State and Federal Government
8:00 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

Abortion: From the High Plains to the Supreme Court

United States Supreme Court
Credit becketfund.org

Abortions were unregulated during the 1800s, and by the end of the 19th century, abortion was criminalized.  

January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling on Roe v. Wade ruling the state law banning abortion unconstitutional, except to save the life of the mother.  The Court ruled that the states were forbidden from outlawing or regulating any aspect of abortion performed during the first trimester of pregnancy, could only enact abortion regulations reasonably related to maternal health in the second and third trimesters, and could enact abortion laws protecting the life of the fetus only in the third trimester. Even then, an exception had to be made to protect the life of the mother. Controversial from the moment it was released, Roe v. Wade politically divided the nation more than any other recent case and continues to inspire heated debates, politics, and even violence today ("the culture wars") according to PBS’s The Supreme Court.  

Abortion continues to be addressed by the Supreme Court.  Recently, turning away an emergency application asking it to block a Texas law requiring doctors performing abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital said a recent New York Times article. 

In Oklahoma, the state Supreme Court ruled this fall that a 2011 state law violated the Constitution by effectively banning all medicinal, nonsurgical abortions.  The case has will not be accepted for review by the United States Supreme Court according to The New York Times.

Across the High Plains, states have different restrictions.  Here are the limitations according to the Guttmacher Institute, as of October 1, 2013 at a glance:

Colorado

  • Abortion is not covered in insurance policies for public employees.
  • The parent of a minor must be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Kansas

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange that will be established under the federal health care reform law can only cover abortion when the woman’s life is endangered.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment.
  • The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parents of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must offer her the option to view the image.

Nebraska

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange that will be established under the federal health care reform law can only cover abortion when the woman’s life is endangered.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Oklahoma

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • Abortion is covered in private insurance policies only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • Health plans that will be offered in the state’s health exchange that will be established under the federal health care reform law can only cover abortion in cases when the woman's life is endangered, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • Abortion is covered in insurance policies for public employees only in cases of life endangerment, unless an optional rider is purchased at an additional cost.
  • The use of telemedicine for the performance of medication abortion is prohibited.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.

Texas

  • A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
  • The parent of a minor must consent and be notified before an abortion is provided.
  • Public funding is available for abortion only in cases of life endangerment, rape or incest.
  • A woman must undergo an ultrasound before obtaining an abortion; the provider must show and describe the image to the woman. If the woman lives within 100 miles of an abortion provider she must obtain the ultrasound at least 24 hours before the abortion.

The Texas Tribune reported the legal fight about abortion in Texas could drag on for some time, playing against the 2014 governor’s race.