The Geography of Abortion Rights

68 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2020 Last revised: 9 Nov 2020

See all articles by B. Jessie Hill

B. Jessie Hill

Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Date Written: 2020

Abstract

Total or near-total abortion bans passed in recent years have garnered tremendous public attention. But another recent wave of more modest-looking abortion restrictions consists of laws regulating the geography of abortion provision through management of spaces, places, and borders. In the 1990s and early 2000s, numerous states adopted laws regulating the physical spaces where abortions can be performed. These laws include mandates that abortions be performed in particular kinds of places, such as ambulatory surgical centers, or that abortion-providing facilities have agreements in place with local hospitals. One consequence of such regulations has been to reduce the availability of abortion services within the geographical borders of a particular state and to require people to travel out of state in order to terminate a pregnancy. Other abortion controversies, too, have foregrounded the significance of state and even national borders, as in the cases of unaccompanied immigrant minors who sought abortions while in the custody of the U.S. Government. Thus, an entire subset of abortion restrictions intentionally targets the geography of abortion provision, inevitably impacts the geographical distribution of abortion services, or both. Yet, the geographical dimension of abortion restrictions has gone largely unappreciated in the legal literature. This Article thus aims to provide an overview of the geography of abortion regulation. It first considers the unique impact and attractiveness of spatial regulations, demonstrating that spatial regulations differ from other forms of abortion regulation in their tendency to exploit and aggravate preexisting social inequality in ways that make it appear natural or unavoidable. Second, this Article considers the jurisprudential implications of this “spatial turn” in three specific areas: the right to travel, private non-delegation doctrine, and the concept of viability in abortion doctrine

Keywords: abortion, liberty, 14th Amendment, Roe v. Wade, Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, June Medical Services v. Russo, TRAP laws, geography, right to travel

JEL Classification: K36

Suggested Citation

Hill, Beatrice Jessie, The Geography of Abortion Rights (2020). Georgetown Law Journal, (2021 Forthcoming), Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2020-12, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3702574

Beatrice Jessie Hill (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States

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