Abortion Rulings Refined Over Last 16 Years

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

ROE v. Wade, one of the most controversial Supreme Court rulings of all time, left to a woman the decision of whether to have an abortion during her first three months of pregnancy. This 1973 ruling, however, gave states the right to regulate abortions in the second and third trimesters. The state authority is not absolute. How far a state might go in imposing restrictions - and the nature of these curbs - has prompted a series of abortion-related Supreme Court rulings over the past 16 years. Among them:

The lifting of restrictions on facilities used to perform abortions (1973).

The denial of the right of husbands to prevent their wives from having abortions (1976).

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The refusal to give parents of minor, unwed girls absolute veto over abortions (1976), but the right of states to require parental consent as long as an alternative, such as court approval, is provided (1979).

The right to require medical doctors to inform parents of girls considered ``too immature'' to decide for themselves (1981).

The relieving of states from the legal obligation to pay for ``nontherapeutic'' abortions (1977).

The removal of a requirement for 24-hour waiting period between the signing of an abortion consent form and the performing of the operation (1983).

The invalidation of a state law that made abortion more difficult for some teen-agers (1987).

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