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Roe v. Wade - Essay Example

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This essay declares that the Roe v. Wade case, brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, resulted in the Court’s determination that women have the constitutional right to have an abortion prior to when the fetus is viable, meaning when it can survive on its own outside the woman’s womb…
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Roe v. Wade
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Michael Dorf, in an article for CNN.com outlined the constitutional justification for the legalization of abortion.
The Roe v. Wade case, brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, resulted in the Court’s determination that women have the constitutional right to have an abortion prior to when the fetus is viable, meaning when it can survive on its own outside the woman’s womb. Though the case was and remains controversial, the Court’s decision was correct from a constitutional context. Critics of the decision have generally made arguments based on personal moral beliefs which are irrelevant when the language of the Constitution is examined. Their moral arguments against the Roe decision can be quickly invalidated by weighing the precedents of Constitutional decisions reached by the Supreme Court in addition to reading the specific wordage contained in the Constitution.
When most people speak disapprovingly of the Roe decision, they base their objections purely on moral grounds; but scholars, lawyers and especially judges who condemn the decision should only do so based on constitutional grounds in addition to voicing their moral objections. The argument against the decision should address the 9th Amendment which states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” Those opposed have said that the ninth, or any other amendment, does not specifically mention abortion therefore the Constitution is not applicable when attempting to determine the legality of abortion rights. This opinion, however, very obviously contradicts the short and to the point statement that is the Ninth Amendment which clearly encourages the recognition of abortion and all other rights over and above what is contained in the Constitution. Just because the word ‘abortion’ does not appear, the Constitution is still the origin for legal precedence for this issue as it is for all other civil rights cases.
Those that criticize the Roe decision have complained that the nation’s founders used general terms to frame the Constitution and did not intend for the ambiguous use of the word ‘rights’ to include the right to an abortion. They further propose that those who ratified the Constitution were ‘God fearing’ men who would have opposed the practice. Even if this argument could be proved valid on a constitutional basis, the inference that the Founders were wholly opposed to the practice is probably inaccurate. A good deal of Justice Blackmun’s opinion regarding the Roe case was centered around the fact that prior to the latter part of the 1800’s, first trimester abortions were commonly allowable in the U.S. The argument does take on some validity when considering that those that who ratified the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments considered Constitutionally-protected equal rights to be harmonious with the discrimination of women and the segregation of the races. Both of these practices have however been justifiably condemned by authorization of the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Though the constitutionality regarding the Roe decision can be easily argued, it must be acknowledged that since the issue remains intensely controversial more than 30 years after, opponents may be justified in believing the right to an abortion should not be thought of as fundamental. Fundamental rights reprove basic truths in the functioning of a society. Rulings preventing the segregation of the races are now accepted by the public therefore can be viewed as fundamental rights. Abortion rights do not enjoy this universally held view so it is fair to debate the issue even on legal grounds though that is seldom the arena for debate. It is understood, however, that the majority of Americans do agree with the Court’s decision and believe it to be a fundamental right.
Works Cited
Dorf, Michael D. “Was Roe v. Wade Rightly Decided? Will it be Overruled?” CNN Law Center. (January 23, 2003). December 1, 2006 Read More
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