U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Courtesy of the White House)
**FILE** U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland (Courtesy of the White House)

The debate over women’s right to choose in the reproduction arena stepped up to a new, combative level Sept. 9 with U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuit Sept. 9, challenging the constitutionality of a Texas law that bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy.

Texas enacted the abortion ban “in defiance of the constitution,” the lawsuit contends, saying  “the law violates individuals’ rights to have an abortion procedure prior to viability, which is usually around 24 weeks.”

“The United States has the authority and responsibility to ensure that no state can deprive individuals of their constitutional rights through a legislative scheme specifically designed to prevent the vindication of those rights,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Texas’ strict abortion law differs from other state and district laws throughout the country. Different states have different restrictions for abortions, but Texas’ has become one of the most stringent.

In Washington D.C., for example, there are fewer limitations on abortion rights. Girls under the age of 18 seeking an abortion in Washington, D.C. do not need parental consent or notification to have an abortion compared to its neighboring states of Maryland and Virginia which require some consent or notification from an adult family member, according to Planned Parenthood.

The Texas abortion ban challenges the 1973 Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion in all 50 states. This case also challenged a law in Texas which at the time made abortions illegal unless given permission by a doctor under the circumstances that a woman’s life would be at risk due to the pregnancy.

After the ruling deemed the Texas law unconstitutional, all 50 states legalized abortion but restrictions in some states were put in place.

In Virginia, only doctors licensed by the state to practice medicine and to conduct surgery are allowed to perform the procedures. The state also requires that second trimester abortions be conducted at a licensed general hospital or outpatient hospital. Abortions after the third trimester are illegal in the state of Virginia unless a doctor says that the woman’s life is at risk due to the pregnancy.

In Maryland, a parent/guardian needs to be notified for a minor (person under the age of 18) to have an abortion. Contrary to Virginia law, in Maryland the minor does not need to have adult consent to have the abortion, however, they need to be aware of the minor’s choice to have an abortion. There are caveats to this law however, the judgment of the doctor plays a vital role into whether a minor needs to inform a parent or guardian of their choice. The doctor can waive the parental or guardian notification if the minor has enough maturity to make their own decision, the minor’s safety is at risk (risk of possible abuse), it is not in the best interest of the minor to notify their parent/guardian, the minor does not have a parent/guardian and the attempt to notify a parent/guardian was unsuccessful.

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