 states and it states, “legislative bans on abortion that aren’t active while Roe is in place, but will be “triggered” and automatically make abortion illegal as soon as the landmark decision is overturned.” Although Roe vs. Wade protects women, states can have their own restrictions on the situations of abortion. 

Timeline by: Anika Tandon

Every state has at least one abortion clinic, and abortion is legal in all 50 states disregarding the restrictions the state may place. In the United States, 37 states require a licensed physician to perform an abortion, whereas 19 states require an abortion to be practiced in a hospital after a certain point of a women’s pregnancy. 17 states require a second physician to be involved in the abortion after a specific point through a pregnancy, according to Guttmacher.org. The physician and hospital requirements vary for each state as a result of some of the states having strict policies. A major controversy talked about with abortion is public funding and insurance policies. Abortions are an expensive procedure and there is conflict on how they should be paid for whether it is by your health insurance or yourself. 16 states use state funds to pay for all medical abortions for Medicaid enrollees while 33 states and the District of Columbia ban the use of state funds except in cases when federal funds are available such, or if the patient’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest case. In defiance of federal requirements, South Dakota limits funding to cases of life endangerment only.

Graphic by: Eden Cheung

“Abortion should be an option for all women no matter the circumstances, I think that insurance should cover it just as much as they would cover any other procedure,” said Shira Gabay (‘23).

The waiting term in a woman’s pregnancy is also another major factor in how controversial the abortion topic is. Some argue that after a certain period you should not be able to abort a fetus, while others argue that it should not matter how far into the pregnancy the women are. According to Insider, 25 of the 50 states require a time period of at most 24 hours from when the consult is performed to when the abortion should take place. 12 of these 25 states require the patient to make 2 separate trips to a clinic to achieve the complete abortion. Studies argue that waiting too long can increase suicide rates in patients due to becoming too attached to the fetus, and may also cause depression to the patient. Waiting periods can also have limitations due to medical data and statistics, some may have to wait longer for a consultation or for results from a consultation. 

For teen pregnancies, a disagreement is heard from politicians, citizens, and parents. Some wonder if parents should have a say in whether or not a teenage child gets an abortion. Some states argue consent, others argue notice, and others argue both. 37 states require a type of parental involvement in a minor’s case to have an abortion. 27 states require one or both parents to consent to the medical procedure, and 10 require that one or both parents be notified. In rare cases, a minor can get a judge’s permission to have an abortion without notifying a parent or guardian and needing consent. This is known as “Judicial Bypass.” Prices of abortion can be very expensive, and the price tends to increase after the first trimester of pregnancy.

“I think that abortion should be more lenient for teens because they do not have the resources that adults would pay for their treatments,” said Cadence Jadozinski (‘22).

Abortion rates can vary in states from $350-$950, not including insurance covering the procedure. Abortion services are different and vary from every state which makes it contentious and affects women differently in every area. 

Abortion access is different for many states and how easy it is to get the procedure can vary. New York, Vermont, Connecticut, California, Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii all have expanded access to abortion services and all their clinics make it super easy to get medical help. These states not only protect the right to abortion in their constitution but also have removed barriers to getting a safe and legal abortion, the reproductive health act states that abortion is still an option even if Roe vs. Wade is overturned. The law also removed limitations for time on abortions and allows clinicians to perform abortions after 24 or more weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s life is at risk or the fetus is not viable. Alaska, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, also protect the right to abortion, and have more mellow qualifications. Illinois passed Comprehension Abortion Legislation in 2019, which is extremely controversial as it states that husbands need to give wives consent to abortion and put several doctors at risk for criminal penalties. Southern states tend to use trigger bans and prohibit abortion if Roe v. Wade fails. New Hampshire, Virginia, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico, and all states under the bible belt and throughout the south, have strict requirements to qualify for abortion procedures.

“I think that all states should be open to easier abortion laws depending on the situation,” said Gabriella Fox (‘22).

To even consider abortion in these states you would have to be overturned by Roe v. Wade and go through the supreme court. Colorado, on the other hand, is one of only seven states that allows abortion at any time during pregnancy. Because abortions after 21 weeks are so limited, women from all across the country travel to Colorado for late-term abortions. In most expanded access states, abortion care must be covered by both private insurance and the Government. Most states have passed laws with some sort of limitation, such as gestational limits or the requirement that minors get parental approval. Many states have established themselves as anti-abortion territories, by restricting who can provide abortions, as well as where and when they can be performed, and who must pay for them. 

State governments have the authority to control and limit abortion throughout their jurisdiction. The Roe v. Wade case is a landmark in abortion law, stating that the Constitution protects a pregnant woman’s freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion without undue government interference. Abortion access varies by state, as does the ease with which the procedure can be obtained. Most states have enacted legislation, imposing some type of restriction such as gestational limitations or the requirement that minors obtain parental consent. By limiting who can administer abortions, many states have positioned themselves as anti-abortion zones.