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So, Can You Go to Jail for Having an Abortion Now?

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By Ceylan Pumphrey, Esq. | Last updated on

Despite which side of the debate one falls on, abortion has always been a hot button issue. Those who are "pro-life" believe that it's more important to protect the life of a fetus than give women autonomy over their own bodies. On the other side of the debate, those who are "pro-choice" don't address whether abortion is right or wrong; instead, they argue that the government shouldn't be involved in decisions women make about their own body.

Although the U.S. Supreme Court has previously addressed this controversial topic, abortion laws are far from settled. In fact, many states have recently passed or are currently in the process of passing new laws regarding abortion. But, do these laws actually punish women who get an abortion? Read on to find out.

Overview of Recent Changes to Abortion Laws

Several states have recently passed laws addressing abortion. More specifically, they make it harder for women to get an abortion. Alabama has passed strictest law by banning abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio passed "heartbeat bills," which outlaws abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. This occurs usually in 6 to 8 weeks of pregnancy, often before a woman even knows she's pregnant.

It's important to note, that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade says that abortion is legal until the fetus is viable, which usually occurs at 24 to 28 weeks. As a result, these laws are likely to be the subject of many court cases. For example, a judge recently blocked Mississippi's new abortion law.

Who's Punished for Violating Abortion Laws?

Although these laws severely limit a woman's ability to get an abortion, they don't implement punishments for women who get one. For example, even under Alabama's abortion laws, only those who provide an abortion can be charged with a felony. Women who get an abortion do not face any criminal or civil penalties. The other states with new abortion laws also focus on punishing abortion providers, not the women who get an abortion.

If you've been charged with violating your state's abortion laws, or simply have questions about what would happen if you violated those laws, it's best to speak to a local criminal defense attorney.

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