Roe V. Wade: the Constitutional Right to Access Safe, Legal Abortion

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Should Roe v. Wade be overturned?

Abortion has always been a controversial issue. There are many different opinions and viewpoints on abortion concerning the ethical acceptability as well as the social policy aspects of abortion. In fact, before the decision made in the famous court case of Roe v. Wade, abortion was morally wrong and was constituted as a crime that could lead to a prison sentence of up to five years. In Roe v. Wade, many unsettled questions were avowed and discussed.

Roe vs Wade is a supreme court case from 1973 between Jane Roe and Henry Wade. Jane Roe was abiding in Texas at the time and wished to terminate her pregnancy. At the time this was outlawed by the state and abortions were only done under special circumstances. Roe argued that the Texas law violated the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

The Supreme Court agreed that a woman’s right to choose fell under the right to privacy in the Fourth Amendment and ruled in favor of Roe, making the Texas law unconstitutional. Roe v. Wade is an exceedingly controversial case about abortion, but the judges undoubtedly made the proper decision in allowing abortion to be up to the woman and her doctor in the first trimester of pregnancy. In the beginning of the 1900s, dozens of states in the U.S. began creating laws to limit abortions or make them completely illegal unless it was necessary to save the mother. The ninth amendment states that, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people” ( fourteenth and the most important in this case states in Section 1 that, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” (

It states in the decision of Roe v. Wade that, “The constitution does not define “person” in so many words” ( 18) The amendment discusses “person” 3 times in it, but it does not indicate that it has any possible pre-natal relevance; this is what made the abortion issue so hard. The state court ruled in favor of Roe, but the verdict was not strong enough to change the arrest of abortion doctors in Texas because the exact part that dealt with the right to privacy could not be decided.

New York became the only state whose abortion laws were liberal enough prior to Roe v. Wade that they were able to remain after the decision. Not to any surprise, thirty-one states were forced to abolish their laws outlawing abortion while eighteen other states had to rewrite their abortion laws. This decision completely altered the ways in which the United States viewed the abortion

Abortion was nothing new at this time, in fact abortions were being developed and performed as early as the sixteenth century. For many years, specifically before the 1800s, abortions were entirely legal throughout much of the United States but were often unsafe procedures (

Before Roe v Wade, women could only get abortions for medical reasons such as cancer, HIV, and many STD’s. The mothers' health isn’t the only reason a woman may have an abortion, often the woman or her doctor make be concerned about the child’s health. Unintended pregnancies often have low- birth weights, birth defects, maternal depression, increased risk of child abuse, delayed prenatal care, higher risk of physical violence during pregnancy. In a study by the NSFG (National Survey of Family Growth) and USDHHS (U.S Department of Health and human services) nearly half of pregnancies in 2006 were unintended. More than 4 out of 5 of those were of women 19 years or younger, women who had less education had more unintended pregnancies than those with higher education. Unintended pregnancies were highest of women with no college education. Women with a lower income had increased in unintended pregnancies, while more fortunate women had a decreased percentage.

Because of Roe vs Wade, women now have the option to terminate the pregnancy if they aren’t ready. Having a child is a serious matter and should only happen if both parents wish to bring a child into the world. If either knows the environment the child will grow up in isn’t going to be healthy then why would they birth the child? Pro-lifers will argue that every life is precious, but if that’s true shouldn’t every life be planned to where they’ll have the resources to succeed in life?

Most pro-life supporters argue that all life is precious and almost everyone would agree to that statement, but what is considered a life? According to the court ruling for Roe v. Wade, “the human fetus might be “viable” (“capable of meaningful life”) outside the mother’s womb after six months.” This says that the embryo isn’t considered a life yet. It does have the DNA structure of a human, but it cannot survive in the outside world. This means that since 1973 to now, a woman can get an abortion during the first and second trimester.

Another counterargument pro- life supporters believe in is that you don’t know if the person is going to grow up to be a person of significance. This is true because we do not have predetermined lives, or that we don’t know what is in store for our life, but you can always use the counter argument to that. Couldn’t the child grow up to be a bad person? We don’t know who the child will grow up to be so wouldn’t it be better to leave that choice to the mother? With all of this in mind, we should know that the only person who should have a say in whether or not the mother should have an abortion is the mother herself. If the mother doesn’t have that right to have an abortion or not, wouldn’t you be taking away their right over their body? Because they don’t have a say in whether or not a mother can or can’t have an abortion, would it eventually spread to other things and start taking away women’s rights? Didn’t we get out of those ages where women couldn’t vote, and people only saw women as mothers and housewives?

Another issue is the sexual education system in America. Did you know that only 22 states mandate sexual education? Only 13 of those require the information to be medically accurate ( shown by John Oliver, which is backed by the fact that before sexual education, that is approved by the Department of health and human services, is given to students is has to pass by parents, community advisors, and conservative teachers Who often change it..)

According to Lynn Barclay, the President and CEO of the American Sexual Health Association, and Debra Hauser, President of Advocates of Youth. America isn’t doing too hot in teaching teens about sexual education. As said by Barclay “We are doing such a poor job on many subjects, We are not doing comprehensive sexual education, we aren’t doing condom demonstrations. We aren’t teaching young people about consent….we are making them feel bad about their bodies.” The main issue with abstinence only sexual education is that it teaches teens to be ashamed of their bodies, and their sexuality. Those taught it, are often less willing to use condoms, and even have little knowledge of STD testing and pregnancy prevention. This is life saving information, that everyone holds a right to obtain.

Abstinence only education also contributes to slut shaming, and rape culture, It also victim blames, which promoting the phrase “boys will be boys” , which isn’t needed in a nation where 1 in 3 women will be raped in their lifetime. Here is an excerpt from “Heritage Keepers” a series of books intended for promoting abstinence until marriage. Pg. 46 “ ... Girls need to be careful with what they wear, because males are looking! The girl might be thinking fashion, while the boy is thinking sex. For this reason, girls have a responsibility to wear modest clothing that doesn’t invite lustful thoughts” This very clearly blames females for being raped, isn’t it shocking this was actually given to students? As most of us know sexual education is treated far differently than normal core classes, even drivers education is looked at as more important. Would you give your child, who has never taken driver's education, the keys to your car and tell them to drive to the store? You would want to wait until they are educated, and you’re sure that not only your child, but others would be safe.

So why is sexual education such a shameful thing to enforce? If you’re not properly educated you could be in a life changing or even life ending situations. In America there are 50 thousand new HIV infections, 20 million STI’s, 3 million unintended pregnancies, and 1 million rapes annually. This is a direct reflection of sexual education in America, According to Advocates to youth, condom availability in schools in fact doesn’t increase sexual activity among students, but does increase the usage of condoms from students who already are sexually active! Sexual education should also be LGBT inclusive, because if it isn’t obvious by now not everyone is having heterosexual sex. Over all, if we had better sexual education there wouldn’t be nearly as many unplanned pregnancies.

As you can tell there are many things that need to change in America, but women's right to choose is not one of them. America needs to each accurate sexual education, and fix the issues in the adoption system. If you’re against abortion, don’t have one. Dont shame someone has had one either, because just like every decision you make they had a reason.

I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that center on the sanctity of life. As a species we’ve fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don’t believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain and life-long poverty shows us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we’ve made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred.


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Roe v. Wade: The Constitutional Right to Access Safe, Legal Abortion. (2021, Mar 30). Retrieved May 18, 2024 , from

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