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The Partial Death of Abortion Rights

Item

Title

The Partial Death of Abortion Rights

Creator

Date

2007-05-24

Volume

356

Bibliographic Citation

356 N. Engl. J. Med. 21 (May 24, 2007)

Abstract

Ever since the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, it has been understood that states may regulate pre-viability abortion and outlaw post-viability abortion completely, provided that the rules protect both the life and the health of the pregnant woman. And in the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court reaffirmed this principle, requiring a health exception in bans of post-viability abortion and stating that regulations regarding pre-viability abortion may not impose an 'undue burden' on women. This balance reflects the view that a woman's interest in preserving her own health should be protected more strongly than any state interest in preserving intrauterine life. The latest decision of the Supreme Court alters this balance and holds that requiring women to submit to an unnecessarily dangerous version of an abortion procedure (in cases in which D&X is deemed by a physician to be the safest option) is neither an undue burden on them nor a dereliction of the state's duty to guard women's health and personal autonomy. The decision thus opens the door to revisiting any number of state and federal efforts to restrict access to abortion services.

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Keywords

Abortion
Partial-Birth
Roe v Wade