Abortion was legal under federal law for 50 years, until the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court case brought the year of jubilee to preborn lives across the nation.
Between all of the contention around the issue, many are left unsure of what the laws surrounding abortion actually are in the US.
Each state has its own laws and regulations, including laws regarding abortion, and the laws vary from state to state.
What is the current legal status of abortion in a post-Roe abortion landscape? Let’s dive into the history of abortion to uncover what rights are associated with the protection or denial of an abortion.
Constitutional Rights and Abortion
The Constitution guarantees the right to life for all individuals, regardless of age or location. This raises questions about where the rights of the mother end and the rights of the preborn baby begin.
When the Constitution was written, abortion was not socially acceptable. The Constitution was written keeping agreed-upon truth from the Declaration of Independence in mind: “That all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Historic overview of abortion in the US
In the landmark Supreme Court case of Roe v. Wade, the US Supreme Court ruled that women have a constitutional right to privacy under the 14th Amendment, including the decision to have an abortion.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. – Section One of the 14th amendment:
The benefits of the 14th Amendment were argued to only apply to “persons born or naturalized” and not preborn lives. The mother’s rights and privacy trumped the life of a preborn baby until personhood was established by fetal viability.
Around the time of Roe v. Wade in 1973, fetal viability was between 24 and 28 weeks’ gestation (we know now that a preborn heartbeat can, with our current technology, be detected as early as six weeks). Roe legalized abortion until fetal viability based on the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th amendment. Yet, state laws still varied in their individual governance over the issue.
The law protected abortion under Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey for over 50 years.
Current legal landscape of abortion rights
With the recent ruling that overturned Roe, abortion was left up to the states to decide their own laws and regulations. Some states enacted total bans or strict regulations on abortion procedures, while others have become abortion vacation spots, inviting mothers to cross state lines for an abortion.
Some states allow abortions to only be performed up to a certain point in the pregnancy, yet others allow late-term abortions.
For example, states like California, New York, and Washington have fewer restrictive abortion policies compared to states like Alabama or Mississippi. In more restrictive states, the law may include mandatory waiting periods, parental consent for minors, and limitations on Medicaid coverage for abortion services, as well as limitations beyond a certain gestational age of a preborn baby for when an abortion could be committed.
Types of Abortions
There are different types of abortions, including surgical and medication-induced (AKA the abortion pill). While abortion is often marketed as a simple “choice,” it is important to understand the physical, emotional, and ethical complexities involved in this life-altering decision.
With abortion “safe haven” states ushering women to visit their state for an abortion, the abortion pill is being used more and more for a majority of abortions, being trafficked across state lines or mailed to women’s doors.
Abortion at home
Medical abortions, also known as medication-induced abortions, are performed by taking two drugs – mifepristone and misoprostol. These drugs work together to end the life of the preborn baby and expel it from the mother’s body. With increased access to the abortion pill, there is an increased risk that women will be uninformed of the complexity, pain, and trauma having an abortion at home entails.
Abortion pill safety concerns and guidelines
The abortion pill is not all-of-a-sudden safe and effective now that it is highly marketed and glorified as such. It is dangerous to both the mother and baby. Serious complications such as infection and hemorrhaging can occur.
It is estimated that over half of abortions are medication-induced. With the pill being the more popular abortion method over the most recent decades, there was a 500% increase in chemical abortion-related ER visits between 2002 and 2015.
Additionally, the abortion pill has been linked to an increased risk of future preterm births and emotional distress for the mother. Surgical abortions also carry significant risks. These include infections, uterine perforation, damage to the cervix or other organs, and excessive bleeding.
Abortion clinics pushing out the abortion pill without oversight beckons the question as to what else they are neglecting.
Post-abortive women need attention and care in their physical and emotional recovery.
While abortion may seem like a quick fix to an unexpected pregnancy, it can have long-lasting effects on the woman’s health and well-being.
It is essential for women to know that there are resources available to them after they have undergone an abortion. They are not alone.
Abortion might be the most popular and pushed “solution” to an unplanned pregnancy, but that doesn’t mean it is the right answer. There are abortion alternatives that promote life and provide loving support to women facing unexpected pregnancies. These include adoption, parenting resources, and pregnancy resource centers that offer free services such as ultrasounds, counseling, and material assistance.
Many women are searching for healing, forgiveness, freedom from shame and bondage after having abortions.
Pregnancy Resource Clinics offer post-abortive care and counseling, and some churches offer resources to connect women to support groups. Yet, with all these resources, there is only One who sets the captives free, who offers complete healing and deliverance. His name is Jesus.
He came to “…heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound…” —Isaiah 61:1 (NKJV).
Just as the overturning of Roe marked a turning point for freedom, releasing from captivity the preborn lives of our nation, the time of jubilee is also to grant freedom to regretful mothers from bondage.
Abortion laws in the US have been complex and ever-changing, but the value of every human life remains constant.
It is important to be informed about the legal landscape and consequences of abortion. Women should be educated on the reality of the abortion procedures and understand all of their options so they can feel empowered with informed consent.
There is an army of support available to women facing unplanned pregnancies.
Abortion should not be a decision made alone and at home.
There is help and freedom when we choose to walk out of darkness and bring our fear and shame into the light.