Abortion Since Row V. Wade Essay, Research Paper
Abortion Since Row v. Wade
Abortion has quickly become the most powerful social issue in the United States since slavery . Abortion is a topic that is very controversial because it deals with the potential life of a human being. There have been many Supreme Court cases dealing with the abortion controversy, including the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that protected a woman s constitutional right to have an abortion. This case was the turning point for women, and almost all of the Supreme Court cases that would follow would reaffirm the decision reached in Row v. Wade.
In the year 1969, a woman named Norma McCorvy became pregnant after allegedly being raped. Norma, who would later adopt the pseudonym, “Jane Row” , wished to end her pregnancy by abortion; however, the Texas law outlawed abortions except for the instance when it would save the mother s life. In 1970, McCorvy filed a class action suit in the Federal District Court in Dallas. The district court ruled that the Texas law was unconstitutionally vague . The law infringed the woman s right to choose whether or not to have a child. Justice Blackmun drafted a new set of guidelines which clearly detailed when an abortion would be legal. 1) For the first trimester, the decision to have an abortion is held totally up to the woman and her doctor. 2) During the second trimester, the state may regulate the abortion, depending on the doctor s decision. 3) In the third trimester, the state may forbid the abortion in the interest of protecting potential life.
The rulings in the case Roe v. Wade immediately affected abortion laws in all fifty states . The case had a huge impact on the abortion controversy in the United States. Aside from giving women new rights, it opened the doors for more change in legislation. Roe v. Wade was not the end of the abortion law battle.
In 1976, two lawyers and two members of Planned Parenthood of central Missouri filed a suit against a Missouri law that placed certain restrictions on abortions. The laws challenged were as follows: 1) Parental consent on a minors abortion. 2) Husband s consent on a married woman s abortion. 3) The woman s written informed consent. 4) No second trimester abortions be done by saline amniocentesis. 5) The abortion providers must do certain record keeping and reporting . This case, Planned Parenthood v. Danforth, occurred because many people thought that these laws denied the woman s absolute right to have an abortion. Having third party consent should not be required for a woman to have an abortion.
In the final ruling, it was decided that parental and spousal consent were unconstitutional because it gave third parties a right to veto a woman s choice to have an abortion. The record keeping and the woman s certification were upheld, as was the use of saline amniocentesis, which was supposedly the safest method available . In this case, the court held firm to its stand in Roe v. Wade, that a woman s decision to have an abortion was secured under the Constitution.
In 1979, a Massachusetts law requiring third party consent was challenged in the case Bellotti v. Baird. The law required unmarried minors to receive parental consent before receiving an abortion. If the parent refused, then the minor could then seek alternative consent from a state judge for “good cause shown” .
In the judge s decisions, the law was found to be unconstitutional. All minors must be given permission to have an abortion, regardless of anyone s view if it s in her best interest . Like the case of Panned Parenthood v. Danforth, the law stood firmly on the ground that no third party could veto a minor s right to end her pregnancy.
The case Colautti v. Franklin dealt with a slightly different aspect of the abortion controversy. In most of the abortion cases so far, the people challenging the laws have been woman having abortions. Franklin, however, was a doctor during the time who felt that the Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act put him in an unfair position. The law required that a doctor performing an abortion choose the procedure most likely to save the life of a fetus if it might be viable. The law stated that any doctor who did not attempt to save a viable fetus could be subject to criminal charges .
On January 9th, 1979, the Supreme Court voted six to three to invalidate the Pennsylvania law . The majority found that the law s requirement to determine whether a fetus is viable to be unconstitutional. It was decided that the word “viable” is far too vague to begin with .
In 1980, the Hyde Amendment was challenged in the case Harris v. McRae. This law stated that no Medicaid funds would be granted to perform an abortion unless the woman s life was in danger. The court denied the challenge, standing firmly on the belief that neither the federal nor the state government had any obligation to provide funding for an abortion, whether the abortion was elective or medically necessary . Justice Potter Stewart said, “The key distinction between abortion and other medical procedures is that abortion is the purposeful termination of a potential human life.”
With the new enactment of the Hyde Amendment, the number of federally funded abortions dropped from 300,000 to under 2,500 per year . Since this case, there have been relatively few challenges to reverse the Medicaid policy. In fact, to this day, the Hyde Amendment remains virtually the same .
In the case of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (1983), three abortion clinics challenged the city of Akron s new abortion code. This code required that: 1) A woman wait 24 hours between consenting to, and receiving an abortion. 2) All abortions after the first trimester must be performed in a full service hospital. 3) Minors under fifteen must have parental or judicial consent to have an abortion. 4) The attending physician must give the woman information relevant to informed consent . On June 15, 1983, the Supreme Court decided that all of the restrictions listed above were unconstitutional .
This case had a huge affect on abortion. It immediately affected twenty-one other states into changing their regulation of second semester abortions only in hospitals . This was a huge victory for people in favor of pro-choice.
In 1986, a decision was reached in the case of Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. In this case, a number of Pennsylvania laws were challenged, most of them were part of The Abortion Control Act. The act imposed detailed regulations on the actual abortion procedure. The regulations that were challenged are as follows: 1) Doctors provide women seeking an abortion with extensive information about risks and alternatives to ensure their consent was well thought out. 2) Doctors file detailed reports on all abortions to the state, open to public inspection. 3) Women wait twenty-four hours between giving consent and having the abortion. 4) Minors attain the consent of their parents or a state judge. 5) All second trimester abortions be done in a hospital. 6) Two doctors be present in abortions being performed during later period of pregnancy .
In this case, all six of the restrictions listed above were struck down . All of which were said to be invalid or unconstitutional. The court reaffirmed the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade by making the choice to have an abortion a constitutionally protected right.
In 1986, Missouri passed a strict abortion law that angered many citizens. In 1989, the law was challenged in the case, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The laws that were being challenged stated that: 1) Life begins at conception. 2) Public funds may not be used for abortion counseling. 3) Physicians are required to check after twenty weeks into the pregnancy to see if fetus is viable. The court, by a five to four vote, upheld the provisions of the Missouri law .
The Webster case drew a lot of public attention and triggered the possibility that the Court would reconsider its decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion . The surrounding controversy made this case the most interesting abortion case since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
As the passionate hatred towards abortion started to grow, a trend of staging protests outside of abortion clinics began to rise. Pro-Life supporters picketed outside buildings, hassling women as they entered and exited buildings.
There have been many Supreme Court cases that challenge the legality of the protesting, one being Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York.
In this case, Schenck challenged three major elements of the New York law that set restrictions on abortion clinic protests. The laws being challenged stated that: 1) There is a “fixed buffer zone” prohibiting all protesting within fifteen feet of the building. 2) There is a “floating buffer zone” prohibiting all protesting activity within fifteen feet of any person or vehicle entering or leaving the clinics. 3) There may be no more than two “sidewalk counselors” . Basically, sidewalk counselors preached pro-life views to those who were considering or having an abortion.
The court upheld the “fixed buffer zone” and the sidewalk counseling aspects of the law, however the floating buffer zone was struck down as unconstitutional . There have been several other Supreme Court cases dealing with abortion protesting and buffer zones. In 1994, three anti-abortion protesters challenged a “buffer zone” law in the case Madsen v. Women s Health Center. There was a case similar to this in 2000 known as Hill v. Colorado.
Abortion has surely become a very sensitive issue in our world today. Just in the past few decades, there have been numerous Supreme Court rulings and new legislation concerning the issue. It began in 1973 with the decision in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the absolute right to have an abortion. Since that major breakthrough, women have realized greater freedom and it has become less burdensome for women to have an abortion. Although the abortion controversy has come a long way since the early 70 s, it is no where near reaching its end. Because abortion deals with the potential lives of human beings, there will always be controversy surrounding it.