The Road To Abortion For American Women: Access By State

Lifestyle During Pregnancy
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Although Roe Vs. Wade made abortions legal in the United States, that’s not been a clear-cut end of the story. In fact, it may only be the beginning as different states and different providers of gynecological care struggled to make sense of laws, interpret their findings, legislate aspects of abortion, and fund abortion clinics. This is a personal, physical, community, spiritual, religious, and political issue, which so far has been largely left in the hands of the government, except in the case of some rogue providers of abortion services, who have frequently been a target of violence.

No matter what you personally may feel about abortion, statistics show you almost certainly have encountered someone who has undergone a legal abortion – be it yourself, family member, significant other, child, friend or coworker. What is unknown to many people is that different states have vastly different laws regarding how, when, where, and to what stage of pregnancy an abortion can be performed legally.

Part of the differences in laws are almost certainly attributable to differences in regional attitudes towards abortion – people tend to elect lawmakers that reflect their personal views. Politicians who wish to serve another term tend to vote how the majority of their constituents want them to vote. The situation, while highly personal, is also very political, and therefore, is not a very clear cut process for many women who seek abortions.


The reasons for abortion are as varied as the women who seek them – according to studies, being young and unmarried, living in poverty, fearing social ramifications of pregnancy, and those who are in minority groups are more likely to seek abortion.

Therefore, it’s been argued that many of the legislative issues regarding abortion – namely, what a woman has to do in order to obtain one – can be described as barriers to adequate healthcare for many women who seek them.

According to Mashable, although many low-income earners qualify for coverage for an abortion through Medicaid in one state, they may be denied in another state, unless her life is endangered by the pregnancy or if she’s the victim of rape or incest.

In states where there are very few abortion providers, for reasons ranging from desolate locale to religious convictions, she may have to travel hundreds of miles, often to another state, and pay for transportation and hotel costs. Or she may live in a state with dozens of providers who are easily accessible to her and she may be home by the evening. That’s why the social media tag #ShoutYourAbortion has gained popularity, as more women have been vocal about their abortion experiences, good or bad.

Many states require mandatory counselling, a waiting period, and some require a woman to see her unborn child on ultrasound before she gets an abortion. Many states have different “Cut-off” points for when they will terminate a pregnancy: some at 14 weeks, some at 16 weeks, some at 20 weeks, and not many beyond that point, because things get more political and ethics get tougher when a fetus is considered “viable”, or able to live outside of the womb.

Women have been prosecuted for the death of a fetus according to The Inquisitr, and fairly recently: you can read abo that here.

What are some states with the most red tape? Kansas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, each with more than twenty restrictions. States with zero restrictions are California and New York, and most states fall in the 1-9 restrictions category, often meaning there is mandated counselling prior to the abortion, but little else. This, however, is often highly disputed by abortion rights advocates, who feel it is little more than a tactic of guilt.

[Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images]

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