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Hastings Cent Rep. 1989 Mar-Apr;19(2):36-8.

Webster and the politics of abortion.

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Health Law Section, Boston University Schools of Medicine and Public Health.



Recent legal disputes regarding the constitutionality of statutes restricting abortion in the US center around whether women and their physicians will make decisions about abortions or whether such decisions will be the domain of state legislatures. In 1989, the Missouri 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard a case (Webster) involving a state statute designed to restrict access to abortion. The statute under question included an assumption that life begins at conception, a hospitalization requirement, the requirement that a physician determine viability, a ban on use of public funds for abortion, and restrictions on the use of public facilities for pregnancy terminations. A federal trial court declared these provisions unconstitutional; however, Missouri is seeking Supreme Court review of the Webster decision. Since abortion has become the most frequently performed medical procedure in the US, it is unlikely to be outlawed. However, a narrowing of abortion rights seems inevitable. In addition to further restrictions on indirect government support in terms of facilities and funding, there will likely be efforts to add restrictions to minors seeking abortions and to confine abortions to earlier points in pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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