Rowe vs Wade

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Roe vs. Wade:

"The Court today is correct in holding that the right asserted by Jane Roe is embraced within the personal liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is evident that the Texas abortion statute infringes that right directly. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a more complete abridgment of a constitutional freedom than that worked by the inflexible criminal statute now in force in Texas. The question then becomes whether the state interests advanced to justify this abridgment can survive the 'particularly careful scrutiny' that the Fourteenth Amendment here requires. The asserted state interests are protection of the health and safety of the pregnant woman, and protection of the potential future human life within her. But such legislation is not before us, and I think the Court today has thoroughly demonstrated that these state interests cannot constitutionally support the broad abridgment of personal liberty worked by the existing Texas law. Accordingly, I join the Court's opinion holding that that law is invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment" (Craig and O'Brien 17).

On January 22nd, 1973 Justice Harry Blackmun gave the decision of the Supreme Court in regards to the Roe vs. Wade case. A single pregnant woman, "Jane Roe," had filed a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal laws regarding abortion, which stated having or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the reason of saving the mother's life. Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff's legal name, was young and recently divorced at the time, searching for a way to resolve her unplanned pregnancy. "No legitimate doctor in Texas would touch me," stated McCorvey. "There I was - pregnant, unmarried, unemployed, alone and stuck" (Craig and O'Brien 5). The plaintiff's argument was that prohibiting abortion at any time before the actual birth of the child violated a woman's constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court eventually agreed with Mrs. McCorvey, finding it justifiable that abortion under the fourteenth amendment was legal. A person's right to privacy had to now extend to the extent of choosing to have an abortion. Although the Court did not discuss the issue of when life actually begins, abortion became legal under this landmark Supreme Court decision. The debate over whether abortion should be legal had taken place in America for several decades, and the final decision rendered by Roe vs. Wade resonated through all of America, influencing society even to this date.

Until inside the last half of the nineteenth century, when it was criminalized on a state by state basis across America, abortion was legal before approximately the fourth month of pregnancy. In early colonial medical guides there were recipes for instigating abortions with plants and herbs that could be grown in one's garden or easily procured in the woods. By the middle of the eighteenth century, commercial items were widely available that served the same purpose. Unfortunately, these drugs happened to be often fatal. The first statutes regulating acquiring an abortion, passed in the 1820s and 1830s, were actually laws for poison control: selling of commercial abortion agents was outlawed, but abortion itself was not. Despite these newly appointed laws, the business of abortion was booming by the 1840's, this included the sale of illegal drugs, which were advertised very widely in the popular press.

However, this trend would change. Following the 1840's, abortion was under attack, and a string of anti-abortion laws would be put in place until the twentieth century. The pushing force behind this criminalization of abortion was doctors and the American Medical Association. The AMA was founded in 1847, and the elimination of abortion was one of its top priorities. To the growing movement, "abortion was both an immoral act and a medically dangerous one, given the incompetence of...
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