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District of Columbia Abortion Laws

While the U.S. Supreme Court recognizes a constitutional right to have an abortion, beneath the right lies considerable debate about how it can and should be exercised. The Court has struggled to make this determination, and abortion debates over upholding Roe v. Wade and partial birth abortion continue.

Many state abortion laws regulate abortion. Minors may have to receive parental consent, doctors may have to provide patients with specific information, and restrictions on later term pregnancies are common. Nationwide abortion is generally legal but state and local laws may play a significant role in how abortion occurs in reality.

Here’s a quick summary of abortion laws in Washington D.C. There’s also information on Maryland abortion laws and Virginia abortion laws here as well.

D.C.’s Abortion Laws

Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973. Before then, all fifty states and Washington D.C. generally banned abortion. Criminal statutes penalized doctors and women who engaged in it. Since Roe, state abortion laws have been a battleground in the national abortion debate. Pro-choice and pro-life groups have made state restrictions and regulations of abortion a shifting and constantly changing landscape. Often federal courts end up having the last word.

Washington D.C. has the least restrictive abortion laws in the country. Abortions do not need to be performed by a licensed physician; the district does not ban late-term abortions; and there are no requirements that abortions be performed at a hospital or with a second doctor present. There are public funds available for women seeking an abortion in the case of rape or incest.

Code Section § 22-101 (repealed 2004)
Statutory Definition of Illegal Abortion -
Statutory Definition of Legal Abortion -
Penalty for Unlawful Abortion -
Consent Requirements -
Residency Requirements for Patients -
Physician Licensing Requirements -

Related Resources for D.C. Abortion Laws

Abortion discussions can engender passions whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life or a young woman or concerned parent. You can find more information on these pages about reproductive rights and abortion. For specific concerns about a particular case, we recommend contacting a local lawyer for further advice and assistance.

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