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The laws governing abortion are the most controversial in the United States today. The disunity among states regarding these laws, particularly those that define a legal abortion, reflects society’s conflicting views toward abortion.

Abortion laws, as treated here, contain three main parts: a definition of an illegal abortion, a definition of a legal abortion, and a section dealing with consent and/or notice. There are also sections dealing with the penalties for violating the laws, residency requirements, waiting periods, and abortionists’ licensing requirements. These sections are impossible to compare. Because the Supreme Court through inconsistent rulings has caused the laws regulating abortion to be so unsettled, many state legislatures are not enacting any legislation pending the outcome of various lawsuits and federal legislation. Therefore, waiting periods, spousal notification, and other particulars mentioned below are not separately treated because the Court has virtually preempted the states’ power to legislate in these areas. However, these sections are ancillary to those questions regarding the legality of the act itself.