Is the Right to Abortion Unconstitutional?
Thomas Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence concerning inalienable rights and the infamous case of Roe versus Wade have been the subject of debate for many years. Supporters of women’s right to choose abortion state that it is unconstitutional for women to not be able to decide on whether or not they want to terminate a pregnancy, while those that oppose abortion believe that ending the life of a fetus takes away the fetus’ constitutional rights. Whichever side you support can depend on your interpretation of Thomas Jefferson’s words, religious beliefs, and life experiences. Women should be able to decide whether or not to terminate a pregnancy based on how it can affect her quality of life, as a fetus that is not viable outside the womb has less rights and quality of life to consider. To support women’s rights to abortion, you must understand the hierarchy of inalienable rights, the impact on both the mother and the fetus, and what is meant by “person” in the Fourteenth Amendment. Inalienable rights are those rights that every human being is entitled to that cannot be taken away by the Congress, a court, or a President. Also, a person cannot legally surrender one of these rights. In terms of inalienable rights, there is conflict on the subject of abortion. While both the mother and the fetus have inalienable rights, which right outweighs the other? David Stevens has referred to this as the Hierarchy of Inalienable Rights. Does the woman’s “right to choose” (her liberty right) trump the fetus’ right to be born (right to life)? (Stevens) A woman’s reproductive right is part of her liberty rights. She has the right to consider how bringing a human being into the world would affect her life. No matter what her reasons may be for deciding it is not the best time to have a child, it is her right to liberty to choose. The law cannot force you to support another life, be it a fetus, or someone else, without taking away your inalienable rights. Judith Thomson explains this best: “You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist, a famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. The director of the hospital now tells you, ‘Look, we're sorry the Society of Music Lovers did this to you—we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the violinist now is plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it's only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.’ Is it morally incumbent on you to accede to this situation? No doubt it would be nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accede to it? (Thomson)” One may argue that the more basic right trumps the less basic right. You have to have life in order to enjoy liberty, making life the more basic right. (Stevens) In this argument, the fetus has more right than the mother, because of his or her right to life. The reason that the fetus has rights is because it is a person from the time of conception, and killing a person is wrong. The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would have otherwise constituted one’s future. Therefore, killing someone is wrong, primarily because the killing inflicts (one of) the greatest possible losses on a victim (Marquis). It is impossible to force a woman to continue to carry a fetus against her will without taking away her inalienable rights. While some may see that the fetus from conception has...
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