Abortion and Congress Authority Over Freedom
Advocates for Abortion and Congress Are Often on Opposite Sides. The Government Has no Right to Take Your Right to Choose What is Best for You.
Abortion and Congress met head on with the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court case of 1973 which overturned all laws banning or restricting abortion rights before the seventh month of pregnancy. This court case has been the staple of the abortion issue since.
The idea was current abortion laws violated the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment. At the time of the ruling 46 states had laws that restricted or prohibited abortion rights and many of these states have been attempting to restrict a woman’s right to choose ever since.
Although the Supreme Court ruling states that any restriction on a woman’s right to choose is unconstitutional, those who oppose abortion and Congress have often attempted to pass legislation to restrict this right.
These people finally got their way as the 2005 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban passed through Congress and was happily signed by President George Bush. Despite the original court’s ruling, the conservative-controlled Supreme Court ruled that the restriction on partial-birth abortion was in fact constitutional, opening the door to possible further legislation on the federal and state level to restrict women’s rights.
Before Roe V. Wade
Prior to the Roe v. Wade ruling, 46 states had prohibitions on abortion. Only New York, Washington state, Hawaii, and Alaska allowed abortions to all women. Most states had illegalized abortion entirely, regardless of the situation.
Other states allowed abortion in cases involving rape, incest, and danger to a woman’s health. Abortion was illegal in all states prior to 1967 when Colorado became the first state to allow abortions in cases of rape or danger to health.
Post Roe V. Wade
The first Supreme Court ruling to challenge that full ban on restricting a woman’s right to choose was Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992 which lowered the seven month threshold for illegal abortions.
In 2007, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban by a 5-4 margin in the first ever ruling that decreased the right to choose since the Roe v. Wade decision.
Under Bill Clinton, the Republican controlled Congress passed two partial-birth abortion bans but both were vetoed by the president who defended his decision by pointing out that neither bill had provisions relating to the health of the woman.
The partial-birth abortion sets strict penalties for doctors who could face up to two years in jail if they are discovered to have performed a partial-birth abortion. There are many sides to the issue of abortion and Congress debated these bills in great detail but ultimately passed the bill with fairly wide margins.
The bill has come under fire because any restrictions on abortion simply lead to illegal ‘back alley’ abortions which are unsafe. This is especially true in cases of late-term abortion which are much more elaborate and often end in tragedy. Bills like the partial-birth abortion ban lead to procedures such as these which then creates a dangerous, underground medical culture.
Provisions of Abortion and Congress Funding
Other issues include the funding of abortion and Congress has passed the buck off to the states. Congress has required that Medicaid cover abortion costs in the event of rape or the endangerment of a woman’s life, but has banned the use of Medicaid for all other abortion procedures.
South Dakota has banned Medicaid funding of abortion procedures in cases of rape thus not meeting the requirements set by Congress. Indiana, Utah, and Wisconsin have expanded the Medicaid funding to be allowed for use in cases of danger to a woman’s health while Iowa, Mississippi, and Virginia have also expanded Medicaid funding to be allowed for use in cases of ‘fetal abnormality.’
Seventeen states like California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey provide state funding to cover most abortions upon request of women covered by Medicaid. Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, North Dakota, and Oklahoma do not allow private insurance carriers to cover abortion costs except in cases of life endangerment.
Proponents of abortion raised the issue of government funding for federal employees seeking an abortion and Congress once again banned any federal funding for everyone covered by federal employee insurance to be used for abortions.
Twelve states also restrict funding for public employee insurance to be used for abortions.
Ten states have circumstantial exemptions while Connecticut and Kentucky public employee plans do not cover abortion costs in any situation.