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Abortion In Texas Essay

3402 words - 14 pages

AbortionAbortion is a tremendous issue in our society today. This is one of the many reasons why the issue that I will be discussing in my paper in regards to the current issues involving abortion law in Texas.Some brief background about abortion is that historically, in Anglo-American law, abortion had been criminalized, at least from the point of "quickening" (c.15-18 weeks) and often severely punished. Liberalization of abortion laws in both countries began to occur in the later 1960's. English Law Henry Bracton, (1216-1272) "the Father of Common Law," apparently regarded abortion (at least after 5 or six weeks) as homicide and it seems that at early Common Law abortion was a felony, and, therefore, a hanging offense. Later commentators, Coke and Blackstone, held expressly that abortion after quickening was not the crime of murder, but a separate crime (a "grave misprision"). It is unclear whether pre-quickening abortion was still criminalized. The Miscarriageof Woman Act of 1803 ("Lord Ellen borough's Act," 43 Geo. 3, c. 58.), introduceda statutory abortion scheme in England. Pre-quickening abortion was made afelony and post-quickening abortion was a capital crime. In 1837, with abolitionof the death penalty, 7 Will. 4 & 1 Vict., c. 85. § 6, the quickeningdistinction was removed and all abortion was punished as a single felony. In1861, the Offenses Against the Person Act, 24 & 25 Vict., c. 100, § 59,introduced a replacement statutory scheme, where, as before, all abortions werefelonies. In 1929, the Infant Life (Preservation) Act, 19 & 20 Geo. 5, c. 34,was passed. It supplemented the OAPA and included a defense for bona fideefforts to save the mother's life. A common law health exception to the OAPA wasintroduced in 1938 by Rex v. Bourne, [1939] 1 K. B. 687, 3 All E. R. 615 (1938).Finally, the Abortion Act of 1967, while maintaining the general prohibition ofabortion, introduced broad exceptions for genetic defects, and the mental andphysical health of the mother. Under this law, abortion is generally permitted ifa pregnancy is unwanted, as childbirth is seen as more of a health threat thanearly abortion. However, this law does not apply uniformly throughout the U.K.,e.g. Man and Jersey. In the United States, before general codification of law became commonplace in the 19th century, criminal law was based on the Common Law inherited from England. Therefore, states followed the law as it existed in England. (Exactlywhat this was could vary depending on when the state is said to have "received"the common law.) As states and territories slowly began to opt for statutory criminal law over common law, abortion laws were inevitably included. Most of these took after theEnglish scheme of 1803. Connecticut was the first, in 1821, passing a law makingpost-quickening abortion a felony. New York followed in 1828 with a statutemaking a felony of post-quickening abortion and a misdemeanor of pre-quickeningabortion. Through the...

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