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When Is Termination Of Pregnancy Withinthe Law

When is Termination of Pregnancy Within the Law?

The legality of abortion in the United States has been a contentious issue for decades, with ongoing debates and legal challenges. The Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion, but subsequent rulings have placed restrictions on this right.

Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that the right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment includes a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy. The Court established a trimester framework for regulating abortion:

  • First trimester (up to 12 weeks): States cannot restrict abortion access.
  • Second trimester (13-24 weeks): States can regulate abortion to protect the woman’s health.
  • Third trimester (after 24 weeks): States can prohibit abortion except to save the woman’s life or health.

In 1992, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the essential holding of Roe v. Wade in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. However, Casey allowed states to impose certain restrictions on abortion, such as mandatory waiting periods and parental notification requirements.

Restrictions on Abortion Access

Since Roe v. Wade, states have enacted numerous laws to restrict abortion access. These restrictions include:

  • Waiting periods: Requiring women to wait a certain number of hours or days before obtaining an abortion.
  • Parental notification: Requiring minors to obtain parental consent or notification before obtaining an abortion.
  • Ultrasound requirements: Requiring women to undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion.
  • Bans on specific abortion methods: Prohibiting certain methods of abortion, such as dilation and evacuation (D&E).
  • Gestational limits: Banning abortions after a certain point in pregnancy, such as 20 or 24 weeks.

Challenges to Abortion Restrictions

Many abortion restrictions have been challenged in court. Some courts have upheld these restrictions, while others have struck them down as unconstitutional.

  • Waiting periods: The Supreme Court has upheld waiting periods of up to 24 hours.
  • Parental notification: The Supreme Court has upheld parental notification laws that include a judicial bypass option for minors who cannot obtain parental consent.
  • Ultrasound requirements: The Supreme Court has struck down ultrasound requirements that do not provide an exception for women who have a medical emergency.
  • Bans on specific abortion methods: The Supreme Court has struck down bans on D&E, ruling that it is a safe and common abortion method.
  • Gestational limits: The Supreme Court has upheld gestational limits of 24 weeks or more, but has struck down bans on abortions before viability (around 24 weeks).

Current Legal Landscape

The legal landscape surrounding abortion access is constantly evolving. In recent years, several states have enacted restrictive abortion laws, while others have expanded access to abortion.

  • Restrictive laws: Some states have passed "heartbeat bills" that ban abortions as early as six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. Other states have passed laws that prohibit abortions based on the race, sex, or disability of the fetus.
  • Expanded access: Some states have passed laws that protect abortion rights, such as repealing parental notification laws or expanding insurance coverage for abortion.


The legality of abortion in the United States is a complex and ever-changing issue. While Roe v. Wade remains the law of the land, states have been given significant leeway to restrict abortion access. The ongoing legal battles over abortion reflect the deep divisions in American society over this issue.

As the legal landscape continues to shift, it is important for individuals to stay informed about the laws in their state and to advocate for their reproductive rights. Access to safe and legal abortion is essential for women’s health and autonomy.

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