California has some of the least-restrictive abortion laws of any state in the nation, according to people on both sides of the issue.
Of the three states that border the Golden State, one — Oregon — joins California in having some of the nation’s least-restrictive reproductive rights laws. Another, Nevada, maintains abortion laws that are less restrictive than most states but more restrictive than California’s. The third, Arizona, has abortion laws considerably more restrictive than California’s.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 issued the Roe v. Wade decision giving women nationwide the right to an abortion while leaving state lawmakers to decide how strictly they wanted to regulate the procedure. California legislators have since amended the state’s abortion laws in a manner that left it ranked as the nation's best state for reproductive rights in 2013, according to the website of NARAL Pro-Choice America
. Among California’s neighbors, NARAL placed Oregon at sixth best, Nevada at 12th best and Arizona at 26th best.
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The pro-life group Americans United for Life, in a report
released in January on its website, listed California as being the nation’s fourth least-protective state in terms of enacting anti-abortion legislation. Among California’s neighbors, the report named Oregon as third least-protective, Vermont as ninth least-protective and Arizona as 39th least-protective (or 12th most-protective).
Some differences in abortion laws between California and its neighboring states include that:
California in 2013 became one of five states in which abortion-inducing drugs could be administered by some non-physicians, including nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants and certified nurse-midwives, Fox News reported
. That was also allowed in Oregon but not in Nevada or Arizona.
The California Supreme Court has declared unconstitutional a law legislators passed requiring a physician to have either a court order or the consent of one parent prior to performing an abortion for anyone under age 18, according to Americans United for Life. Arizona requires parental consent while Oregon and Nevada join California in not requiring that parents be informed or give consent, according to the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute
. Enforcement of a law approved by Nevada legislators requiring parental notification but not consent was “permanently enjoined by court order,” Guttmacher said.
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California, Oregon and Nevada allow partial-birth abortions while Arizona does not, according to Guttmacher.
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