Federal and State Bans and Restrictions on Abortion

Federal Abortion Ban

On April 18, 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the first-ever federal law banning abortion procedures and gave politicians the green light to interfere in the private health care decisions of women and families. 

The federal abortion ban criminalizes abortions in the second trimester of pregnancy that doctors say are often the safest and best way to protect women's health. The ban affects more than just the women who need second-trimester abortions and the doctors who care for them, because the Supreme Court's decision abandoned more than 30 years of precedent that put women’s health first when it came to laws that restrict access to abortion. 

We must stand up to politicians who want to restrict a woman's ability to make her own health care decisions in consultation with her doctor.

Read more about the history of the federal abortion ban.

20-Week Ban

For years, Arizona Representative Trent Franks has been pushing a bill that would ban abortion in the District of Columbia after 20 weeks. Now he wants to take his unconstitutional ban nationwide.

In states that have passed laws like this, some women and their families have been put into heartbreaking and tragic situations — needing to end a pregnancy for serious medical reasons, but unable to do so. Politics has no place preventing doctors and other health professionals from informing patients about all their health care options, and doctors should not be criminalized for providing constitutionally protected care. 

While a majority of abortions in the U.S. occur in the first trimester, it is important that a woman and her doctor have every medical option available. Laws banning abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy would take a deeply personal decision out of the hands of a woman and her doctor.

State Abortion Restrictions

Attempts to restrict and even ban abortion at the state level are part of an ongoing effort to deny women their right to make their own personal medical decisions. As state politicians across the country succeed in restricting access to abortion, women are paying the price. Laws that restrict access to abortion hurt women's health and endanger their safety.

Already state legislatures have passed or proposed many dangerous requirements: 

Some of the unprecedented attacks on women’s access to abortion include:

  • Mandatory ultrasounds before women can get an abortion — this burdensome regulation is sometimes imposed even on victims of rape and incest. Some policies require physicians to force a woman to view the ultrasound, and deliver politically motivated statements to the woman, even if she declines to view or listen to them.
  • Mandatory waiting periods of up to 72 hours prior to an abortion, after a woman’s initial consultation with her doctor and requirements to attend biased counseling from an unlicensed, unaccredited, and unregulated “crisis pregnancy center.”
  • Banning private insurance coverage of abortion, and in turn taking away the comprehensive insurance coverage most women currently have.
  • Onerous and medically unnecessary regulations on abortion providers — for example, requiring that hallways in a health center measure a certain width — with the goal of shutting down abortion providers when they are unable to comply.

Planned Parenthood is committed to helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, but they do occur. And for women facing unintended pregnancies, prompt access to safe, legal abortion is imperative.

Planned Parenthood knows that the only way to reduce the need for abortion is to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. The real solution is to increase — not decrease — access to comprehensive sex education and affordable birth control.


Clinic Defenders

You can help ensure access to safe and legal abortion.