Does the Constitution Protect Abortions Based on Fetal Anomaly?: Examining the Potential for Disability-Selective Abortion Bans in the Age of Prenatal Whole Genome Sequencing

38 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2018

See all articles by Greer Donley

Greer Donley

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

This Note examines whether the state or federal government has the power to enact a law that prevents women from obtaining abortions based on their fetus’s genetic abnormality. Such a ban has already been enacted in North Dakota and introduced in Indiana and Missouri. I argue below that this law presents a novel state intrusion on a woman’s right to obtain a pre-viability abortion. Moreover, these pieces of legislation contain an outdated understanding of prenatal genetic testing—the landscape of which is quickly evolving as a result of a new technology: prenatal whole genome sequencing. This Note argues that the incorporation of this new technology into clinical care will both invigorate anti-choice legislatures to pursue such legislation and cause the laws’ impact on women to be greater than initially anticipated. Using the undue burden standard announced in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, this Note concludes that federal and state disability-selective abortion bans are unconstitutional based on the Due Process Clause. The Note also questions whether the federal government has constitutional authority under its enumerated powers to even enact such a ban. Finally, the Note presents policy reasons for why such an abortion ban will degrade the right to a pre-viability abortion so significantly as to render it non-existent.

Keywords: gender and law, constitutional law, substantive due process, commerce clause, constitutional law, legislation, reproductive rights, abortion, Fourteenth Amendment

Suggested Citation

Donley, Greer, Does the Constitution Protect Abortions Based on Fetal Anomaly?: Examining the Potential for Disability-Selective Abortion Bans in the Age of Prenatal Whole Genome Sequencing (2013). Michigan Journal of Gender & Law, Vol. 20, p. 291, 2013, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3224637

Greer Donley (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.law.pitt.edu/people/greer-donley

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