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Research paper topic: Roe Vs Wade: The Decision And Its Impact On American Society - 1003 words
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.. cy" (Craig and OBrien 17). Jay Floyd, the assistant attorney general of Texas, next presented his case against the legalization of abortion. Weddington had argued that many women had no other choice besides abortion because of their socioeconomic status. However, Floyd contended that despite external factors, each person had free autonomy.
"Now I think she makes her choice prior to the time she becomes pregnant. That is the time of her choice. Its like, more or less, the first three or four years of our life we dont remember anything. But once a child is born, a woman no longer has a choice, and I think pregnancy then determines that choice" (Craig and OBrien 17). Thus, Floyd contended, the fourteenth amendment was not violated since pregnancy was based on free will, and liberty was not denied. If pregnancy was a deliberate choice on the womans part, then abortion was not warranted.
Another crucial aspect of the Roe vs. Wade trial was the status of when a fetus is guaranteed constitutional rights. In response to Texas harsh abortion restrictions, Floyd explained that Texas "recognized the humanness of the embryo, or the fetus" and had "a compelling interest because of the protection of fetal life" (Craig and OBrien 17). However, there were several flaws with this statement in the court. First, the topic of the Court was not the constitutional rights of embryos, but whether abortion violated a persons right to liberty.
Second, no state law or court decision had equated abortion with murder. Thus, Floyds contention amounted to a mere personal opinion, with no bearing on the case. The Court needed to uphold the constitutional rights of the woman before protecting the "rights" of the unborn fetus. The fourteenth amendment applies only "to all persons born or naturalized in the United States," and if the Court guaranteed the fourteenth amendment to unborn children, it would be an extreme case of judicial activism (Craig and OBrien 20). After two years listening to arguments, the Supreme Court finally made its decision.
The right to privacy and liberty was broad enough to encompass a womans decision for abortion. The fourteenth amendment guaranteed personal liberty, which includes a womans body and unborn fetus. Although the Court established the legality of abortion, they left the responsibility of implementation to the states. Like Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, a general decision on constitutionality needed to be interpreted and implemented by local governments. "Where certain fundamental rights are involved, the Court has held that regulation limiting these rights may be justified only by a compelling state interest, and that legislative enactments must be narrowly drawn to express only the legitimate state interests at stake" (Craig and OBrien 27). Although the court did not provide any specific methods of implementation, it did set broad guidelines regarding the stage of the fetus. A mother had the sole choice to abort the child in the first trimester, but limitations on abortion were allowed in the second and third trimesters if the right to liberty and privacy of the mother was still preserved.
The initial reactions to the Roe vs. Wade decision were intense and extreme, as abortion remains to be an extremely controversial issue. The president of Planned Parenthood hailed the decision as "a wise and courageous stroke for the right of privacy, and for the protection of a womans physical and emotional health" (Craig and OBrien 32). However, there were as many supporters of the decision as dissidents. Cardinal Terence Cooke attacked the Justices, claiming that "whatever their legal rationale, seven men have made a tragic utilitarian judgment regarding who shall live and who shall die" (Craig and OBrien 32).
Roe vs. Wade elevated the abortion issue to the national spectrum, becoming a source of political and social struggle in the years to come. On the tenth anniversary of the decision, The Washington Post illustrated its effect on society. "[Roe vs. Wade] has drastically changed the Courts image, fostered wholesale attack on judicial activism and mobilized thousands of supporters and opponents of legalized abortion in a debate that has reshaped the political terrain in many states and, at times, has virtually halted the work of Congress.
Few court decisions have had a more immediate impact on such a personal aspect of American life" (Craig and OBrien 35). The Roe vs. Wade decision has affected all aspects of society, from the role of the Supreme Court to the human status of an unborn fetus. Many scholars refer to the case as the "Dred Scott" of the twentieth century. The decision sparked a national discussion on judicial activism, and the role the Supreme Court has on public policy.
No other case like Roe vs. Wade had had such a direct impact on public law. Furthermore, the case drew an imaginary line, diving the country into either the pro-life or pro-choice category. Almost immediately after the decision, a multitude of pro-life and pro-choice groups were formed, and abortion has remained a pressing political, social, and moral issue. No other subject has resonated such disparity and importance in American politics.
Finally, the Roe vs. Wade decision is considered a representation of the changing society during the 1970s. In the past, abortion was highly restricted and opposed, mimicking the conservative society. However, as the 1970s marked a rise in liberalism and the importance of individual freedom, the Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion mirrored this willingness to embrace a persons autonomy.
Roe vs. Wade marked a dramatic change in government, politics, and society. Bibliography Works Cited Craig, Barbara Hinkson and David M. OBrien. Abortion and American Politics. Chatham, New Jersey: Chatham House Publishers, 1993. Hickok, Eugene W.
Justice vs. Law: Courts and Politics in American Society. New York: Free Press/Macmillan, 1993. Joffe, Carole. Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v.
Wade. Boston: Beacon Press, 1995. Olasky, Marvin. Abortion Rites: A Social History of Abortion in America. Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, 1992.
Rubin, Eva R. Abortion, Politics, and the Courts: Roe v. Wade and its Aftermath. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.
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