The case of Roe v. Wade in 1973 in the United States of America was ruled by the Supreme Court, a landmark ruling based on the constitutionality of laws that criminalized abortion (Ashlock 8). The majority’s judgment was written by Justice Blackmun, which acknowledged that the woman’s right to privacy secures the choice of a woman’s abortion. On the other hand, Justice Rehnquist and White dissented with different opinions (Higgins, Melissa, and Joseph 4).
The majority ruled that a woman’s right to choose whether she wants an abortion is linked to whether the woman is protected in the constitution by the right to privacy. According to Higgins, Melissa, and Joseph, the justice answered this question by proclaiming that the 14 th Amendment forbids the state from “depriving any person of liberty without due process of law” protected essential privacy rights (14). Moreover, after significant in-depth debate on the law’s historical absence of acknowledgment of the rights of the unborn child, the justice concluded that” the word “person,” as utilized in the 14th amendment, excludes the unborn child. It was concluded that the woman’s right to carry out an abortion purely falls within her fundamentally acknowledged privacy rights; hence, the constitution effectively protects her (Rafferty 41).
It’s vital to note that the court did not consider the woman’s right to abortion an absolute right. The court determined that the limit set by the state on the woman’s right to choose was subject to review with the highest standard, which would impose strict scrutiny. According to Ashlock, this level of assessment dictates that for the regulation to be enforced, it’s upon the government to show the regulation is customized to meet the state’s compelling interest (53) strictly. The justices acknowledged that the state’s interest in regulating and prohibiting abortion is legitimate.
According to Rafferty, the first compelling interest that the state has is the protection of the health of the pregnant mother and keeping her safe from the procedures of the abortions; secondly, the protection of the life of the unborn baby. Because this interest did not hold more water during the initial pregnancy phase, they tend to appear substantially compelling compared to the later stages (37). Establishing an equilibrium between the woman’s privacy rights and the state interest, the court came up with an outline that outweighs the government enabling regulation and forbidding abortion.
The outline indicates that, within the initial three months of the pregnancy, the woman’s privacy rights to carry out an abortion override the state’s interest in regulating the decision. (Higgins, Melissa, and Joseph 29) This is because abortion in the first trimester has less danger to the mother’s life and overall health; the fetus is still not fully developed during this period. Therefore the state interest is not compelling, and it cannot overweigh the woman’s right to privacy; therefore, regulating abortion at this stage is illegal or an infringement of the woman’s right to privacy (Higgins, Melissa, and Joseph 30). In the second trimester, this is where the interest of the state becomes more compelling and carries more weight than the woman’s right to privacy; this is because, at this stage, the woman is at more risk due to the complication she might face as well as the fetus is fully developed at this period. During this stage, abortion may be regulated and not prohibited by the state. The final trimester is when the state prohibits abortion, as their interest is most compelling at this level.
In the dissenting view, Justice Rehnquist stated that the intention of the drafters of the 14th amendment was not intended for the protection of privacy rights; this is because they did not acknowledge that right, and also, their intention was not to protect the decision of a woman to carry out an abortion. He further stated that the only privacy rights acknowledged are secured by the 14th amendment, which forbids unreasonable and inappropriate searches and seizures. He concluded that the decision was inappropriate because the issue required a balance of interest of both the state and the woman, and the question could have been better handled by the legislators (Cordova 33).
Ashlock, Eric E. *After Roe Vs. Wade: A Case Study of Abortion Law Dynamics in America, with Possible Implications for the State of California*. , 1991. Print.
Cordova, Jofelo T. *A Layman’s Dissenting Opinion: Roe Vs. Wade Abortion Decision*. San Jose, Ca: Myriad Enterprises, 1995. Print.
Higgins, Melissa, and Joseph W. Dellapenna. *Roe V. Wade: Abortion and a Woman’s Right to Privacy*. Minneapolis, MN: ABDO Pub, 2013. Print.
Rafferty, Philip A. *A Silver Bullet for Roe V Wade*. , 2015. Print.
With a student-centered approach, I create engaging and informative blog posts that tackle relevant topics for students. My content aims to equip students with the knowledge and tools they need to succeed academically and beyond.