The idea of a government forcing its will on women by mandating they carry a child to full term against their wish is against the conception of decency and compassion. It is also against the concepts set forth by the U.S. Constitution. A country dedicated to and founded on principles of civil liberty should not be accountable for one of its people performing a potentially hazardous medical procedure on their body. This practice was commonplace prior to 1973 when abortions were legalized by the U.S. Supreme court in the Roe vs. Wade decision.
Before this historic decision, many women who attempted this dangerous procedure mutilated or killed themselves while wealthy women have always been able to have safe abortions performed. Outlawing abortions only restrict poor and middle-income women from having the procedure performed safely. In this respect, the paper aims at identifying reasons why abortions should be legal.
Persons opposed to abortion are generally in the same ideological faction that opposes government programs that help poor and abused children, many of which the result of unwanted pregnancies. The hypocrisy of this group is clear. Their position is based on ‘family values’ and ‘Christian ethics’ but the end result is the loss of autonomy, increases instances of injury and state-sponsored discrimination against poor women. The emotion-charged argument is usually divided along conceptions of morality, on both sides. However, it is a legal issue and a matter for the Supreme Court, not the pulpit.
The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 dissolved any state law that restricted abortions in the first or second trimester. (“Roe v. Wade” 312). The decision was correct from strictly a Constitutional basis but 37 years later the case remains highly contested. Opponents make their arguments on personal beliefs but that is irrelevant when examining the words of the Constitution.
Lawyers, scholars, judges, and lay-persons who denounce the high court’s decision should do so based only on a legal, constitutional basis grounds because that is the only argument that counts. The case opposed to the decision should speak only to the 9th Amendment which states “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” (“Bill of Rights”).
Simply because the Constitution does not specifically mention the word ‘abortion’ means nothing when discussing the issue because that often-used argument is specifically covered by the 9th Amendment which plainly supports the acknowledgment of not only abortion rights but all other personal rights outside of what is specifically stated in the Constitution. For those that claim individual states should decide the issue, the Constitution answers them as well.
Opponents may have a moral and ethical argument and question the Court’s interpretation of the law but they must admit the law has stood the test of time and many incarnations of political and religious philosophy of Justices on the Court since that decision was handed down (Dorf). Today, 37 years later, abortion can be considered a right in this country.
Fundamental liberties, such as abortion can now be considered, establish fundamental truths in the operation of a culture and country. For example, Court rulings that abolished institutionalized racial discrimination are today now widely accepted as a fundamental right. Abortion rights are not as universally thought of in this way however the majority of Americans do consider it a fundamental right.
To sum up, the Roe v. Wade case is likely the most known Supreme Court decision because it is still the most controversial. It was and will continue to be a case that evokes strong emotions based on legal and morals rationales. The Court’s decision was not a mistake based on legal reasons which are the only valid basis for debate of this issue. Abortion is safe today because it is not illegal but a conservative appointment or two on the Court could make it illegal in the future, a scenario that would have tragic consequences for thousands of middle income and poor young women.
- Dorf, Michael D. Was Roe v. Wade Rightly Decided? Will it be Overruled? CNN Law Center, 2003, www.cnn.com/2003/LAW/01/23/ctv.dorf.roevwade/index. Accessed 23 Apr. 2011.
- Roe v. Wade: 1973. Women’s Rights on Trial. 1st Ed. New York: Thompson Gale, 1997. December 7, 2010, www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/trials/roe. Accessed 10 May 2011.
- United States Constitution Bill of Rights. Cornell Law School. Legal Information Institute, 2006, www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/constitution.billofrights. Accessed 7 May 2011