It is evident that the debate concerning abortion is getting tighter and tighter. There is an eminent gap between those who support abortion (pro-choice) and those who do not (pro-life). Moreover there differences have become too fundamental for compromise. The issue of abortion has also been taken up by politicians as most Americans continuously tune in to this hot debate. However, putting aside all matters dealing with personal opinions, there are numerous important issues that deal with the balancing of personal rights with potential new life. Notably, the laws that govern abortion in the United States today seem very controversial. There is disunity among the various states concerning laws that define a legal abortion, which brings out the society’s conflicting regarding abortion. According to the constitution, abortion laws have three main parts. The first part deals with the definition of what an illegal abortion is, the second deals with legal abortion, while the last deals with notice and consent. There are also small sections that deal with waiting periods, penalties for violating the law, abortionists’ licensing requirements, and residency requirements. However, despite the sections clearly defining themselves, they are impossible to compare. This is due to the fact that the Supreme Court has caused the laws to be unsettled through inconsistent rulings. It is evident that numerous state legislatures have not yet enacted legislation as they wait for the outcome of different federal legislation and lawsuits. Furthermore, the Court has preempted the states’ power to legislate in areas like spousal notification, waiting periods, and others as well.
Notably, all the states work with the presumption that abortion is a crime; unrestricted abortion is not legal in any of the states. However, all state statutes have definitions of legal abortions. There are some states that define an illegal abortion in terms of legal abortion, for example, they define it as the failure to meet the criterion of legal abortion. Notably, the definition of legal abortion is given as the destruction of a nonviable fetus. There are other states in the East and the South, which define illegal abortions without any reference to legal definitions of abortion. As a fact, some of the states include the statement that abortion will be illegal if the mother dies. The remaining states define abortion with limits that apply to when an abortion can be acceptable. There are those that define an illegal abortion as an activity with the intention of destroying an unborn child or produce an abortion if the mother dies unless it is meant to save a mother.
The universal definition of legal abortion is in terms of the mother’s health or convenience. Few of these definitions mention about the health or life of the fetus, however, they refer to its viability, without any other attempt to define the term, as a standard for when an abortion can be carried out with impunity. Notably, the definitions are objective by the fact that there are specific time parameters set, which abortion cannot be legal outside them. However, there are states such as Alaska and Hawaii, which define an illegal abortion openly. They define that any act that is contrary to the legal definition will definitely be illegal. Something common with all states is that they give extra instances when abortion may be legal after establishing the viability. The additional instances are usually to save the mother’s life or if severe defects are detected in the fetus. Another subject that has become controversial in numerous states is the issue of partial birth abortion. This term refers to the abortion in which the individual performing the abortion intentionally or deliberately delivers a living fetus for the purpose of performing a procedure that the individual knows will kill the fetus, goes ahead with the procedure, does away with the fetus, and completes the delivery process. Recent years has seen numerous states limiting or banning the practice of this procedure altogether. Notably, the regulation of abortion had been left to individual states before 1973. However, things changed in the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court in 1973. It decided that the Constitution did protect a woman’s right to abort, a right that was to be found in the unstated right to privacy, and from state regulation during the first three months of pregnancy. Besides that, the Court also held that the states had an important, as well as, a legitimate interest into protecting the potentiality of human life. A common factor is that the abortion issue has always been revolving around the various states’ consequent attempts at protecting the life that is unborn. After the Roe incident, the Supreme Court has made abortion to be an area of law that is highly unsettled.
What is evident is the fact that numerous statutes reflect attempts by states at balancing the right of a woman to decide on abortion with the interest of the states in protecting the life of a fetus. There are some statutes in the state codes that may become unconstitutional if they are challenged. There are several general areas dealing with the legislation of abortion, as well as, the Supreme Court’s treatment of each. In Parental Consent, states may require that a minor who seeks an abortion have the consent of an older person like a parent or a guardian keeping in mind the presence of an adequate judicial bypass procedure. In matters dealing with Informed Consent, a state may require that a physician avails a woman with information such as sources of financial aid, alternatives to abortion, the gestational stage of the child, and the development of the child. In Spousal Consent, a state can require that a married woman obtains the husband’s consent before performing the abortion. In Abortion Method, a state may not require the medical practitioner performing the abortion to make use of a method that provides the best opportunity for the fetus to survive the abortion. Parental Notice states that a state may require a parent be notified of a minor’s abortion and not two. In matters dealing with the Waiting Period, a twenty-four hour waiting period is not involved with an undue burden on a woman who has decided to abort and hence becomes constitutional. In Second Physician, a state may not require that another physician be present at the abortion to be in charge of a live child as a result of abortion unless there is an exception for when the mother was in danger.