THE STATUS OF ABORTION IN AMERICA
The Status of the Law
In 1973, two U. S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton, radically changed the legal landscape of American abortion law. The combined effect of the rulings required abortion to be:
-legal for any woman, regardless of her age
-legal for any reason during the first seven months of pregnancy and for virtually any reason thereafter
Since 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the constitutionality of state laws that regulate and limit abortion in the following ways:
-requiring a parent to be notified or give consent before a minor daughter has an abortion, subject to a judicial bypass option which allows a teenage girl to involve a judge rather than her parent(s)
-requiring that women receive full medical disclosure of possible risks associated with and alternatives to abortion
-requiring that after receiving such information, adult women wait a period of 24 hours before having an abortion and minors wait 48 hours
-prohibiting the use of state money to fund abortions for low-income women, except when the mother’s life is threatened by continuing the pregnancy, or in cases of rape or incest when payment is authorized under the federal Hyde Amendment.
The United States has one of the highest abortion rates among developed countries” (Facts in Brief Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1995, New York, NY).
The number of reported legal abortions for selected years between 1972 and 1992, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Abortion Surveillance Report, May 3, 1996:
1972 – 586,760
1973 – 615,831
1976 – 988,267
1980 – 1,297,606
1985 – 1,328,570
1987 – 1,353,671
1989 – 1,396,658
1990 – 1,429,577
1991 – 1,388,937
1992 – 1,359,145
According to the CDC report, in 1992:
Roughly one-half of the women who had abortions in the U.S. had no other children.
Forty-four percent of the women who had abortions in the U.S. had at least one previous abortion.
Twenty-one percent of the women who had abortions in the U.S. were married; 79 percent were unmarried.
The percentage of teens (under 19 years of age) having abortions began to drop in the 1980s, coinciding with the passage and enforcement of laws requiring a parent’s involvement in their teenage daughter’s abortion decision:
1972 – 32.6
1973 – 32.7
1980 – 29.2
1985 – 26.3
1987 – 25.8
1990 – 22.4
1991 – 21.0
1992 – 20.1
A study of Minnesota’s teenage abortion rates before and after the enactment of the state’s parental notification law found that the abortion rates for teenage girls, ages 15-17, dropped with passage of the law (American Journal of Public Health “Impact of the Minnesota Parental Notification Law on Abortion and Birth, March 1991).
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of the nation’s leading abortion provider, Planned Parenthood: Unmarried women are six times more likely than married women to abort their unborn child. The highest abortion rate is among 18- to 19-year-old women: 56 per 1,000 women. About 15,000 abortions each year are attributed to rape and incest–representing one percent of all abortions.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY FOCUS ON THE FAMILY, 1995. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTED AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.