Family Law

Making the Choice to Terminate a Pregnancy

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in Roe vs. Wade that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy, also called having an abortion. This law applies in all 50 states. This law applies only to the woman. The man who impregnated her, even if he is her husband, has no legal say in the matter.

States Must Permit Terminating Pregnancies

Constitutional rights override states' rights. Each state, like it or not, must respect a woman's right to privacy - including the personal decision to terminate a pregnancy. The right to terminate a pregnancy is controversial. South Dakota, for example, has already passed a law that says if Roe vs. Wade is ever overturned, abortion will immediately be illegal in the state.

States Can Regulate Terminations of Pregnancy

Although individual states cannot completely ban abortion, they can put some limits on it. Michigan, South Carolina, and Georgia, for example, are states that require parental consent before a minor can have an abortion. Some states require counseling and 24 hour waiting periods before terminating a pregnancy.

Terminating Pregnancies and Women's Health

When the life of a pregnant woman is at risk, states can't enforce restrictions, such as a waiting period, to terminating a pregnancy. The law views the health of the woman as a top priority. A woman's doctor generally has the power to determine when her health is at risk and when terminating a pregnancy is a necessary protection.

Government Money and Terminating Pregnancies

Sometimes government money will pay for a woman to terminate a pregnancy. Federal government money can only be used for abortions in limited situations. For example, federal funds may be used to terminate a pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, or to save a woman's life. Generally, states place similar restrictions on spending their money for abortions. If a woman wishes to terminate a pregnancy for other reasons, the law generally requires her to find the money from private sources.

A Family Law Lawyer Can Help

The laws surrounding termination of a pregnancy can be complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a family law lawyer.

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