Abortion Policy Description Statement of the Policy Essay

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Policy Description

Statement of the Policy

The policy of the United States on abortion was one set forty years ago in a landmark decision, in the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.

Brief History of the Policy

In the case of Roe v. Wade, a single woman by the name of Roe brought class action that challenged the constitutionality of the criminal abortion laws in the state of Texas. In this case a licensed physician by the name of Hallford, who had state prosecutions against him pending was allowed to intervene. A childless couple, known as the Does, attacked the laws and based the alleged injury on the future possibilities of contraceptive failure, stating that were not prepared for becoming parents and the health of the wife. The court ordered the abortion statutes void "as vague and overbroadly infringing the plaintiff's 9th and 14th Amendment rights" and ruling that the Doe's complaint was not justiciable. The appellants appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court in the rulings and the appellee cross-appealed from the District Court which granted declaratory relief to Roe and Hallford. The U.S. Supreme Court held as follows:

"State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a "compelling" point at various stages of the woman's approach to term. Pp. 147-164. (a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164. (b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164. (c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165." (U.S. Supreme Court, 1973)

C. Description of the Policy and Problem Addressed

II. Policy Environment

A. Description of the Social and Physical Factors Affecting the Origin, Development and Implementation of the Policy

The environment of abortion policy is such that encompasses religious and morality issues as well as socioeconomic issues relating to abortion. As in the case of Roe v. Wade, individuals seek abortion due to failure of contraceptive devices and individuals being unprepared for parenthood. Many of the abortions performed are those where young women and teens are pregnant and do not desire to have a child. In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court in the case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, granted the states "an ambiguous authority to regulate access to legal abortions." (Norander and Wilcox, 1999) It is reported that this ruling appeared to "invite states to experiment with restrictions on abortion, and several states and territories quickly accepted that invitation." (Norander and Wilcox, 1999) The early research on public policy on abortion in the United States was such that had a focus "almost exclusively on economic issues, such as state welfare expenditures or highway construction, and sought to test the relative importance of economic and political factors in explaining variations in public policy." (Norander and Wilcox, 1999)

It is reported that more recently, the emphasis has changed "to diversity in morality policy…morality policy has several distinctive characteristics, the issues are not complex technically, they are highly salient to the public, and the policy debates evoke a wide variety of citizen participation." (Norander and Wilcox, 1999) In addition, it is more difficult to achieve compromises in morality than economic policy." (Norander and Wilcox, 1999) The link between public values and policy outputs are reported to be mediated by two types of variables: (1) Interest group activity that influences legislators'…[continue]

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