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Shirey Seigworth

Dr. Baumann
PL SC 001
February 7, 2014
Abortion Policy
Abortion is and has been one of the most hotly debated legal and moral topics throughout
history. Although abortion is legal federally, state and local governments have the ability to
somewhat restrict abortion laws. Abortions have been performed for thousands of years and were
legal up until the mid to late 1800s (History of Abortion). Abortions became illegal because they
were dangerous because of a lack of medical technology and doctors wanted restrictions so that
their less qualified competitors could not perform them either (History of Abortion). However,
the outlawing of abortion had an outcome worse than the doctor fatality rates: back alley
abortions. From 1967 to 1973, states began to legalize abortion (History of Abortion). Abortion
finally became legal in all states in 1973 when the Supreme Court ruled so in Roe v. Wade. In
1992, in the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey the Supreme Court ruled that states can
restrict pre-viability abortions (History of Abortion). This ruling allows states to put
unnecessary restrictions of first trimester abortions in order to make the process more difficult.
In 2003, Congress passed a bill putting a federal ban on abortion but the National Abortion
Federation challenged it in court and won (History of Abortion).
The federal government recognizes the right to abortion as constitutional. This means
that all women are guaranteed the right to choose to terminate an unwanted pregnancy because it
is within their right to personal privacy. The federal law declares that a state cannot outlaw or
regulate any abortions during the first trimester, but can have regulations for the womens health
in the second and third trimester, and protect the life of the fetus in the third trimester (McBride).
Originally, the federally funded Medicaid program covered abortions, however, today the federal
government does not use taxpayers money to go towards abortion, except in cases of incest,
rape, and threat to a womans health (History of Abortion). Although the federal government
protects a womans right to choose, states can impose many hoops for women to jump through in
order to get an abortion. States such as Texas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and many other southern
and Midwestern states have been in the news in the past year for their increasingly restrictive
regulations placed on abortion. States can choose to make rules on when an abortion needs to be
performed in a hospital, whether or not private health insurances can fund abortions, and the
ability of doctors and institutions to refuse to perform abortions because of personal beliefs (An
Overview of Abortion Laws). States can pass laws mandating counseling beforehand, waiting
periods, and parental consent (An Overview of Abortion Laws). There are 17 states that pay for
all or most cases of medically required abortions and 26 states that require a waiting time (An
Overview of Abortion Laws). In South Dakota, 98% of counties do not have access to abortion
providers (Abortion: 19 states). Many other conservative states have similar figures with
extremely low percentages. These numbers are effected by local governments. Although a town
cannot out right refuse to allow an abortion clinic (legally anyway) they find loopholes and ways
to not allow abortion providers in their town. Local governments can disallow abortion clinics
because of zoning and land use laws. If a local government finds any flaws in plans or any
negligible reason to not allow them they will take advantage of it and refuse to give a building
An expanded federal government has led to a growth in local and state governments
because with more power and rights extended to the national government there are more bills
and mandates that states and local governments need to implement. As with abortion, gay rights,
Medicare/Medicaid, unemployment insurance, interstate maintenance and many other federal
policies, states and local governments are required to abide by the laws and put them into action,
which often requires more people and power in the state and local governments. In the case of
abortion, the federal government has the power to grant women their right to choose but they
need to states to make sure this happens. With the power in states hands, they have the choice to
either follow the law as it was originally written or they can add small restrictions that make the
process more difficult because they do not fully support the law. Although the federal
government sets guidelines and tries to get states to execute them by partially funding the
projects, states can refuse to follow the rules sometimes in return lose funding. A state such as
New Hampshire has been historically know for live free or die and they have not accepted
federal money for policies that they do not like. The federal government is too large scale to
oversee all of their policies fully and the states and local governments have had to expand to help
oversee the employment of said procedures.

Works Cited
"Abortion: 19 states with toughest laws." CBS News. CBS, n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.
"History of Abortion." National Abortion Federation. NAF, n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2014.
McBride, Alex. "Landmark Cases: Casey v. Planned Parenthood." Public Broadcasting Station.
PBS, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2014.
"An Overview of Abortion Laws." State Policies in Brief. Guttmacher Institute, 1 Feb. 2014.
Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <>.