Roe v. Wade (1973)
A single, pregnant, Texas woman, under the pseudonym of Jane Roe, challenged anti-abortion laws by stating that they violated her rights under the Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment states that no state can "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." The Supreme Court had to decide whether a fetus was a person or not. The Court upheld Roe's claim that her right to privacy entitled her to an abortion. However, they went on to say that the right to privacy is not absolute. "A state may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health [of the mother], in maintaining medical standards [how and by whom abortions are performed], and in protecting potential life." The Court ruled on this by saying: 1. Abortions in the first three months of pregnancy cannot be limited by the states excepting that they may require that doctors perform them. 2. The state may set the conditions under which abortions may performed during the second three months of pregnancy to safeguard the health of the mother. 3. The state may outlaw abortions during the last three months of pregnancy to protect the "viable fetus," excepting cases in which the mother's life or health is threatened.
Copyright © 1997 Jonathan Chin & Alan Stern