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"The Court today is correct in holding that the right asserted by Jane Roe is embraced within the personal liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is evident that the Texas abortion statute infringes that right directly. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a more complete abridgment of a constitutional freedom than that worked by the inflexible criminal statute now in force in Texas. The question then becomes whether the state interests advanced to justify this abridgment can survive the 'particularly careful scrutiny' that the Fourteenth Amendment here requires. The asserted state interests are protection of the health and safety of the pregnant woman, and protection of the potential future human life within her. But such legislation is not before us, and I think the Court today has thoroughly demonstrated that these state interests cannot constitutionally support the broad abridgment of personal liberty worked by the existing Texas law. Accordingly, I join the Court's opinion holding that that law is invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment" (Craig and O'Brien 17).
On January twenty-second, 1973 Justice Harry Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding the Roe vs. Wade case. A pregnant single woman, "Jane Roe," brought a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws, which proscribed procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother's life. Norma McCorvey, the real name of the plaintiff, was young and divorced at the time, searching for a solution to her unplanned pregnancy. "No legitimate doctor in Texas would touch me," stated McCorvey. "There I was - pregnant, unmarried, unemployed, alone and stuck" (Craig and O'Brien 5). The plaintiff's assertion was that prohibiting abortion at any time before birth violated a woman's constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court later agreed with Mrs. McCorvey, justifying the legality of abortion under the fourteenth amendment. A person's right to privacy now extended to choosing an abortion. Although the Court avoided the issue of when life actually begins, abortion became legal under this landmark Supreme Court decision. The debate over the legality of abortion had taken place in America for several decades, and the final decision rendered by Roe vs. Wade resonated among all Americans, influencing society to date.
Until the last third of the nineteenth century, when it was criminalized state by state across the land, abortion was legal before "quickening," which is approximately the fourth month of pregnancy. Colonial home medical guides gave recipes for instigating abortions with herbs that could be grown in one's garden or easily found in the woods. By the mid-eighteenth century, commercial preparations were widely available. Unfortunately, these drugs were often fatal. The first statutes regulating abortion, passed in the 1820s and 1830s, were actually poison-control laws: the sale of commercial abortifacients was banned, but abortion itself was not outlawed. Despite these new laws, the abortion business was booming by the 1840's, including the sale of illegal drugs, which were widely advertised in the popular press.
However, this trend would soon change. Following the 1840's, abortion would soon be under attack, and a string of anti-abortion laws would be passed until the twentieth century. The leading force behind the criminalization of abortion was physicians and the American Medical Association. The AMA was founded in 1847, and the illegalization of abortion was one of its highest priorities. To the growing movement, "abortion was both an immoral act and a medic
Quotes talked about in this paper
- "No legitimate doctor in Texas would touch me," stated McCorvey.
- Floyd explained that Texas "recognized the humanness of the embryo, or the fetus" and had "a compelling interest because of the protection of fetal life"
Terminology referenced in this essay
Names talked about in this research paper
Wade, Roe, David M. O’Brien, Craig, A pregnant single woman, Jay Floyd,
Organizations talked about in this research paper
Supreme Court, Committee on Criminal Abortion, conservative society, American Society,
Locations mentioned in this paper
Texas, United States,
Keywords included in this paper
abortion, Supreme Court, a woman, abortion laws, court decisions, criminal abortion, state interests, constitutional rights, Jane Roe, the abortion, personal liberty, due process, twentieth century, Norma McCorvey, society, Texas, pregnancy, her choice, nineteenth century, judicial activism, American Society, public policy, privacy, american politics, single woman, health and safety, New York, Chief Justice Burger, class action lawsuit, Cardinal Terence Cooke, abridgment, American Medical Association, Sarah Weddington, unplanned pregnancy, the final decision, unwanted pregnancy, illegal drugs, Harry Blackmun, controversial issue, new laws, socioeconomic status, Dred Scott, A mother, the courts, closing argument, oral arguments, female sexuality, married couples, compelling interest, state law,