Understanding California Abortion Laws

Under What Circumstances can Women Do Abortion in California?

Abortion is a medical pregnancy termination that ends the life of the fetus and does not produce a live birth.

Abortion is legal in California and throughout the US. But California abortion law has some limits to pregnant women who want to terminate pregnancies. Specifically, a woman whose fetus has become viable is not allowed to get an abortion. Additionally, California law only allows qualified medical providers to perform legal abortions. An abortion performed outside the permitted parameters can lead to criminal charges.

The right to an abortion in California is absolute if the fetus is not yet viable or the procedure has to take place to protect the health or life of the mother. The woman’s right to abortion becomes more limited once the fetus is viable, and abortion can only happen necessarily for the health or life of the mother. Moreover, only qualified medical professionals can perform abortions, even if the fetus has become viable.

California abortion law does not give a strict cut-off date as to when pregnancy should be terminated. But apart from exceptional circumstances, a woman cannot perform an abortion once the fetus is viable. By definition, a fetus is viable when it has a high chance of surviving outside the uterus. It has to be able to survive without any extraordinary medical measures. Doctors are the ones to determine if a fetus is viable, and they decide on a case-by-case basis. In most cases, a fetus becomes viable during the 23rd week of pregnancy, and once it weighs about 500 grams.

California abortion law does not allow all medical professionals to perform a surgical abortion. They should have a valid medical license which cannot be revoked or suspended. Abortions by medication can be given by several healthcare professionals, including licensed nurses, midwives or physician’s assistants.

Underage women have to provide written consent before they get an abortion. Also, they would need to get one of their parents’ written consent.

An unlawful abortion on a minor can lead to criminal charges. The charges would be filed against the person who provided the abortion. A person who performs an abortion without complying with California law is a misdemeanor and can be charged with a fine of $1,000 and 30 days in jail. 

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