Is it time to Rethink Fetal "Viability"as the Criteria for Limiting the Right to Abortion?
In 1973, the Roe v Wade decision recognized a limited right to abortion whereby states could restrict abortion after the point at which the fetus was potentially "viable." Despite Supreme Court language that prohibits such actions, numerous states have enacted laws that establish a criteria for that point in pregnancy: a particular gestational limit, the beginning of the third trimester, physical health consequences, or second physician involvement. More recently states have adopted "viability testing" requirements or onerous reporting requirements as ways to further restrict later abortion care. Additionally, five states now severely limit abortion after 20 weeks of gestations based on the scientifically unsupported idea that the fetus can feel pain at that point in pregnancy. This presentation reviews the myriad of state laws related to later abortion and their scientific justifications. Finally it explores the idea that an upper limit on the right to abortion is inherently problematic no matter what the scientific justification.
About the Speaker:
Tracy Weitz, PhD, MPA is Director of the Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) program of the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). She holds a joint appointment as an Associate Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences in the UCSF School of Medicine and Assistant Adjunct Professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Science in UCSF School of Nursing. A qualitative sociologist with a background in health care administration, her research focuses on innovative strategies to expand abortion provision in the U.S.