U.S. regulations and restrictions on Abortion

In GQ for a reason, not looking to debate.

Just want to know in the United Staes what regulations and restrictions are currently placed on Abortion. Looking for a comprehensive list. Also, do abortion laws set at a Federal level allow for variations a State levels?

Some states have restrictions. Some have been upheld in the Supreme Courts, others have not, and still others haven’t been tested yet.

There are also various abortion laws on the books. Roe v. Wade invalidated those that made abortion illegal, but if it were reversed completely (I don’t think thats as likely as various restrictions being upheld*), then the state laws would govern the rules in each state.

*th’ Supreme Court follows th’ illiction returns."

Most abortion laws are set at the state level. There are guidelines from the US Supreme Court that invalidated some state laws, but the majority of the actual legislation is at the state level.

Since these regulations are mostly done at the state level it is too hard to list abortion regulations here. If you are interested though some people have collected a (seemingly) comprehensive list.

State Abortion Laws: A Survey

Also, Roe v. Wade is not so much the main precedent for abortion in the US anymore. It has largely been supplanted by Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833. The SCOTUS upheld the basic premise of Roe in as much as abortion cannot be outlawed but Casey allows greater restrictions than Roe did.

Note that there are federal abotion regulations. In 2003, Congress passed a federal ban on so-called partial birth abortions. Enforcement of the ban has been enjoined by some federal judges, so it does not apply uniformly throughout the country (and I don’t know if it’s currently in force anywhere, actually). However, that case hasn’t been to the Supreme Court yet, so it’s an open question as to whether it will ever be enforced or struck down.


Are there any states in which abortion on demand is illegal, no ifs ands or buts?

Nope. While Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 allowed for greater restrictions on abortion (such as upholding parental notification laws IIRC) it did not go so far as to overturn Roe v. Wade which, at the bottom, stipulates that abortions cannot be completely outlawed. Since the Supreme Court determines constitutional questions and there is no higher law than the constitution no state or even the federal government can ban abortions completely. The only way to do so will be the SCOTUS reversing Roe.

Whether you think the SCOTUS went too far in Roe is another debate and one that has been done many times in GD. If you are interested do a search for it there.

I do not believe there are states in which anything is illegal, no ifs ands or buts.

But If I remember correctly, Virginia recognizes fetuses(feti?) as citizens that have full rights, so theoretically you could be cpnvicted for murder or manslaughter, however it would be overturned in an appeals court based on federal precedent.

I was under the impression that a SCOTUS case from 1994 or so placed the matter back in the hands of the states, so to speak. IOW, the SCOTUS didn’t overturn Roe v. Wade, but allowed the states to deal with it on a state-by-state basis. But the states are still forbidden from enacting an outright ban on abortion?


I think you are thinking of Casey but I am no constitutional law expert so there may have been something else I am forgetting. This should answer your question:

Couldn’t the states attempt a Constitutional Ammendment? If such an unlikly event did occur SCOTUS then would be required to enforce a ban. :frowning:

Sure they could and then SCOTUS would be bound to uphold it. Thing is a Constitutional Amendment is a very difficult thing to get through (as it should be…founding fathers didn’t want that document messed with lightly which was a wise move). I guarantee you if anti-abortion advocates thought they had the votes to get an amendment through they’d be doing it (and vice versa with pro-choice advocates).

Indeed, for years both sides have tried to get a consitutional amendment to support their position. This scares the politicians spitless. If “Social Security is the third rail of American politics” then abortion is the whole damn electrical grid.

Thanks, Whack-a-Mole!
I kinda figured this was the kind of question that would be best answered by simply providing a good link. The link that you provided was just what I was looking for.

A few thinks from the link that I’m not entirely clear on.

How strictly defined is “Post-Viability”? Is it subjective? Is there a clear dividing line based on how many weeks along the pregnancy is? Are their certain criteria that are held in comparison the the individual fetus’ development? Is there a single working definition or does it vary from state to state?

In states where there are no Post-Viability Bans is abortion allowed all the way up into the final weeks of pregnancy?

Also, how are “Informed Consent” laws defined?