Federal and State Legislation on Abortion

Author: A.L.L.


American Life League

The care of human life is the first and only legitimate object of good government.

                                                                                                   Thomas Jefferson.[1]

Anti-Life Philosophy.

The penalty against child-murdering mothers is an unexampled atrocity. Who then has a greater right to dispose of the fruit than she who carries it in her womb? ... To interfere with the usage a woman chooses to make of it is stupidity carried beyond any conceivable extreme.

                                                                                           The Marquis de Sade.[2]

The right to bear or not to bear children is such a fundamental human right that it should not be left to the States or to the populace to decide. The right to reproductive freedom is so essential, like the right to free speech, that it must be protected by the Federal government. If the States were allowed to freely tamper with abortion rights, we would soon end up with an unworkable and unacceptable "patchwork quilt" of laws that would punish all women, especially poor women and women of color who could not afford to travel.


It is very important for all pro-lifers to recognize the fact that committed pro-abortionists ardently believe that state legislatures have no place at all in regulating or even discussing abortion.

Faye Wattleton, the former president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, demonstrated the typical pro-abortion totalitarian mindset when she wrote in The Humanist Magazine that "We need to remove the abortion issue forever from the legislative arena. We need a universal recognition that our civil liberties are off-limits to partisan debate!"[3]

Pro-abortionists, who support abortions for sex selection, birth control, and prenatal killing in the third-trimester for convenience' sake, believe that any tampering with the supreme abortion right even in such relatively trivial matters as the proper burial of aborted babies represents an unconscionable interference with their own "right to be."

Neofeminists believe that moral or ethical culpability never lies with the woman who selfishly aborts for convenience, the incompetent "women's help groups," or the blood-spattered, soulless 'doctors' who commit the abortions and rake in thousands of dollars for a morning's easy work. The blame, of course, always lies with someone else in this case, the "religious right."

As Rebecca Chalker and Carol Downer wrote in their recent book A Woman's Book of Choices that "If women are injured or die trying to abort unwanted pregnancies because safe, legal facilities are outlawed, the blame rests not with them or with those trying to help them. It rests squarely on the shoulders of the religious right, on state legislatures that have passed regressive abortion restrictions, and on the U.S. Supreme Court, which has chosen to limit access to safe abortion facilities."[4]

This statement is as supremely stupid as claiming that burglars who are shot and injured and killed by business owners and homeowners are not at fault, because the fault lies with those who pass the laws and those groups that are opposed to burglary.

This attitude is a good example of the Neoliberal desire to be free of all constraints and responsibilities. Pro-aborts believe that there must be no obstacle to self-fulfillment, self-actualization, and self-indulgence. Nowhere is the Neoliberal mind more absolutist than on the subject of abortion.

A lengthy quote by Lana Clarke Phelan nearly 25 years ago lays bare the psychology behind the pro-abortion "no compromise" position, and helps to illuminate the kind of thinking that leads to absolutist and illogical acts of extremism on the part of committed pro-abortionists. This mode of thinking still dominates the pro-abort mind today.

 ... in 1968 America, we are faced with incredible laws reflecting this occult impregnation of women, not by their mates, but by the god-sent seed of the state-approved god, whose seed woman may not reject under any circumstances.

It is this unvoiced superstition and lingering fear of displeasing the old gods, or their present-day advocates, that keeps an uninformed public subservient to archaic abortion laws which compel every female made pregnant to bring forth her infant sacrifice to the gods. How, then, can we possibly poke fun at religious retardation in India, where cattle are worshipped and children starve, when a so-called educated and enlightened nation like our own suffers under and perpetuates an equally ridiculous theology in the form of law? The United States is the last real stronghold for this ignorance and cupidity [lust for wealth] held mainly in force by the moneyed hierarchy of a crumbling and retarded Roman Catholic Church.

 ... it is increasingly embarrassing for medical men to justify compulsory carrying of an embryo to term, based on the fantastic notion that this one unwanted sperm among millions has somehow been blessed by the Moon God.

Abortion laws are sexual discrimination laws: a lie, a farce, and slavery in its cruelest sense. Her rights to human conscience are abridged. She becomes a beast, and is stripped of all human rights until the state has reaped its pitiful crop from her bleeding womb and mutilated psyche. Her body imprisoned by force, she is certainly deprived of her liberty, and with her physical labors chained to the care of unwanted infants for at least 20 years of her life, there is no opportunity for the pursuit of happiness outlined in our American dream. An animal, she is politically dead ...

When males set out to govern the sexual morality of females, we have rats guarding the cheese ... The abortion laws are laws against the nature of woman in the most sacred and intimate area of her instinct, and compulsory pregnancy and motherhood is obscene prostitution of her soul and body which does little to enhance the image of rational males.

The compulsory breeding of women by church and state is nothing more than ecclesiastical and legislative pimpery, in which the bodies of all women are utilized for state profit and pleasure. It is imperative that faced with the mounting, inundating tide of human fecundity these same men be openly charged with their crimes against nature, and all respect and honor be removed from them until they remove once and for all the obscene laws with which they intrude so crudely and salaciously into our private lives.[5]

The remainder of this chapter describes the more significant legislation passed by the United States Congress and the various state houses.


In the laws concerning abortion, we find an outspoken expression of the best sentiments of society. The law is a constant monitor: The clergy and all other educators may fail in their duty to properly instruct the people, but we still have left instruction in the law.

                                                                                   Attorney Junius Hoag (1890).[6]


Although all pro-life and pro-abort eyes lately seem to be riveted upon the United States Supreme Court, it is the United States Congress that implements the day-to-day 'nuts and bolts' aspects of this country's operation.

The three most important Congressional actions that have taken place over the last twenty years are the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), the Mexico City Policy, and the Public Service Health Act.

The following paragraphs describe these actions and some of the other more significant Federal legislation regarding abortion that has been formulated since the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.

The Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA).

[The Freedom of Choice Act] provides for no exceptions no exceptions whatsoever ... A state may not restrict the right of a woman to terminate a pregnancy and that is for any reason.

                                                                 FOCA cosponsor Don Edwards (D-Ca).[7]

The Impacts of FOCA. 

Pro-abortionists tolerate absolutely no restrictions on their supreme abortion 'right.' Even those limitations that have broad and deep public approval (i.e., parental involvement and informed consent) are anathema to them. In general, whatever leads to more abortions is a positive "good" to them, and whatever leads to less abortions is "bad."

The primary impetus for a Federal Freedom of Choice Act came after the United States Supreme Court's Webster decision of July 1989.

Immediately after this decision, pro-abortion organizations went ballistic. They said that women would begin dying by the thousands every year again. And they said that Roe v. Wade was a "mere skeleton." In other words, they took what was, in practical effect, a minor defeat in the courts and parlayed it into a rallying cry that spread from coast to coast.

Meanwhile, they introduced a bill in Congress that, according to the National Abortion Rights Action League, would "codify Roe v. Wade." This is an obvious falsehood, of course: If the pro-aborts really wanted just to "codify" Roe, they would have used the same language set forth in the Court's decision. But they did not. They went much further.

The pro-abortion strategists were obviously taking advantage of the high degree of general public ignorance about Roe and the status of abortion in this country in general. A 1990 Wirthlin poll found that one-third of all respondents believed that there were less than 100,000 abortions committed in this country annually. The average figure quoted regarding the number of abortions performed for rape and incest was 21% of the total, and to save the life of the mother, 15% of the total. Even more significantly, a Parade Magazine national poll showed that 72% of all respondents believed that abortion should be illegal beyond the third month, while most believed that abortion is completely illegal beyond the third month.[8]

In light of this knowledge, the pro-abortionists framed their actions in terms of what the public believed the abortion situation was in this country: "A reasonable compromise between the rights of the woman and the fetus."

The practical effects of FOCA would go far beyond those wreaked by Roe v. Wade, of course. One of the most ardent supporters of the bill, the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that "This [FOCA] bill prohibits such restrictions as parental notification and consent, as well as the requirement that all abortions be performed in a hospital, spousal consent, waiting periods ..."[9]

The Implications of FOCA. 

The FOCA threat, as intimidating as it sounds, may not be as bad as pro-lifers generally believe.

To begin with, many members of Congress who are elected from the 44 states that have abortion restrictions in place recognize the extreme nature of FOCA and do not want to alienate their constituencies unnecessarily. As late as March of 1993, there were not enough solid votes in Congress to even pass FOCA with a simple majority.

Secondly, even in the unlikely event that FOCA does pass both houses of Congress and is signed into law by President Bill Clinton, it will almost certainly be declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, which has held again and again in decisions such as Webster and Casey that states do indeed have the right to impose certain restrictions on abortion.

The only way that FOCA will ever become the law of the land is if a pro-abortion President packs the Supreme Court with justices that see no validity in any kind of abortion limitation. In other words, the top levels of all three branches of government will have to be rabidly pro-abortion for FOCA to succeed in its intended mission. This is an event that is not likely to happen for more than a decade, if it ever does.

The Mexico City Policy.

Overview. Since 1973, Congress has prohibited the use of so-called "population assistance" funds for performing or promoting abortion in foreign countries. These funds have recently averaged about $230 million annually, and, until 1984, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) interpreted this guideline very loosely (as pro-abortion agencies invariably do), directing a large portion of these funds to international organizations, such as the International Planned Parenthood Federation, that relentlessly push abortion in less-developed countries. Of course, earmarking funds for these entities in any manner was exactly the same as giving them money to perform and promote abortions.

In 1984, on President Reagan's order, the United States delegation to a population control conference in Mexico City announced that "population assistance" funds would no longer be allocated to organizations that performed or promoted abortions as a method of family planning in other countries.

PP Counterattack. 

Pro-abortion groups, led by (who else?) Planned Parenthood, counterattacked in the legislative arena immediately. However, the Congress upheld the Mexico City Policy by 45 votes. At this point, overseas population groups had a choice of either abandoning their pro-abortion activities or losing the funds. All chose to keep the funds, except the fanatical International Planned Parenthood Federation, which gave up $17 million in annual funds about five percent of its budget. The Family Planning International Assistance Program (FPIA), operated by PPFA in New York City, also rejected the Mexico City Policy and sued the Federal government in January of 1987 to overturn it.[10]

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America also lost about half of an $89 million United States Agency for International Development (USAID) contract, which, of course, heavily focused on PP's (per)version of "family planning."

Planned Parenthood spent over $2 million during the period 1987 to 1989 on lobbying, litigation, and advertising directed at overturning the Mexico City Policy, which prohibited funding for private organizations which "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning." In 1987 alone, this included ten quarter-page advertisements in the New York Times and the Washington Post, 13 full-page advertisements in magazines, and 900 subway and bus ads in Washington, DC.[11]

The hysterical PP allegations and personal attacks included a photograph of a starving Black woman and her piteously undernourished child with a headline that cried;


Kemp and Smith Prevail. 

Eventually, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to overturn the Mexico City Policy, but the bill never reached the floor. The House Appropriations Committee, led by Jack Kemp and Chris Smith, defeated the PPFA amendment by a vote of 26 to 21 on August 6, 1987. On December 3, the Senate Appropriations Committee also rejected the amendment by a vote of 14 to 11.

The Public Service Health Act.


The Public Service Health Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-572) is also known as the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act. Originally, Section 1008 of Title X of this Act read: "None of the funds appropriated under this Title shall be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning."

The HHS Inversion. 

This statement was a considerable obstacle in the path of heavily-funded pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, so the pro-abortionists packed a Health and Human Services (HHS) advisory committee during the Carter administration. This committee inverted the original meaning of the law to actually require applicants for Title X funds to refer for abortions.

Emboldened by this successful bit of subversion, HHS drew up guidelines that allowed abortion and contraception providers to assess the financial need of teenaged girls based entirely on their own incomes; i.e., as if they were living by themselves, with no support from their parents. Naturally, almost all teenaged girls qualified under this standard, and, by 1985, more than 40 percent of all Title X funds were going towards family planning for teenagers not the poor, as was originally intended. While poor ghetto families went without aid, tens of thousands of rich promiscuous preppies got free pills and abortion advice.

The Kemp-Hatch Amendment. 

To remedy this intolerable situation, the Kemp-Hatch Amendment to Title X was passed into law by Congress. This Amendment read "No Federal funds may be used to provide to any pregnant woman abortion procedures, counseling for abortion procedures, or referral for abortion procedures, unless the life of the mother would be endangered by carrying the fetus to term."

This Amendment simply returned Title X to its original intent. It prohibited funding to groups that actively facilitated abortion by referring or arranging for abortions. However, it did not restrict other Federal funding programs such as Medicaid and Medicare, as Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion groups immediately alleged. The pro-abortionists also wrongly stated that the Amendment would prohibit medical schools from teaching the abortion procedure, and would prohibit family planning groups from identifying abortion as "an option available under the law."

The pro-aborts also whined that the Kemp-Hatch Amendment would "cripple family planning in the United States," although it would cut off funds to only 74 of the total of 5,000 family planning clinics in the United States.

The Supreme Court Rules. 

The question reached a boil when the United States Supreme Court, in its May 23, 1991 Rust v. Sullivan decision, held that the Federal government, while allowing abortion, may still prefer childbirth over abortion by refusing to subsidize counseling for the latter. This action stripped the Planned Parenthood Federation of America of more than $34 million. The United States Congress voted in a subsequent action to nullify the Supreme Court decision, but President George Bush's veto stood up.

Public Law 95-215 (the 1977 Amendments to the Public Health Service Act) is similar to Public Law 93-45 (the Health Programs Extension Act of 1973) in that it protects those individuals and institutions that refuse to perform abortions. This Act required the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (now the Department of Health and Human Services) to prepare a study that would examine the widespread practice of denying applicants admission to medical, nursing, or osteopathic schools because they opposed abortion on moral or religious grounds and would not advocate abortion or participate in abortion procedures.

Subsequently, Public Law 96-76 (the 1979 Amendments to the Public Health Service Act) provided that any institutions receiving federal funds could not bar any individual because they would not support, refer for, or participate in abortions because of their religious or moral beliefs.

Other Federal Legislation.


Abortion is the most important, explosive, and far-reaching social issue of our time. Therefore, it is inevitable that it will insinuate itself into Congressional activities on almost a weekly basis, particularly when a bill regarding almost any aspect of health care is being considered.

This section describes some of the more important Congressional legislation that impinges upon the abortion debate, as follows;

• Abortion Appropriations Amendments
• Budget Reconciliation Act (PL 97-35)
• DOD Appropriations (PL 97-114)
• District of Columbia Appropriations Bills
• Foreign Assistance Appropriation Bills
• Health Programs Extension Act (PL 93-45)
• Legal Services Corporation Act (PL 93-355)
• Pregnancy Disability Amendment (PL 95-555)

Abortion Appropriations Amendments.

Many abortion battles in Congress occur during the debating of appropriations bills, usually those for the Department of Health and Human Services (formerly the Department of Health, Education and Welfare). At times, the paychecks for millions of federal workers have been held up by these debates before compromises or agreements could be made over abortion funding.

Appropriations bills must be passed by Congress at least once every two years. If a new appropriations bill does not pass, the old one is no longer in effect, so the agency or agencies for whom monies are being appropriated simply cannot operate.

Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981.

Public Law 97-35 (Title IX of the Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981 (Health Services and Facilities)) permits the allocation of federal funds only to health programs that do not advocate or provide abortions, except in the case of a pregnant minor who had the permission of both her parents or guardians.

Department of Defense Appropriations.

These Department of Defense appropriations (Public Law 97-114) include funds for the operation of military hospitals. These bills bar the funding of abortions at military hospitals, except in cases to save the mother's life.

Attempts by pro-abortion forces in 1991 to overturn this policy showed that even supposedly disciplined professional military men sometimes unthinkingly spew pro-abortion propaganda.

Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey T. Jensen, head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at the Subic Bay Navy Hospital in The Philippines, said in a letter to pro-abort Congressman Les AuCoin [D.-umb] that the "... prohibition against abortion at overseas hospitals has endangered women's lives and interfered with the readiness of our military."[12]

Thinking persons were led to speculate as to how the absence of abortion could possibly hobble the military's effectiveness.

The question became moot on January 22, 1993, when newly-elected President Bill Clinton removed all restrictions on abortions at military hospitals.

District of Columbia Appropriations Bills.

Municipal funding for the District of Columbia must be appropriated by Congress. Public Laws 96-530 and 97-378 (Fiscal Years 1981 and 1983) forbid the use of federal funds for abortions, except those to save the life of the mother, or in the case of pregnancies caused by rape and incest that are reported immediately to the appropriate authorities.

Foreign Assistance Appropriation Bills.

These appropriations bills (Public Laws 95-148 and 97-121, Fiscal Years 1979 and 1982) barred the use of any federal funds for abortions or for pro-abortion lobbying.

Health Programs Extension Act of 1973.

This Act (Public Law 93-45) forbids public officials from ordering those entities receiving federal money to perform abortions or make their facilities available for abortions if performing the procedures violates that person's or institution's religious or moral beliefs. Also, those persons who refuse to perform abortions may not be discriminated against because of such refusal.

Legal Services Corporation Act.

Public Law 93-355 (1974) bars attorneys who work in federally-funded legal aid programs for the poor from providing any legal advice pertaining to abortion, except where the abortion might be performed for "compelling" health reasons. This law also prohibits such legal aid lawyers from taking to court any person or institution which refuses to perform an abortion, in an attempt to compel such person or institution to perform or assist in the performance of an abortion.

The Legal Services Corporation (LSC) has always possessed a reputation for aggressive Left-wing lobbying, and has been a constant source of irritation to conservatives. This Act finally insured that such lobbying would be done on the pro-abort's own nickel, and not the taxpayers.'

Pregnancy Disability Amendment.

Public Law 95-555 (The Pregnancy Disability Amendment to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) required that pregnancy be treated as a disability, and therefore guaranteed health insurance coverage for women workers covered by health insurance. It also permitted employers not to pay for insurance that provided funds for abortions, except in cases required to save the mother's life. However, the law did not prohibit employers from paying for insurance that did provide payments for abortions.



On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, by brute force, wrested from the States the ability to mind their own affairs in the critical area of abortion. This exercise of "raw judicial power" essentially removed the abortion debate from the realm of public discourse and enshrined it as a "super right" above all others, as subsequent Supreme Court decisions have shown.

However, the Court's July 1989 Webster decision gave pro-life states the hope that, one day, they will be able to conduct their own affairs without the Federal government looking over their shoulders.

The result has been a flurry of mostly unsuccessful State attempts to limit abortion. Clearly, Webster did not go far enough; but many more challenges to Roe are currently in the legal "pipeline."

Figure 58-1 shows the status of State restrictions on abortion as of July 1990. It is important to remember that this table will be changing constantly and rapidly, especially since the Supreme Court's July 1989 Webster decision and its ruling in Pennsylvania's Planned Parenthood v. Casey litigation. Naturally, if the Freedom of Choice Act is signed into law by Bill Clinton, this figure will become instantly obsolete.


State Funding
   (1) State pays for all abortions
   (2) State pays for abortions to save the mother's life only
   (3) State pays for abortions to save the mother's life and for rape and incest
Restrictions on Minors
   (4) Parental notification required
   (5) Parental consent required
Restrictions on Procedure
   (6) Informed consent required
   (7) Abortions may be performed in a hospital only
   (8) Mother must reside in state for specified period
Abortions on Viable Babies
   (9) Abortions on viable babies prohibited entirely
   (10) Abortions on viable babies allowed to save the mother's life only
   (11) Abortions on viable babies allowed only for the mother's life and health
   (12) 2 MDs must be present for late abortions
   (13) Aid required for babies aborted alive
   (14) Late-term abortions must be performed in a hospital only
   (15) Abortuary licensing of some type required
   (16) Abortions will be banned after Roe v. Wade is limited or overturned

   X Existing law ignored or unenforced by court system
   C Court bypass provision
   E Currently enjoined by courts
   U Declared unconstitutional by courts

                                                TYPE OF RESTRICTION

ALABAMA                    2X  5X  6X  15X
ALASKA                       1X   5U  6X  15X
ARIZONA                      2X  5C  10X  16X
ARKANSAS                  2X  4X  11X  12X
CALIFORNIA               1X  5E  9X  11X
COLORADO                 2X  5U
CONNECTICUT           1X  11X
DELAWARE                  2X  5U  6X  13X
FLORIDA                      2X  5X  11X  15X
GEORGIA                      2X  4X  15X
HAWAII                        1X  7X  8X
IDAHO                          2X  4X  6X
ILLINOIS                      2X  4E  11X  16X
INDIANA                      2X  5X  6X  14X
IOWA                             1X  11X
KANSAS                       2X
KENTUCKY                  2X  14X
LOUISIANA                  2X  5X  8X  14X  16X
MAINE                           2X  5U  7E  10X
MARYLAND                 1X  4U  5U  8X  9X
MASSACHUSETTS      1X  5X  6U  8X  11U
MICHIGAN                   2X  5X  1X
MINNESOTA                1X  3X  4X  8X  11X
MISSISSIPPI                 2X  5U  6U
MISSOURI                    2X  5X  6U  11X  15U
MONTANA                   2X  4U  6X  9X  11X
NEBRASKA                  2X  4X  6X  11X
NEVADA                       2X  4U  8U
NEW JERSEY                1X
NEW MEXICO              2X  5U
NEW YORK                  1X  10U  14X
N. CAROLINA              2X  10U
NORTH DAKOTA        1X  5X  6U  9U  14X
OHIO                             2X  4X  6U
OKLAHOMA                11X
OREGON                       1X
PENNSYLVANIA         2X  6X  9U  16X
RHODE ISLAND           2X  5X  6U  9U  10X
S. CAROLINA               2X  5X  9U  14X
SOUTH DAKOTA         2X  4E  5U  9U  14X
TENNESSEE                  2X  4U  6U  11X  14X
TEXAS                           2X  11X  15X
UTAH                             2X  4X
VERMONT                    1X
VIRGINIA                      3X  6X  9U  14X
WASHINGTON             1X  5U  8U
WEST VIRGINIA           1X  4X
WISCONSIN                 3X  6U  11X
WYOMING                    4X  5X  9U

References: (1) "Who Decides: A State By State Review of Abortion Rights in America." National Abortion Rights Action League. (2) "Across the USA: Abortion Laws in Every State." USA Today, April 22, 1992, page 13A. (3) Eloise Salholz. et.al. "Abortion Angst." Newsweek Magazine, July 13, 1992, pages 16 to 19.

Parental Consent and Notification Laws.


The most notable State battles to date have involved parental consent and notification laws.

Pro-lifers argue that a young girl cannot get her ears pierced, or get any other type of medical procedure performed, without her parent's permission. Yet she can abort a life-changing event in most cases and parents have no right to even attempt to influence their daughter's decision!

Even when parental notification or consent laws are passed by a state, they usually include a 'judicial bypass' provision, where a girl may petition a judge to allow her an abortion on the basis of her proven maturity.

These judges are literally rubberstampers, because in those incredibly rare cases when an abortion is denied, the event makes front page headlines and generates complaints and lawsuits from angered pro-abortion groups as in the case of Judge Randall Hekman.[13]

Fighting Against Families.

Generally, when fighting abortion restrictions, pro-aborts point to bogus or heavily-doctored public opinion polls 'showing' that the majority of the American public is 'pro-choice.' These polls are either scams or are deliberately misinterpreted by the pro-aborts, as described in Chapter 76, "Public Opinion Polls on Abortion."

Naturally, pro-aborts do not mention public opinion polls at all when fighting parental consent or notification laws, because they know for a fact that the vast majority of Americans support such laws.

So, the pro-abortionists do what comes so naturally to them; they rely on the courts to do their fighting for them. For example, Ohio's state house and senate overwhelmingly passed a parental consent law and was approved by 76 percent of the state's residents. But the American Civil Liberties Union brought suit on behalf of two (naturally) anonymous teenaged girls, and Federal judge Ann Aldrich threw out the new law.[14]

Effectiveness of the Laws.

The purpose of parental notification and consent laws is twofold: (1) to return the decision to the families, thereby restoring usurped parental authority, and (2) to try to cut down on the staggering rates of teenage pregnancy in the United States.

Such laws are extremely effective at accomplishing both objectives. As one example, when a 1981 Minnesota law requiring parental notification for abortions was enacted, the ascending birth rate for teenagers attending schools with school-based clinics reversed itself, and the entire state saw a dramatic decrease in abortions, births, and pregnancies among teenagers.

Minnesota's parental notification law was in effect from August 1981 to March 1986. In absolute numbers, the rate of abortions among girls aged 15 to 17 was 19.0 per 1,000 before the law was enacted, and dropped 28 percent to 13.6 per 1,000 the year after the law was enacted. According to the House Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, during the time period 1980 to 1983, abortions by Minnesota teens dropped 40 percent, births declined 23.4 percent, and pregnancies dropped 32 percent.[15]

During the same period, the Minnesota teen population decreased by only 13.5 percent.[16]

Finally, in March of 1986, a judge struck down Minnesota's parental involvement law at the urging of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, which was apparently angry that its business was being crippled by loss of abortion and contraceptive business. PP's efforts were rewarded, because the rate of teen pregnancy in the state immediately began to rise again, from 14.42 per 1,000 in 1985 to 15.45 per 1,000 in 1986, the year the law was struck down.[17]

Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations had argued in court that the Minnesota law was ineffective at reducing the teen abortion rate because girls just left the state to get their abortions. However, teenaged girls in Minnesota did not have easy access to states without parental involvement laws, in contrast to the situation in Massachusetts. Therefore, the claim that they just left the state for abortions holds no water.

Massachusetts is another state that showed a dramatic improvement in the teen pregnancy situation after passing a parental involvement law. The table below shows statistics on the state's teen pregnancies, births, and abortions both before and after the 1981 law was enforced.


[A medium text size on your computer's 'view' setting is recommended, otherwise, the tables may be discombobulated.]

                                           1980                      1982
                                  (Before the Law)    (After the Law)      Change

Abortions to
     girls under 18                 5,113                     3,943                 -1,170
Births to
     girls under 18                 2,471                      2,478                      +7
Pregnancies to
     girls under 18                 7,584                      6,421                -1,163

References. (1) Virginia G. Cartoof and Lorraine V. Klerman. "Parental Consent for Abortion: Impact of the Massachusetts Law." American Journal of Public Health, Volume 76, Number 4, April 1986, pages 397 to 400. (2) Jacqueline R. Kasun. "Effects of the Parental Consent Law in Massachusetts." ALL About Issues, June-July 1988, page 27.

Despite the fact that teen pregnancies and abortions in the state dropped precipitously in just two years, pro-abortionists decided, as usual, to stick their heads in the sand and ignore statistics that did not suit them. For example, two researchers published the above statistics in the American Journal of Public Health and then bleated in the same article that "The major impact of the Massachusetts law [requiring parental consent for minor's abortion] has been to send a monthly average of between 90 and 95 of the state's pregnant minors across state lines in search of an abortion ... Massachusetts minors continue to conceive, abort, and give birth in the same proportions as before the law was implemented."[18]

Curiously, the authors of the above study did not provide any proof of their claims that the Massachusetts law was ineffective at curbing teen abortions. Nor did they note that the teen abortion rate in neighboring states without parental involvement laws did not rise in response to the mini-migration of Massachusetts teens into them for the purpose of obtaining abortions.

References: Legislation on Abortion.

[1] Thomas Jefferson, quoted in Thomas Longua. "The Forgotten Issue in the "Abortion Debate."" The Wanderer, August 17, 1989, page 4.

[2] The Marquis de Sade. Juliette (New York: Grove Paperbacks, Inc.), 1968 pages 782 and 783.

[3] Faye Wattleton. "Reproductive Rights Are Fundamental Rights." The Humanist, January/February 1991, page 21.

[4] Rebecca Chalker and Carol Downer. A Woman's Book of Choices: Abortion, Menstrual Extraction, RU-486. Four Walls Eight Windows Press, Post Office 548, Village Station, New York, New York 10014. 1992, 271 pages.

[5] Lana Clarke Phelan. "Abortion Laws: The Cruel Fraud." Speech presented at the First California Conference on Abortion at Santa Barbara, California in March of 1968 by the Society for Humane Abortion, Inc., San Francisco, California.

[6] Junius Hoag, Attorney at Law. "Abortion and the Law." Medico-Legal Journal of New York, Volume 8 (1890), pages 125 and 126.

[7] Freedom of Choice Act cosponsor Don Edwards (D-Ca), quoted on a January 22, 1990 National Abortion Rights Action League briefing on C-SPAN.

[8] "The Week." National Review, December 3, 1990, page 12. Also see Mark Clements. "Results From a National Survey: Should Abortion Remain Legal?" Parade Magazine, may 17, 1992, pages 4 and 5.

[9] American Civil Liberties Union. Reproductive Rights Update, December 20, 1991. Also see the ACLU pamphlet entitled "Civil Liberties in the 102nd Congress," 1991.

[10] Planned Parenthood's 1986 Annual Report, page 15.

[11] Susan Manuel. "Abortion Battle is Launched." USA Today, April 15, 1987, page 3A. Also see Planned Parenthood's 1987 Annual Report, page 11.

[12] Roberta Ulrich. "Bill Allows Military Hospitals Abroad to Perform Abortions." The Oregonian, May 23, 1991, page A10.

[13] Frontline Updates. "National Organization for Women Files Complaint on Judge Who Denied Abortion Request." National Right to Life News, December 9, 1982, page 4.

[14] "Judge Says State Interest in Children Overrides Parents." National Federation for Decency Journal, August 1986, page 18.

[15] Barrett Mosbacker. "Teen Pregnancy and School-Based Health Clinics." National Federation for Decency Journal, November/December 1986, pages 5 to 9.

[16] Robert W. Lee. "How Planned Parenthood Uses $30 Million in Tax Money to Promote Abortion." National Federation for Decency Journal, July 1987, page 5.

[17] Joyce Price. "Law Seen Decreasing Teen Abortions, Births." The Washington Times, March 15, 1991, page A3. The study quoted in the article is James L. Rogers, Ph.D., Robert F. Boruch, Ph.D., Geoarge B. Stoms, B.A., and Dorothy DeMoya, DNSc. "Impact of the Minnesota Parental Notification Law on Abortion and Birth." American Journal of Public Health, March 1991, pages 294 to 298.

[18] Virginia G. Cartoof and Lorraine V. Klerman. "Parental Consent for Abortion: Impact of the Massachusetts Law." American Journal of Public Health, Volume 76, Number 4, April 1986, pages 397 to 400.

Further Reading: Legislation on Abortion.

Dave Andrusko (editor). A Passion for Justice
National Right to Life Committee, 419 7th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC 20004. 1988, 160 pages. This is one of an excellent continuing series of National Right to Life books that summarize the preceding year in the courts and legislatures, and look ahead to future years.

Issues in Law and Medicine. 
Edited by James Bopp, Jr. of the National Legal Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled. A publication which updates the legal and medical issues pertaining to the medical treatment for handicapped and disabled persons of all ages. Subscribe by writing to: National Center for the Medically Dependent and Disabled, Post Office Box 1586, Terre Haute, Indiana 47808-1586.

National Right to Life News. 
This biweekly newspaper is published by the National Right to Life Committee. It is probably the best overall source of information on ongoing state and federal involvement in all three branches in both abortion and euthanasia. Subscription for one year can be ordered from 419-7th Street, NW, Suite 402, Washington, DC 20004. Most local Right to Life affiliate groups file back issues of this magazine. Addresses and phone numbers of these groups are provided in Chapter 20 of Volume I, "Pro-Life Organizations." Call these organizations for up-to-date information on protective abortion legislation in your state.

© American Life League BBS — 1-703-659-7111

This is a chapter of the Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia published by American Life League.