Abortion in Texas

Essay by Beunkia June 2003

download word file, 14 pages 3.9


Abortion 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 Miscarriage

of Woman Act of 1803 ("Lord Ellen borough's Act," 43 Geo. 3, c. 58.), introduced

a statutory abortion scheme in England. Pre-quickening abortion was made a

felony and post-quickening abortion was a capital crime. In 1837, with abolition

of the death penalty, 7 Will. 4 & 1 Vict., c. 85. § 6, the quickening

distinction was removed and all abortion was punished as a single felony. In

1861, the Offenses Against the Person Act, 24 & 25 Vict., c. 100, § 59,

introduced a replacement statutory scheme, where, as before, all abortions were

felonies. 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 fide

efforts to save the mother's life. A common law health exception to the OAPA was

introduced in 1938 by Rex v. Bourne, [1939]...