Abortion is a common medical procedure and one that women have been able to access in the U.S. since 1973, when the Supreme Court ruled on Roe v. Wade that a woman has the right to choose whether or not she wants an abortion. But over the years, states have enacted laws that make it harder for women to obtain abortions—including bans on specific procedures and waiting periods between appointments. These restrictions may seem like they’re just regulating doctors’ practices, but they can also affect your ability to get an abortion if you need one.
There are many ways in which state laws can make it harder for women to get abortions
These restrictions can limit access to abortion providers, like requiring doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at local hospitals or forcing clinics to meet the same standards as surgical centers, which would be prohibitively expensive and therefore shut down.
They also affect the procedures themselves: some states require women seeking abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy to first listen to the fetus’s heartbeat before they’re allowed an abortion; others mandate that women receive information about possible risks associated with having an abortion; still others ban certain types of procedures—such as dilation and evacuation (D&E), which is used after 14 weeks’ gestation—unless there are medical reasons for doing so. Additionally, some states prevent insurance companies from covering other forms of contraception if they also provide coverage for surgical abortions.
Bans on abortion before the viability of the fetus
In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban abortion before viability because this would be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment’s right to privacy and equal protection under law for women seeking abortions in their third trimester of pregnancy or later (after 20 weeks gestation). The court also found that states cannot impose an undue burden on women seeking abortion before viability — meaning any regulations that make it more difficult for a woman to access an abortion must have a valid health justification such as protecting her health or preventing risks associated with complications from an abortion procedure like infection or hemorrhaging.
Mandatory waiting periods
Mandatory waiting periods are laws that require women to wait a certain amount of time between receiving state-mandated counseling and having an abortion. Waiting periods can range from 24 hours to three days or more, and they’re intended to give women time to change their minds about ending their pregnancies. Because they’re considered TRAP laws, mandatory waiting periods are often criticized for being politically motivated on the part of legislators—they’re not necessarily intended for women’s health, but rather as an attempt at restricting access to abortions altogether.
As we’ve seen, many of the abortion laws in America today are meant to restrict access for women. And even though abortion is still legal in this country, these restrictions may make it harder for some people to get one. But there are also ways to fight back against these laws—and if you’re feeling frustrated or angry about them, call your Senators and Representatives directly so they know how important this issue is.