State Abortion Laws (U.S.)
Prior to 1973, abortion was a states issue; most abortions, in most states were illegal.
Though individual states have retained some narrow, legal outlets for regulating abortion, Roe vs. Wade forbids them from outlawing abortion during the first trimester and binds them to an extremely broad "health" exception during the second and third trimester.
Ever since Roe v. Wade, abortion has been a federal issue. Should Roe be overturned in the future, abortion would not thereby be outlawed. It would simply be returned to the jurisdiction of the states. Prior to Roe, most abortions were illegal in most states. California and Colorado (in 1967) were the first states to legalize abortion in selective circumstances (rape, incest, severe handicap or pregnancies that threatened the life of the mother). In 1970, New York, Alaska, Washington and Hawaii became the only states to offer an "unrestricted" abortion policy similar to the one established through Roe v. Wade. Ever since Roe, the judgment of which was handed down on January 22, 1973, states have been forbidden from outlawing abortion during the first trimester and are bound to offer mental and physical health exceptions during the second and third trimester. Nevertheless, Roe does grant states some narrow, legal outlets for regulating abortion.
Parental Notification and Parental Consent laws exist in many states as a means of limiting abortion among minors. Parental Notification laws require that a parent is notified before their minor daughter can receive an abortion, and Parental Consent laws require that the parent consent to their minor daughter's abortion. The Alan Guttmacher Institute (the research arm of Planned Parenthood) has an entire section of their website devoted to state abortion law. While their agenda is deplorable, the information is helpful. They report that currently (June 2010) 34 states actively require Parental Notification or Consent. Seven states (Alaska, California, Illinois, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, and New Mexico) have Parental Notification laws that are not being enforced, and ten states (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington + Washington D.C.) have no Parental Notification or Consent laws on the books.
Thirty states have bans against "partial-birth" abortion (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). Of these bans, only 16 are actually in effect (Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia).
Seventeen states require that women receive counseling prior to their abortion that includes information on at least one of the following: the link between abortion and breast cancer, the ability of a fetus to feel pain, the mental health consequences of abortion, or information on the availability of ultrasound (Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin).
Twenty-four states mandate that women wait a specified amount of time (usually 24 hours) between receiving counseling and obtaining an abortion (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin). Only five states require abortion counseling to be done in person: Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Utah, and Wisconsin.
Seventeen states use public funds to pay for abortions (Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montanna, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia). Thirty-three states prohibit using public funds to pay for abortions except in cases when federal funds are available (Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
For more information on individual, state abortion laws, visit the National Right to Life state affiliate websites:
This page was last updated on October 10, 2018. To cite this page in a research paper, visit: "Citing Abort73 as a Source."