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  • Undermining Patient Autonomy By Regulating Informed Consent for Abortion

    Specifically, this article will consider two recent pieces of legislation that impose restrictive provisions on abortion rights—South Dakota House Bill 1217,31 and Texas House Bill 15.32 The South Dakota law requires women seeking abortion services to first receive counseling at a registered Pregnancy Help Center at a minimum of seventy-two hours before the abortion. The Texas law mandates that women receive an ultrasound at least twenty-four hours before undergoing an abortion, and that the doctor must display the image and make audible the heartbeat, and further describe the images to the patient. This paper will first examine the constitutional challenges brought in response to the South Dakota legislation and analyze them under an undue burden analysis as outlined in Casey, and analyze the constitutional challenges to the Texas legislation under a strict scrutiny analysis. Then, in keeping with the Court‘s moral and ethical approach under Gonzales and the majority‘s concern for such ramifications, this article will examine both the South Dakota and Texas laws from a bioethical standpoint. Namely, this paper will consider the principle of autonomy in medical decision-making and analyze the laws under the scope of this principle. This article argues that the laws are not only unconstitutional by violating the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment, but also fail to uphold the principles of bioethics. In conclusion, this paper will suggest ways to amend the legislation at issue so that the laws are constitutional and ethically sound.