CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Murtagh on Immigration and Abortion Crimes

Lauren Murtagh has posted Is Performing an Abortion a Removable Offense? Abortion Within the Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude Framework (109 Va. L. Rev., Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Before Roe v. Wade was decided, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) found that performing an illegal abortion was a crime involving moral turpitude in the context of immigration law. As a result, pre-Roe, a noncitizen could potentially be removed from or declared inadmissible to the United States if they were convicted of performing an illegal abortion. Since the BIA’s last decision pertaining to abortion and moral turpitude, however, Roe has been both decided and overruled, suggesting that society’s view on the “morality” of abortion is not necessarily consistent with its view at the time these cases were decided. Thus, these earlier decisions should not be taken as dispositive. The term “crimes involving moral turpitude” has been interpreted by courts and the BIA to evolve as the values of society change. This fluid definition has led to an inconsistent application of the term moral turpitude over time and across jurisdictions.

This paper explores the case law related to moral turpitude and abortion in order to analyze the post Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization abortion bans within the immigration moral turpitude context. Performing an illegal abortion should not be found to be a crime involving moral turpitude. Many abortion statutes do not meet the moral turpitude intent requirement, and, even under those that do meet the intent requirement, the behavior itself would not be considered base, vile, and depraved by federal standards.

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