Abortion

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Before delving deeper into the history or current debates over an issue like abortion, it is important to look simply at the fact of its existence in the United States. According to studies released in 2005 by the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health (PRCH) and The Guttmacher Institute, there were 1.29 million abortions performed in this country. Research by the same group shows that in 1994, approximately half of all pregnancies in the United States were unintended, with only about half of those actually ending in abortion. In comparison to other countries, the U.S. accounted for three percent of worldwide abortions in 1995 (PRCH and Guttmacher). With that said, the political history of abortion has been a turbulent one, and the position that the Supreme Court in particular takes on abortion, obviously greatly influences the issue.  One could expect the Supreme Court to take a more liberal and “pro-choice” stance on the topic because since Roe v. Wade in 1973, court cases have been progressing towards a more definite right to choose.  This can be seen in the cases that followed; Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983), Webster v. Reproduction Health Services (1989), and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992).  Because the Supreme Court sets precedents about such important issues, their past decisions play a major role in deciding the right choice on the issue.  However, the decisions of the Supreme Court depend very heavily on the judges who currently hold positions as Supreme Court Justices.  A more liberal Supreme Court would strongly support the woman’s right to choose what she does with her body; whereas a Supreme Court with more conservative justices would be more inclined to oppose making decisions that would strengthen the precedent set in Roe v. Wade.  Thus, the Presidential appointment of Justices, leaves abortion as a hot topic for political candidates. A recent legal decision that affects the legality of abortion is the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004, created after the Laci Peterson case.  This act has made it so that a violent crime against a pregnant woman counts as two separate crimes; one against the woman herself and the other against the unborn child.  This has added to the controversial nature of the issue because it seems like a paradox to allow the fetus to be considered a person in criminal proceedings, yet allow abortion to be legal.  It is contradictory to provide a fetus rights as a human while still giving a woman the right to choose abortion.  Nevertheless, ever since the landmark Roe v. Wade, abortion law has continued to protect the woman’s right to choose.  Supreme Court cases have placed the woman’s right to choose under the right to privacy and therefore they have considered it protected by the US constitution.  Also, when Norma McCorvey (formerly known as Jane Roe) tried to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision in her 2005 Supreme Court Case,McCorvey v. Hill (2005), the Supreme Court denied the case thus supporting the statute that Roe v. Wade had created.  The precedent set in Roe v. Wade has served as a turning point for “pro-choice” and woman’s rights groups, and all other abortion cases have used the Roe v. Wade decision as a guideline for deciding later cases.  There is no doubt that there has been much debate about whether or not a woman’s right to choose should be protected under her right to privacy; however, based on historical decision and precedents set by the Supreme Court, abortions are legal and are left up to the discretion of the mother.  Also, the Partial-birth Abortion Act, which had deemed partial-birth abortions illegal, going against a previous Supreme Court ruling in Stenberg v. Carhart, was later deemed unconstitutional.  This further supports the belief that an abortion is a mother’s right to choose and a woman has the right to privacy in regards to the actions she takes with her own body. To fine tune the issue of...
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