Laws Relating to Abortion, the Death Penalty, and Assisted Dying

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Considering the controversy that surrounds some issues within the different cultures, there is usually the need to have laws to regulate them. Moreover, different sections of the population hold differing views on the approach required for each issue. Abortion, the death penalty, and assisted dying make the list of such issues. As such, they have laws that code, regulate and limit why, when, and in what manner they occur.

Many states have laws limiting and regulating when and the circumstances under which a woman may have an abortion. However, the landmark case of Roe vs Wade

in 1973 upheld the right to privacy for women as guaranteed by the 14th

amendment. This ruling thus legalised access to abortions (Ekland). Nevertheless, there are still far too many restrictions imposed on state laws concerning this issue. Forty-two of the state’s laws actually require that only licensed physicians conduct abortions, while 19 of them expect these operations to occur within a hospital setting. Additionally, forty-three of the states actually prohibit abortions and only allow them when the pregnancy endangers the life and health of the mother. Other considerations by the laws are state and private insurance, parental involvement in the case of minors, and state-mandated counselling.

Concisely, the death penalty refers to capital punishment in form of death imposed due to the commission of a crime. The Supreme Court, the military, and more than half of the US states have laws that allow for the death penalty. Additionally, The Supreme Court upheld its constitutionalism in 1976 in the Gregg vs Georgia

case, observing that it is legal and exists within the boundaries of the 8th

and 14th amendments. Other notable changes to the law are that it does not apply to criminals with mental retardation, those below the age of 18 years, and cases where the crime committed did not result to the victim’s death (Sethuraju).

Assisted dying, often termed as death with dignity, is usually a physician-assisted process carried out on terminally ill patients to hasten their imminent and inevitable death. The laws on the issue give the patient the right to make a decision on the amount of pain and suffering that he or she should endure. Although they differ slightly, as of April 2018, Colorado, Washington, Vermont, Oregon, California, and the District of Colombia had already passed death with dignity laws. The Hawaii statute on the issue is set to take effect as from the beginning of 2019, while in Montana, the Supreme Court made it legal in 2009 (Ekland, 2014).

Overall, the three practices have some bit of contention, regardless of the culture. As a result, there are various laws that regulate these practices. The discomfort that people have with discussing these issues is why the laws tend to differ, such as in communities that feel that abortion needs to be legal or have fewer restrictions. Furthermore, acts such as the death penalty and assisted dying are seen as inhumane in some cultures and thus not considered by many states, unless in extreme cases or other special circumstances.

Works Cited

Ekland-Olson, Sheldon. Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?: Abortion, Neonatal Care, Assisted Dying, and Capital Punishment. Routledge, 2014.

Sethuraju, Raj, Jason Sole, and Brian E. Oliver. "Understanding Death Penalty Support and Opposition among Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement Students."SAGE Open6.1 (2016): 2158244015624952.

December 12, 2023



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