|Type of paper:||Essay|
|Categories:||Court system Abortion Social justice Human rights Civil rights|
Over the past decades, the Supreme Court of the U.S has been making landmark rulings on the Bill of Rights that included Right to Privacy yet 'privacy' is a broad, abstract and ambiguous concept" that is not found anywhere in the Bill of Rights (Forsythe, Clarke & Presser). Ideally, the mere aspect of labeling the Bill of Rights "private" and contrast it with "public" shows no sense of privacy in itself. When emphasizing civil liberty and individual autonomy, the presence of a realm of both private property and conduct is not attainable if it seeks to facilitate the intellectual, moral and personal wellbeing of an individual (Cooper & Bradley).
According to the ruling involving the Bill of Rights that was made by Justices Burger, Douglas, Brennan and Stuart of the Supreme Court in the Roe vs. Wade case, it was determined that pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment, a woman's right to an abortion falls within the right to privacy. In this paper, therefore, we seek to discuss the reasoning of the Supreme Court in the Roe vs. Wade case involving the right to privacy, explaining certain "activist" decision in regard to the facts of the ruling.
In 1969, Norma McCorvery, a 22-year-old unmarried Texan was seeking to abort her unborn child. However, by the time the Texas law on abortion was illegal, unless it was "for the purpose of saving the life of the mother." Given this scenario, McCorvey eventually sought the attorney of Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington who were in search of a plaintiff to help them challenge the Texan law on abortion. On the advice of her Attorneys, McCorvey changed her name to Jane Roe and filed a lawsuit against the Dallas Country in respect to her wish to end the unwanted pregnancy (Farrell & Margaret).
Upon presenting the case to Henry Wade, the criminal enforcing officer in charge at the Dallas County district, the law suit succeeded in convincing the official to overturn the law, however they were not issued with an injunction for Jane Roe to proceed with ending the unwanted pregnancy. In its ruling, the suit said that the anti-abortion statute was unconstitutionally vague because it was an invasion of Roe's right to privacy under the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments (Cooper & Bradley).
The case was taken to the Supreme Court for appeal, along with another similar Georgian case known as Doe v. Bolton and upon review, the Supreme Court agreed to hear them. The case filing was presented on March 3, 1970, when the plaintiff (Roe) was six months pregnant. However, Roe eventually delivered the child before the hearing, but proceeded with the case in her quest to support other women's right (Adams).
The plaintiff Jane Roe through her lead attorney Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington argued the case on the grounds that the anti-abortion statute was unconstitutionally vague because it was an invasion of women right to privacy and that it greatly violated the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S Constitution. Based on the Fourteenth Amendment, the Due Process Clause guarantees equal protection of all Americans and required given that laws be coherently written.
Consequently, Roe prepared her case based primarily on the protection of the legal right of the fetus. As opposed to previous similar cases that sought to challenge abortion law, the Roe case was quite specific on the life of the woman which was being threatened by pregnancy and childbirth. However, Roe's attorneys wanted a decision that rested on the right of a pregnant woman and render herself the decision to either abort the child or not, but not primarily limited with the provision of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment. Does, Roe's attorneys argued that a woman has the right to terminate her pregnancy and it will therefore be improper for the State to impose decisions on her marital, sexual, familial or any other right to privacy (Lee & Howell).
The ruling was handed down on January 22, 1973 by the Supreme Court, holding that a woman's right to an abortion falls within the right to privacy as protection by the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments; giving a woman an autonomy to end unwanted pregnancy in the first trimester. However, in the second and third trimesters, the ruling further defined different levels of state interest that it could regulate the abortion.
The handing of women an autonomy to end unwanted pregnancy gives no legal "right to life" to the developing infant in the womb of a woman. This was a ruling to give women the right to privacy in the sense that abortion should be treated merely as a medical condition leaving the medical judgement to the woman who has the right to either keep the child or abort. This argument was therefore in the best interest of the woman in regard to her right to privacy but not as earlier protected under the Fourteenth Amendment. From the activist point of view, decision was made on the grounds that the anti-abortion statute was unconstitutionally vague because it was an invasion of women right to privacy and that it greatly violated the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S Constitution.
Adams, Andrew A. "Aborting Roe: Jane Roe Questions the Viability of Roe v. Wade." Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 9 (2004): 325.
Cooper, Bradley Aron. "The Definition of Person: Applying the Case Decision to Roe v. Wade." Regent UL Rev. 19 (2006): 235.
Farrell, Margaret G. "Revisiting Roe v. Wade: Substance and Process in the Abortion Debate." Ind. LJ 68 (1992): 269.
Forsythe, Clarke D., and Stephen B. Presser. "The Tragic Failure of Roe v. Wade: Why Abortion Should Be Returned to the States." Tex. Rev. L. & Pol. 10 (2005): 85.
Lee, Nancy Howell. The Search for an Abortionist: The Classic Study of How American Women Coped with Unwanted Pregnancy before Roe v. Wade. Vol. 2. Open Road Media, 2014.
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