Evidence Library

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Nadia Sawicki, JD, MBe •
Loyola University Chicago School of Law

This legal map identifies the procedural protections established by laws and regulations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia that protect the conscience rights of health care providers in the context of reproductive health care services, with a particular emphasis on immunity from civil liability and limitations on provider rights in cases where patients are likely to be harmed. It captures the relevant features of laws in effect as of December 17, 2018.

 
Staff •
Center for Public Health Law Research

Although Roe v. Wade (1973) currently protects the right to an abortion at the federal level, some states have enacted additional legal protections for individuals seeking abortion. Some states have laws prohibiting any interference with a woman exercising her right to obtain an abortion prior to viability, or when necessary to protect the life and health of the woman. Additionally, there are state court opinions that interpret provisions of their state constitution to similarly protect the right to an abortion up to viability.

 
Staff •
Center for Public Health Law Research

One way states regulate abortion access is through a patchwork of restrictions on government funding of abortion services. These can include broad restrictions on any funds passing through state agencies, bans on the use of government facilities for abortion or participation by government employees in the providing abortion services, and restrictions on Medicaid funding of abortion, among others. Under current federal policy, states are required to use state Medicaid funds for abortion services in the limited circumstances of life endangerment, rape, or incest.

 
Staff •
Center for Public Health Law Research

State abortion waiting period laws require an individual seeking abortion to wait a specified time period after receiving mandatory counseling, usually between 24 to 72 hours, before they can obtain the procedure. The mandatory counseling that must occur prior to obtaining an abortion goes beyond the customary informed consent that is generally required for all medical procedures, and sometimes includes misleading information regarding abortion.

 

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