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Cross CurrentsFamily Law and Policy in the US and England$
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Sanford N. Katz, John Eekelaar, and Mavis MacLean

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198268208

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.001.0001

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The Shadowlands: The Regulation of Human Reproduction in the United States

The Shadowlands: The Regulation of Human Reproduction in the United States

Chapter:
(p.142) (p.143) 7 The Shadowlands: The Regulation of Human Reproduction in the United States
Source:
Cross Currents
Author(s):

Georgi J. Annas

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198268208.003.0007

There is virtually no governmental regulation of human reproduction in the United States. There are three reasons for this regulatory vacuum: historic, economic, and political. Historically, although physicians have been licensed by the individual states for almost a hundred years, states have permitted the medical profession itself to define the practice of medicine, including what procedures (such as new reproductive technologies) are medical. Economically, the United States is in the grips of free market medicine. Politically, the continuing national debate on abortion, most recently focusing on so-called ‘partial birth abortion’ statutes aimed at outlawing a specific method of abortion, has profoundly diluted public support for government regulation of anything related to pregnancy. Although all three reasons are important, abortion politics continues to dominate anti-government interference with reproduction rhetoric. This chapter begins with an overview of U.S. abortion law since 1973, the year the most important health case in the country’s history, Roe v Wade, was decided.

Keywords:   United States, government regulation, human reproduction, medicine, free market, abortion, pregnancy, politics, abortion law

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