Challenging and Reaffirming the LawWebster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989) represented an important challenge to legalized abortion. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Missouri lawthat declared that life begins at conception. It refused to consider a law banning the use of public funding for abortion counseling, leaving open the possibility that public funds could be denied in the future. The decision also upheld a Missouri law that prohibited the use of public facilities for performing abortions. The Webster case led to uncertainty about the abortion issue and opened avenues for state legislatures to try to pass new abortion restrictions.In 1992 the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right to abortion in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. But the decision also shifted the balance in the abortion debate. The Court reaffirmed Roe by recognizing a woman’s constitutionally protected right to choose an abortion before fetal viability. However, it also stated that this right must be balanced against a concern for protecting the interests of the unborn child. It held that the state could regulate abortions at any time after conception, as long as the regulations did not place an “undue burden” or “substantial obstacle” in the path of a woman seeking an abortion.The Casey decision also requires girls under a certain age to get parental consent for an abortion and requires anyone seeking an abortion to wait twenty-four hours before it can be performed. These parts of the decision placed additional restrictions on abortion rights.Since the Casey decision, much of the controversy over abortion has focused on violence directed at health clinics and abortion providers. In response, Congress passed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act in1994. This law made blocking the entrances of places providing abortion counseling or services a federal offense punishable by fines and imprisonment.Many pro-life activists have focused their attention on opposing so-called partial-birth abortions, a certain type of late-term abortions. In 1997 the U.S. Senate passed aban on these types of abortions, but President Bill Clinton vetoed the ban. Instead, he supported a compromise bill that banned late-term abortions except in cases where a woman faces death or serious injury to her health. By 1999, twenty-eight states had passed their own laws banning partial-birth abortions. State courts have since ruled a number of these bans unconstitutional. The Supreme Court ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart
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- Spring '12
- The Bible, United States.