Supre Court Abortion Decisions Essay, Research Paper
Supreme Court Decisions That Greatly Impacted The Reproduction Rights Of Women
When talking about Supreme Court decisions that have greatly impacted the lives of women it is very hard to settle on just five of the many cases that have been ruled in favor of the rights of women. When discussing the topic of reproductive freedom and The Supreme Courts rulings on these matters ten cases can and must be discussed in order to provide a total overview and timeline of these historic rulings. The American Civil Liberties Union has helped women breech the barriers of sexual repression, and has crusaded to help women win these reproductive rights and knowledge over the years since its founding in the repressed 1920?s. In the decades following 1920 the ACLU has had an important role in influencing The Supreme Court into handing down decisions that led to the right of contraception, rights to abortion, the right to bear children, and the publication of materials valuable in understanding human sexuality. All of these Supreme Court rulings discussed lead to the valuable sexual and reproductive freedom we are experiencing in today?s society. We should be thankful and take a bow to the crusades of women?s rights groups such as the ACLU and their influences on The Supreme Court, and thus our daily and social ties to society.
The first case I want to discuss involving the reproductive rights of women is Griswold v Connecticut. In this landmark case the Supreme Court struck down a state prohibition against the prescription, sale, or use of contraceptives, even for married couples. In this case , the Court held that the Constitution guarantee?s a ?right to privacy? when individuals make decisions about intimate, personal matters such as childbearing. In my opinion this case is very important because it gives an option or a choice to a very important issue. Without this right to choose single or married women would be placed in unwanted positions. These positions being a high incidence of pregnancy (without contraceptives and the choice to use them) and the stress and repercussions that would follow without the ability for them to make this a personal choice.
Another major case I want to discuss decided by the Supreme Court was in 1971. The United States v Vuitch was the first case about abortion to reach The Supreme Court. In United States v. Vuitch, a doctor challenged the constitutionality of a District of Columbia law permitting abortion only to preserve a womans life or health. The court rejected the claim that the statute was unconstitutionality vague, concluding that ?health? should be understood to include considerations of psychological as well as physical well-being. The court also held that the burden of proof should be on the prosecutor who brought charges, not on the doctor. This case is very inportant in that it lead to the Roe v Wade decision in coming years.
Eisenstadt v Baird gave the right of unmarried couples to obtain contraceptives. This struck down a Massachusetts law limiting contraceptives to married couples. This case again involves the issue of choice. Why shouldn?t we as Americans be given a choice in all matters? Even if it is the issue of birth control or even the larger issue of abortion. I myself do not agree with the notion of abortion, however I do believe with the idea of the right to choose. This is a case that gave men not only women the right to choose for the sake of reproductive freedom.
The most important of all of these reproductive cases is the one that occurred in 1973. Roe v Wade challenged a Texas law prohibiting all but lifesaving abortions. The Supreme Court invalidated the law on the ground that the constitutional right to privacy holds the right of a woman?s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy .This law was viewed by the court as being fundamental to a woman?s life and future, and even her pursuit of happiness. The court ruled that the state could not interfere with the abortion decision of a woman unless it had compelling reason for regulation. The only right the fetus now had was when it became viable, usually at the beginning of the last trimester of pregnancy. And even at this stage the woman now had the right to abortion if it were necessary to preserve her life or health.
The Supreme Court also heard the case of Doe v Bolton in which the Supreme Court overturned a Georgia law regulating abortion. The law prohibited abortions except when necessary to preserve a woman?s life or health or in instances of abnormalities or rape. The law also required that all abortions be performed in accredited hospitals and that a hospital committee and two doctors including the woman?s own doctor give approval. The Court found this Georgia law unconstitutional because it imposed too many restrictions and interfered with a woman?s right to choose the termination of her pregnancy. As well as Roe v Wade this case gave the woman the rights she deserved under the constitution of the United States- the right to choose, and choosing on the topic of reproduction is highly important because of the repercussions that it has on life and society.
Bigelow v Virginia was another important case concerning the issue of abortion. In this case the Supreme Court ruled that states could not ban advertising by abortion clinics. Such bans violate the First Amendments guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. This gave the woman the right to know, and explore her options in the matter of abortion.
In the landmark case of Bellotti v Baird the plaintiffs challenged a Massachusetts statute requiring women under the age of 18 to obtain parental or judicial consent prior to an abortion. The Supreme Court found this statute unconstitutional because it gave either the parent or a judge absolute veto power over a minors abortion decision, no matter how mature she was whether or not the abortion may be in her best interests. This case gave all minors the right to approach the court for authorization to have an abortion, without seeking the consent of their parents. These court proceeding must too be kept confidential and carried out quickly.
In 1980 another case Harris v McRae, The Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the Hyde Amendment, which banned the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion except when the woman would be endangered by carrying the pregnancy to term. Although this lawsuit was unsuccessful it lead in recent years to many states overturning funding bans for abortions. This gave lower class American women the right to choose without concern dealing with moneys. This gave all American social classes in recent years the ability to exercise their right to abortion.
In 1983 another case City of Akron v Akron Center for Reproductive health scored an important victory, when the Supreme Court struck down all of the challenged provisions of an Akron Ohio, ordinance restricting abortion .Under another ruling the court ruled the city could not require minors under the age of 15 to obtain parental or judicial consent for an abortion, require physicians to give women information designed to persuade them from having abortions, impose a 24 hour waiting period after the signing of the consent form, or require second trimester pregnancies be performed in a hospital. This case in being related to Bellotti v Baird gave the women the right to choice disregarding age social stutus and background. An important right in the freedom of choice for women.
In a more recent case in 1997 Schenck v Pro-Choice Network of Western New York, abortion clinics got the right to hold a 15-foot buffer zone around people or vehichles leaving or entering the clinics. This gave the female the right to go into an abortion clinic and exercise her right to get an abortion, without the threat or worry from protestors.
All of these Supreme Court ruling?s were important in shaping the reproductive rights of women from the mid-1960?s to present day. Roe v Wade is still the single most important reproductive case for women to date, but as you can see with the other cases it is not the only significant one. All of these 10 cases have helped to shape the reproductive freedom that our society enjoys today, and it is our women?s rights to exercise these laws because we are Americans.