There Are No Good Abortion Laws

Sunday, June 6, 2021 blog Share

Rights, risks, and resources.


Laws exist to say what things people can and can’t do, and who is and isn’t allowed to do them. And since any law can be amended, there’s really no such thing as a good abortion law.

Roe v. Wade made abortion legal throughout the US by saying that no state could make it illegal before the fetus can survive outside the uterus. But it didn’t say that anyone could get an abortion at any time. It explicitly said that people could only get abortions in the first two trimesters of pregnancy, and that they could only be performed by a doctor. In the decades since then, states have put up more and more barriers to abortion access, even while technically still complying with Roe.

Other legal rulings have said that states can’t impose an “unreasonable burden” on people seeking abortions, but the courts have also decided that some of the barriers states are imposing aren’t unreasonably burdensome. And so the right to abortion keeps being whittled away. It’s still technically legal in every state, but it’s so hard to access in some places that the law may as well not exist.

Ideally, the US wouldn’t have any laws that are specific to abortion. It would regulate abortion exactly like any other medical procedure. Alternatively, Congress would pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, a law stating affirmatively that health care professionals nationwide are allowed to provide abortion care without any medically unnecessary state restrictions that single out abortion.

Without those laws, it’s increasingly common for people who are pregnant and don’t want to be to end their pregnancies outside of the medical system – which is also outside of the legal system, too. This isn’t without risk. In some states, people who have ended their own pregnancies have been charged with crimes, and while some have had those charges dismissed, others have been convicted and fined or even imprisoned. So in addition to understanding how to use abortion pills safely, someone who wants to have a self-managed abortion needs to be informed about their rights if the police question them or if they have to seek medical care

Fortunately, there are lots of resources available, online and elsewhere, to provide people with accurate, up-to-date information. is a great place to begin your research.