BUSINESS LAW 1 MGT 251
MARCH 5, 2011
In an ideal world, young women would always have a close, positive relationship with their parents. Any woman who found herself in crisis because she is pregnant would naturally go to her parents for support and advice. But this is not a perfect world. Some women have less than ideal relationships with their parents; they have a legitimate fear that they will be physically abused or rejected from their home if their parents found out that they were pregnant. Other women are concerned about the negative effect that news of a pregnancy would have on their parent’s health. They feel a need to obtain an abortion without their parents being informed. Lawmakers are split along the usual conservative/liberal lines. Conservatives generally favor the parental consent or notification laws that would require that before a minor woman has an abortion, she has to either notify at least one parent or guardian, or obtain a court order permitting the abortion.
Abortion in the United Stated has been legal in every state since the United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, on January 22, 1973. Prior to ”Roe”, there were exceptions to the abortion ban in at least 10 states; “Roe” established that a woman has a right to self-determination (often referred to as a “right to privacy”) covering the decisions whether or not to carry a pregnancy to term, but this right must be balanced against a state’s interest in preserving fetal life.
Roe established a “trimester” system of increasing state interest in the life of the fetus corresponding to the fetus’s increasing “viability” (likelihood of survival outside the uterus) over the course of a pregnancy, such that states were prohibited from banning abortion early in pregnancy but allowed to impose increasing restrictions or outright bans later in pregnancy. That decision was modified by the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which upheld the “central holding” in Roe that there is a fundamental right to privacy encompassing the decision about abortion, but replacing the trimester system with the point of fetal viability (whenever it may occur) as defining a state’s right to override the woman’s autonomy. Casey also lowered the legal standard to which stat’s would be held in justifying restrictions imposed on a woman’s rights; Roe had held this to be “strict scrutiny” – the traditional Supreme Court test for impositions upon fundamental Constitutional rights – whereas Casey created a new standard referring to “undue burden”, specifically to balance the state’s and the woman’s interests in the case of abortion.
Before Roe v. Wade, abortions was legal in several areas of the country, but that decision imposed a uniform framework for state legislation on the subject, and established a minimal period during which abortion must be legal (under greater or lesser degrees of restriction throughout the pregnancy). That basic framework, modified in Casey, remains nominally in place, although the effective availability of abortion varies significantly from state to state. Abortion remains one of the most controversial topics in United States culture and politics.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that, anywhere in the U.S. a woman and her doctor may decide to terminate a pregnancy during the first trimester and no significant state is allowed, state governments can restrict abortion access after the first trimester with laws intended to protect the woman’s health, and once the fetus is viable, an abortion must still be available if the woman’s health or life are at risk. State governments are free to pass legislation that will allow or prohibit late-term abortions – those on a viable fetus – for other reasons.
The Roe v. Wade case involved a pregnant single woman (“Roe”) who brought a class action challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws, which prohibited any abortion