Although the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling legalized abortion at the federal level, many states have restricted the procedure through various regulatory and statutory tactics. Texas has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, including mandatory ultrasound imaging and parental consent for minors. Additionally, women seeking abortion-inducing medications must make four visits to a doctor and obtain an ultrasound.
The Law After Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt
Although women have a constitutional right to abortion, states like Texas have attempted to place restrictions on certain aspects of the procedure. In a 5-3 decision by the United States Supreme Court in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a Texas law was struck down which placed specific requirements on abortion clinics, including requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic and setting clinic standards similar to those of surgical centers. The court ruled that these laws are unconstitutional and unduly restrictive of a woman's right to abortion services.
The Main Provisions
The main provisions of Texas abortion laws are highlighted in the table below. See FindLaw's Reproductive Rights section to learn more.
|Code Section||Civ. Stat. §§4512.5, H&S 245.001 et seq.|
|Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion||(1) Destroys the vitality or life of child in birth or before (which otherwise would have been born alive); (2) operating a facility without license, failure to meet Board of Health standards, or failure to make reports to Department of Health; (3) act performed after pregnancy with intent to cause termination of pregnancy other than for purpose of birth of live fetus or removal of dead fetus; (4) with public funds except for cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest; (5) after 20 weeks of gestation (or 22 weeks, if calculated from last monthly period), unless necessary to preserve the life of health of the woman.
|Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion||Abortion during third trimester of viable child permissible only if necessary to prevent death or substantial risk of serious impairment to woman's physical or mental health, or if fetus has severe and irreversible abnormality.|
|Penalty for Unlawful Abortion||Abortion of viable fetus: imprisonment 5 years to life; operating facility without license: fine $100 to $500 per day, Class C misdemeanor; failure to report as legally required: Class A misdemeanor.|
|Consent Requirements||Parent of a minor must consent and be notified prior to the procedure.
|Residency Requirements for Patients||-|
|Physician Licensing Requirements||Licensed physician, Third trimester: must certify in writing medical indications supporting M.D.'s judgement. Private hospital or facility is not required to make their facilities available for an abortion unless M.D. determines mother's life is immediately endangered.|
Woman must undergo ultrasound, be shown the image, and have the image described to her. If she lives within 100 miles of an abortion clinic, ultrasound must be obtained at least 24 hours in advance of the abortion.
If seeking abortion-inducing medications (such as RU-486), must make four visits to a licensed physician.
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- contact a Texas constitutional attorney or health care attorney, or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Texas Abortion Laws: Related Resources
Have Concerns About Texas Abortion Laws? Talk to a Local Attorney
Even though you have the constitutionally guaranteed right to safe and legal abortion in the United States, individual states are free to enact certain restrictions. If you are having difficulty accessing an abortion service provider or have other legal concerns, you should talk to a Texas family law attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.