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Roe vs. Wade Roe vs. Wade was a very controversial issue for its time, and today. Roe vs. Wade was a landmark case for womens rights. Roes case required states to allow women to have an abortion during the first six months of pregnancy.
This allowed women a choice if they would like to keep a child. Roe vs. Wade was so controversial because it dealt with the topic of abortion. To many people abortion is killing an unborn child, or child. Abortion is more than a political issue it is also a moral issue. Is it right to abort a fetus or baby? Roe, an unmarried, pregnant woman from Texas wanted an abortion, but an existing statute prevented her from doing so.
The Texas statute, originally passed in 1857, outlawed abortions except to save the life of the life of the mother. Roe filed a lawsuit in the federal district court on behalf of herself and all other pregnant women. Roe wanted to have an abortion statute declared because the 1857 statute passed in Texas was unconstitutional. Roe stated it was an invasion of her right to privacy guaranteed by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. At the same time Roe sought an injunction, or court order, issue against the statutes enforcement so that she might go forward with the abortion. The district courts agreed with Roe that the law was unconstitutionally vague and violated her right privacy under the Ninth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment.
The Ninth Amendment allows for the existence of the rights, like that of privacy grant the injunction allowing her to go ahead with the abortion. Roe then appealed the denial to the injunction to the United States Supreme Court. Around that same time a woman named Mary Doe sought an abortion but a 1968 Georgia statute, only allowing abortion if necessary to save the life of the mother, in the case of pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or if the baby was likely to be born with defects. The statute also created procedural requirements that effectively would have allowed few abortion. Those requirements included hospital accreditation, committee approval, two doctor agreement, and state residency. doe sought an abortion at the Grady Memorial Hospital, in Atlanta,Georgia. Doe claimed that she had been advised that her pregnancy would endanger her health, but the Abortion Rights Committee denied her the abortion. Doe sought a Declamatory Judgment stating the Georgia law unconstitutionally violated her right to privacy as well as her Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of due process and equal protection.
Just Roe, Doe sought out an injunction against the laws enforcement. In the Griswold v. Connecticut case Dr. Griswold was suing the state of Connecticut because he had been arrested for breaking that state law that made it a crime for any person to use contraceptives to prevent a pregnancy. Dr. Griswold and some colleagues were counseling a married couple who did not wish to have children. They discussed birth control issues, and in some cases Dr. Griswold made contraceptives directly available to the couple.
The state arrested Griswold under the current contraceptive law and after his release he consulted lawyers and decided that he would sue the state saying that the law was violating the constitutional rights of privacy which were implied in the Constitution. The state finally found in favor of Dr. Griswold saying that the law was a violation of the implied right of privacy through the fourteenth amendment. The courts knew that their decision would have a major impact on American government. Blackmun stated in his decision that "This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action ... or in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy," (Roe 1998).
The court's decision changed the laws of 46 states. California, New York, Colorado, and North Carolina already allowed abortions. It was legal for women to travel to these states to have abortion, but it was not reasonable or practical. As in the case of Jane Roe, or Norma McCorvey, she could not afford to travel to one of the four states to have her abortion. Abortion was a costly procedure in itself, and expecting women to travel to these states was impractical. Under the final Roe decision, only a compelling reason will allow any government, including state governments, to interfere with the exercise of the right to have the abortion in any state, not restricted to the state in which you live, although that has been argued recently. The decision was outlined as follows: Government may not interfere with a woman's decision to terminate a pregnancy in any way during the first third or trimester of pregnancy, except to insist that it be performed by a licensed physician.
In the second trimester, government has the power to regulate abortion only in ways designed to preserve and protect the woman's health. At the beginning of the final third of a fetus' gestation, protection of fetal life becomes a compelling reason sufficient under Roe to justify interference with the exercise of the right to choose abortion. At that point, the government can regulate or prohibit abortion in order to protect fetal life unless the abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the woman (Tribe 192). Since the Roe v. Wade case made abortions legal in the first trimester in all states there have been more than 32 million abortions in the United States and more than 1.5 million are killed each year. The main question that people are asking is whether or not this is murder (Henshaw 101).
At this point in the argument, science and political government combine. In order to make the decision as to whether the unborn child itself has rights, the court had to look at the actual stages of life after fertilization. If the court had ruled that the unborn baby was already a person with equal rights under the Constitution, then the Roe v. Wade decision would not have been made as we have it now. The courts had several doctors define when life started, and there was scientific evidence to support both arguments according to the doctors who testified. To give an idea of what the court was presented with to then form their own decision as to when life begins, I will briefly describe the phases of life after fertilization to more understand when life actually begins, which is a personal decision because there has been no proof presented and accepted in a court situation, especially in the Roe v.
Wade case. At the moment of fertilization all characteristics of each person are already determined such as sex, eye color, hair color, intelligence or any birth defects. The baby already has its own 46 human chromosomes which determine the genetic code. Within one week of fertilization the baby is implanted inside the mother's uterus and life begins to nourish and support itself from the inside out (Lejeune 8). At three weeks the baby's heart began to beat and pump blood. At six weeks brain waves can be measured coming from the fetus.
This is the biggest argument against abortion because in medicine the end of life is defined as the end of all brain waves in the human being. Once a fully grown person has no brain waves they are considered technically dead and other's are asked to make all the decision concerning the life of the person. Why then is the fetus not a person if brain waves can be measured from it? (Hamlin 113). At seven weeks the baby swims freely in the amniotic sac, and even though the mother wont begin to feel it until about four and a half months into the pregnancy, it is swimming freely. As early as eight weeks scientists have seen babies swallowing the amniotic fluid, showing that they are taking some form of life support into their own hands (Liley 224). At ten to eleven weeks after fertilization the baby is shown to be able to "breathe" amniotic fluid and gains the ability to urinate. Also at this age the baby will seize an object placed in its hand, a quality often regarded with interest in studies of newborns (Rorvick 234). At eleven weeks the baby has developed eyelids, fingernails and even has its own fingerprints.
All organ systems are fully functioning at this point and now they are just maturing and growing with the infant. The baby has also developed skeletal structure, nerves and circulation. A baby's size at this point is about the size of an adult's little fingernail (Cunningham 52). A baby at fourteen weeks has its heart pumping several quarts of blood through the body every day. At twelve weeks the baby has developed all of the body parts required to experience pain, including all of the nerves, spinal cord, and thalamus (Shettles 61). At eighteen weeks and beyond the baby is possible to be viable, which we have already defined as the point in which the baby could live outside the mother.
Even the baby at nineteen weeks was early for viability, but it was possible to sustain life outside of the mother's body. The Supreme Court believed that abortions would be mainly used for medical and health purposes, but in reality only seven percent of all abortion are so called "hard cases" of rape, incest, health of the baby and threat to the life or health of the mother. The other 93 percent of abortions are social or "birth control" reasons (Torres 169). The reason that the topic is so controversial is that ....
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