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In 1973, the Supreme Court clarified the legal rights to an abortion; under the Bill of Right’s Right to Privacy, women have the right to an abortion, with some limitation. The Roe v. Wade decision set out the framework for abortion: during the first trimester, women have an unrestricted right to an abortion; during the second trimester, there are regulations designed to protect a woman’s health, but not to further the government’s interest in life; and during the third trimester, there are prohibitions to an abortion so long as the woman’s health is not affected.

However, in 1992, the Supreme Court modified abortion laws, concluding that individual states were permitted to establish certain limitations on abortions. For instance, states can require that abortions are performed in hospitals or clinics, states can set a 24 hour waiting period on abortions, and women under the age of 18 must get consent from their parents before obtaining an abortion. However, a woman does not have to give consent to the father of the child (whether he is a spouse or not) before obtaining an abortion.

Additionally, Congress has recently passed a ban on partial birth abortions, making them illegal in the United States. However, as of this writing, the law is not yet in effect, and is expected to undergo some legal challenges before it can be put into law.


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