4 N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Soc. Change 83 (1974)
Hill-Burton Hospitals after Roe and Doe: Can Federally Funded Hospitals Refuse to Perform Abortions

handle is hein.journals/nyuls4 and id is 91 raw text is: HILL-BURTON HOSPITALS AFTER ROE AND DOE:
CAN FEDERALLY FUNDED HOSPITALS
REFUSE TO PERFORM ABORTIONS?
I. INTRODUCTION
In the landmark decisions of Roe v. Wadel and Doe v. Bolton,2 the Supreme
Court balanced the conflicting interests of the pregnant woman, the fetus and the state,
and proclaimed in its Roe opinion the following rules. First, during the initial trimester
of pregnancy, abortion decisions are within the sole discretion of the woman and her
physician. Thereafter, from the beginning of the second trimester, the state's interest in
maternal health becomes sufficiently compelling that it may regulate abortion
procedures to the extent such regulation reasonably relates to maternal health. Finally,
at the point of viability of the fetus,3 the state's compelling interest in potential life
becomes controlling and it may proscribe all abortions except those necessary to save
the life or health of the mother.4 From the period of conception to the compelling
point, the decision to terminate a pregnancy, arrived at betwcen a woman and her
physician, may be effected by an abortion free of interference by the state.5
While Roe and Doe guarantee a woman's right to choose to terminate her
pregnancy free of state interference within the guidelines set by the Court, they do not
guarantee her an absolute right to an abortion. To the extent that states do not
subsidize abortions, a woman's ability to obtain an abortion is limited by her ability to
pay.6 Financial considerations aside, the freedom from state interference is of little
consequence unless facilities suitable for the performance of abortions are located
within a reasonable distance of the woman's place of residence and are willing to
perform such operations.7 The Court's abortion decisions do not require the states to
provide abortion facilities. States need only refrain from interfering with a woman's
decision to obtain an abortion before their interest in maternal health or unborn life
becomes compelling.
1 410 U.S. 113 (1973).
2 410 U.S. 179 (1973).
3 Usually 28 weeks, but it may occur as early as 24. 410 U.S. at 160, citing L. Hellman &
J. Pritchard, Williams Obstetrics 493 (14th ed. 1971).
4 410 U.S. at 163-64.
5 Id. at 163. The Supreme Court recognized a right to privacy under the due process clause
of the fourteenth amendment and determined that the constitutional right to privacy is broad
enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. Id. at 153.
This fundamental right is not unlimited, however. Regulation is justified where a compelling
state interest exists. Id. at 154.
6 See Comment, Abortion on Demand in a Post-Wade Concept: Must the State Pay the
Bills? 41 Fordham L. Rev. 921 (1973).
7
Despite the landmark decision, there are many areas in the U.S. where it is still difficult to
obtain abortions. A number of states have rewritten their laws to comply with the
requirements of the court. But a survey by TIME correspondents around the country revals
that many of the old obstacles to abortion remain.
Time, Feb. 4, 1974, at 60.
83

Imaged with the Permission of N.Y.U. Review of Law and Social Change

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