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District of Columbia

The pre-Roe statute prohibited performance of an abortion unless the procedure was “necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life or health . . . .”1  The constitutionality of the statute was upheld in United States v. Vuitch,2 where the Supreme Court broadly defined “health” as “the state of being sound in body or mind,” which “includes psychological as well as physical well-being.”3  The pre-Roe statute was repealed in 2003.4  The overruling of Roe v. Wade would not affect the legality of abortion in the District of Columbia.  Abortions could be performed for any reason at any time of pregnancy.


1 D.C. Code Ann. § 22-201 (1967), renumbered as § 22-101 in 1988.  See D.C. Code Ann. § 22-101 (2001).

2 402 U.S. 62 (1971).

3 Id. at 72.

4 Act No. 15-255, signed Nov. 25, 2003, effective April 29, 2004, D.C. Law 15-154.


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May be reprinted without permission but with attribution to the Life Legal Defense Fund.