Abortion Rights, Here and There
THUNDER BAY, ONTARIO ~~~~~ November 13, 2022 (LSNews) Abortion rights have become almost a symbolic fixture of the feminist movement. Such phrases as my body, my choice, or women’s reproductive rights, or it’s a woman’s right to choose are common refrains from feminists when they talk about the right to an abortion. The right to choose or the right to life are often two solitudes that have surfaced again, in the US, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, which had made abortion a constitutional right some 50 years ago.
The move returned decisions, regarding abortion laws, back to the jurisdiction of individual states. Pro-choice advocates were concerned that some states would enact, what they view, as draconian laws on abortion. This included imposing tighter pregnancy term limits, stricter conditions under which women may obtain legal abortions, or outright banning abortions, no matter what. Some states, indeed do now have very stringent abortion laws, while others do not. The following is a run down of state abortion laws since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade.
The only state where abortion is illegal with no exceptions is Tennessee. The one caveat is that a doctor who performed an abortion in order to save a woman’s life, may use that as their legal defence in a criminal case.
Abortion is illegal with limited exceptions
Abortion is also illegal in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, and can only to be performed to preserve the life of the woman. Abortion is illegal in Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana*, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming, with the following exceptions: preserving the life or health of the woman; when there are severe fetal abnormalities; or in cases of rape and incest (which in most cases must have been reported to law enforcement). *cases of rape or incests before 10 weeks, post fertilization.
Abortion is Legal with Strict Limitations
Abortion is legal in Iowa, Georgia* and Ohio up to the detection of a fetal heartbeat, (six weeks), and are only allowed to preserve the life of the woman. No exceptions for rape or incest. *Abortions after the sixth week are decriminalized in the Georgia cities of Atlanta and Savannah.
Abortion is legal in Florida up to 15 weeks, with the exception of preserving the life or health of the woman or if the fetus has a fatal abnormality. It does not permit exemptions in cases of rape, incest or human trafficking.
Abortion is Legal Up To Fetal Viability, with Exemptions Beyond Fetal Viability
Abortion is legal up to fetal viability (ranges from 20 to 28 weeks state to state), Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, and Washington. Reasons for abortion beyond the viability term limits include, cases of rape or incest, preserving the life or health of the mother and in cases of serious fetal abnormality.
Where Abortion is Legal Unconditionally
Abortion is legal, during all stages of pregnancy, including the third trimester in Alaska, California, New Jersey, New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, and Vermont.
So, the US situation regarding abortion laws is extreme at both ends of the spretrum. From no abortion under virtually any circumstances, to abortion on demand during all states of pregnancy, including up until just before birth. Both extremes are controversial. The idea of not allowing women to terminate a pregnancy under any circumstance, particularly in cases or rape or incest or if her life is at risk, seems unreasonable to many. Yet, so does the notion that a woman should be allowed to terminate her pregnancy for any reason, right up until the moment before the baby (and it is a baby by then) is born. Proponents of the latter, maintain,assuredly, that such late term abortions, are very, very rare, and usually involve health issues around the mother or child, that is, unless you think like this woman.
Despite the strict limitations on abortions in some states, American women still have options to open to them. States where abortions are legal have declared that they will perform out-of-state abortions for women from states with strict abortion laws. Even some corporations and businesses like Amazon, Expedia, Bank of America, and Bloomberg, to name a few, have announced they will cover travel expenses for female employees who must travel out state to get a legal abortion. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada, where abortions are legal*, has indicated that Canada can become a ‘safe haven’ for American women affected by the Supreme Court decision, although details, regarding the mechnaics of that, are rather vague.
Suffice it to say, American women won’t be forced into bathrooms using a coat hanger on themselves to end a pregnancy as Whoopi Goldberg, portended in an impassioned speech she made regarding the Court ruling, on ‘The View’.
As pro-choice advocates continue to battle it out in the states, many are likely of the opinion that many parts of Europe are extremely liberal and progressive when it comes to women’s rights and reproductive health choices. However if they actually took a close look they might be surprised by what they find.
Take the Nordic countries for example, which are often held up by ‘progressives’ as the hallmark when it comes to women rights and reproductive choices. Yet, the term limit for unconditional abortion on demand is between 12 and 18 weeks, in these countries, much lower than the majority of American states. Only Iceland is the outlier with a 22 week limit. None of these countries allow an abortion without justification after 22 weeks of pregnancy, which is when they determine the fetus has become viable.
Norway*, Denmark and Finland: up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, after that abortions are only permitted if the women’s health or life is at risk , if there are serious fetal anomalies and in cases of rape or incest. *by special application up to the 18th week. After 21 and 6 days weeks, when the fetus is considered viable, by law, an abortion can only be performed under special circumstances mentioned above.
Sweden: up to 18 weeks, after that permission is required from the National Board of Health and is usually granted in cases where the fetus or mother is unhealthy. Abortion is not allowed after 22 weeks except where the fetus’s health is such that it cannot survive outside the womb, if carried to term.
Iceland: 22 weeks Abortions are permitted until the end of the 22nd week or pregnancy, after that only if it threatens the woman’s health or life, or if there is a fetal deformity.
Term limits for abortion on demand and specific circumstances for late-term abortions also prevail many other European countries. As in the Nordic countries abortions on demand are generally legal only up to 12th week of pregnancy, with a few exceptions.
Switzerland: up to 12 weeks, after that a doctor must confirm that carrying the pregnancy to term would impact the woman’s physical or psychological health.
Germany: up to 12 weeks, where abortion is technically illegal, but it is still available during the first 12 weeks, under the condition of mandatory counselling. It is permitted later in the pregnancy if it may pose a danger to the physical or mental health of the woman.
Austria: up to 12 weeks, but can be performed later if there is a physical or mental health threat to the woman or if there is an incurable health issue with the fetus, or if the patient is under 14.
Italy: up to 12 weeks, for health, economic or social reasons, including the circumstances under which conception occurred. Abortions can be performed in the second trimester only when the life of the woman is at risk or the fetus carries genetic or other serious malformations.
France: up to 14 weeks, later stage abortions up until birth are allowed if two physicians certify that having the child will cause physical or mental injury to the woman.
Spain: up to 14 weeks and at later stages if there is serious risk to the health of the woman or fetus.
The United Kingdom: up to 24 weeks, but must be approved by two doctors, who agree having the baby would pose a greater risk to the physical or mental health of the woman, than termination. Abortions can be performed after 24 weeks if the woman’s life is in danger, if there is a severe fetal abnormality, or if the woman is at grave risk or a physical or mental injury.
*Canada: Canada is one of the few countries where nationally, abortion is technically legal through all nine months (40 weeks) of pregnancy. However, few provinces in Canada offer unconditional abortions after 23 weeks and 6 days. This reason for this legal anamoly is that abortion rights have become such a political hot button that neither of the two national major political parties, when in government, want to touch it with a ten foot pole. The Liberals prefer to maintain the status quo, and should a Conservative even breath the idea of actually having some decisive rules around terms limits for abortion on demand, like they have almost everywhere else in the Western world, the Liberals immediately accuse them of trampling on women’s reproductive rights. The legacy media join the chorus and the idea is forgotten, before it has even begun.
So there you have it, a broad view of the status of abortion laws in North America and Europe. This article, is not intended to pass judgement on the US Supreme Court decision, nor the abortion laws outlined herein. It is only intended to bring some perspective to an issue that is, too often, is encumbered with raw emotion and self-righteous anger from both sides of the spectrum.
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|I am a retired journalist who served with the Canadian Armed Forces and for the last 13 years of my working career was a Senior Emergency Planning Analyst with the RCMP. I am a wife, mother and dog, cat and intrepid explorer
An Intrepid warrior exploring issues in today's strange new world.
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