What Are Abortion Laws?
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.