Concept: Roe v. Wade
Arguments that abortion causes women emotional harm are used to regulate abortion, particularly later procedures, in the United States. However, existing research is inconclusive. We examined women’s emotions and reports of whether the abortion decision was the right one for them over the three years after having an induced abortion.
Abortion laws in India, like other laws, are premised on the 1861 British Penal Code. The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in 1971 to circumvent the criminality clause around abortion. Yet the law continues to render invisible women’s right to choose. Legal procedures have often hindered in permitting abortion, resulting in the death of a mother or the foetus. Despite the latest techno-medical advances, the laws have remained stagnant or rather restrictive, complicated further by selective female foetus abortions. Legal resistance to abortion-seeking after 20 weeks gestation adversely affects women, depriving them of autonomy of choice. In this paper, raising important gender, health and ethical issues are illustrated through a recent legal case in India. Feminist campaigns against the legal mindset in India are emerging.
Despite decades of research on unintended pregnancies, we know little about the health implications for the women who experience them. Moreover, no study has examined the implications for women whose pregnancies occurred before Roe v. Wade was decided-nor whether the mental health consequences of these unintended pregnancies continue into later life. Using the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, a 60-year ongoing survey, we examined associations between unwanted and mistimed pregnancies and mental health in later life, controlling for factors such as early life socioeconomic conditions, adolescent IQ, and personality. We found that in this cohort of mostly married and White women, who completed their pregnancies before the legalization of abortion, unwanted pregnancies were strongly associated with poorer mental health outcomes in later life. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print December 21, 2015: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2015.302973).
The Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case is in many ways a sequel to the Court’s 2012 decision on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).(1),(2) Like the 2012 case, the decision was decided by a 5-to-4 vote, but in the initial ACA decision, Chief Justice John Roberts acted to “save” the ACA.(3) Not this time. Then the watchword was “broccoli,” as in forcing people to eat it; this time it is abortion, as in forcing employers to pay for it. To simplify, the choice facing the Court in the Hobby Lobby case was whether to . . .
All pregnant women, not just those who seek to end a pregnancy, have benefited from Roe v Wade. Today’s system of mass incarceration makes it likely that if Roe is overturned women who have abortions will go to jail. Efforts to establish separate legal “personhood” for fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses, however, are already being used as the basis for the arrests and detentions of and forced interventions on pregnant women, including those who seek to go to term. Examination of these punitive actions makes clear that attacks on Roe threaten all pregnant women not only with the loss of their reproductive rights and physical liberty but also with loss of their status as full constitutional persons. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 15, 2012: e1-e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301104).
Roe v. Wade was heralded as an end to unequal access to abortion care in the United States. However, today, despite being common and safe, abortion is performed only selectively in hospitals and private practices. Drawing on 61 interviews with obstetrician-gynecologists in these settings, we examine how they determine which abortions to perform. We find that they distinguish between more and less legitimate abortions, producing a narrative of stratified legitimacy that privileges abortions for intended pregnancies, when the fetus is unhealthy, and when women perform normative gendered sexuality, including distress about the abortion, guilt about failure to contracept, and desire for motherhood. This stratified legitimacy can perpetuate socially-inflected inequality of access and normative gendered sexuality. Additionally, we argue that the practice by physicians of distinguishing among abortions can legitimate legislative practices that regulate and restrict some kinds of abortion, further constraining abortion access.
The US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision had clear implications for American women’s reproductive rights and physician ability to carry out patient choices. Its effect on physician abortion training was less apparent. In an effort to increase patient access to abortions after Roe, provision shifted from hospitals to nonhospital clinics. However, these procedures and patients were taken out of the medical education realm, and physicians became vulnerable to intimidation. The consequent provider shortage created an unexpected barrier to abortion access. Medical Students for Choice was founded in 1993 to increase abortion-training opportunities for medical students and residents. Its mission ensures that motivated medical students will learn and a growing number of physicians will commit to comprehensive abortion provision. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print January 17, 2013: e1-e3. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301152).
The Zika virus epidemic rapidly spread across Brazil and Latin America, gaining international attention because of the causal relationship between Zika and birth defects. The high number of cases in Brazil has been attributed to a failure of the state to contain the epidemic and protect the affected people, especially women. Therefore, the public health crisis created by Zika exposed a stark conflict between Brazil’s constitutional right to health and the long-standing violation of reproductive rights in the country. Although health is considered to be a right of all in Brazil, women struggle with barriers to reproductive services and lack of access to safe and legal abortions. In response to the epidemic, women’s rights advocates have filed a lawsuit with Brazil’s supreme court that requires the decriminalization of abortion upon the diagnosis of Zika virus. However, the selective decriminalization of abortion may lead to negative social consequences and further stigmatization of people with disabilities. A solution to the reproductive health crisis in Brazil must reconcile women’s right to choose and the rights of people with disabilities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print July 20, 2017: e1-e5. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2017.303924).
The vicissitudes of life produce pregnancies which may be unwanted, or which may impair “health” … which, in the full setting of the case, may create such suffering, dislocations, misery, or tragedy as to make an early abortion the only civilized step to take. - Justice William O. Douglas, January 22, 1973, writing a concurring opinion in Roe v. Wade Whenever a sponsor conducts phase 3 trials of a new molecular entity to support Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for marketing, there are strong incentives to conduct the trials under conditions that will maximize efficacy and minimize the number . . .
The field of abortion counseling originated in the abortion rights movement of the 1970s. During its evolution to the present day, it has faced significant challenges, primarily arising from the increasing politicization and stigmatization of abortion since legalization. Abortion counseling has been affected not only by the imposition of anti-abortion statutes, but also by the changing needs of patients who have come of age in a very different era than when this occupation was first developed. One major innovation-head and heart counseling-departs in significant ways from previous conventions of the field and illustrates the complex and changing political meanings of abortion and therefore the challenges to abortion providers in the years following Roe v. Wade. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print November 15, 2012: e1-e9. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301063).