Women's Rights To Obtain An Abortion

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Roe vs. Wade/Planned Parenthood vs. Casey: Women's Rights to Obtain an Abortion

Roe vs. Wade/Planned Parenthood vs. Casey

The Supreme Court of the United States gave a historic verdict on abortion in the case of Roe v. Wade in 1973. The court ruled that states could not forbid a woman to have an abortion during the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy. The court based this ruling on the assumption that an early abortion is usually safer for the woman than a pregnancy that lasts a full nine months. The court also ruled that, during the second trimester, states may regulate abortion only to protect women's health. Once the fetus becomes viable in the third trimester, states may regulate abortion to protect the interests of both women and the unborn. The Roe v. Wade decision stated that the U.S. Constitution implies the right of privacy and allows a woman to decide for herself if she will have an abortion (Dennis, Edward, Grant, Paige, 1987).

Since the Roe v. Wade decision, many groups have organized in the United States to oppose abortion and the legislation and court decisions that permit it. These groups include the National Right to Life Committee and the Christian Coalition as well as Operation Rescue, which conducts demonstrations near abortion clinics. Most pro-life groups strongly oppose illegal acts. However, some individuals have vandalized, bombed, or set fire to abortion clinics. Others have attacked and killed doctors and other clinic employees (Joffe, 1995).

In Planned Parenthood of Eastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), both sides of the abortion dispute asked the Supreme Court to review the ruling in Roe v. Wade. The justices upheld the ruling by a vote of 5 to 4. The court also ruled that states may require women seeking an abortion to first receive counseling by a doctor about fetal development and abortion risks. The court also decided that states may require women to wait 24 hours between the counseling and the abortion (Squires, 2000).

Pro-choice activists did not have to wait long after Webster case for further challenges to their privacy rights. The next major change occurred after three years from Webster in Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania vs. Casey (1992). This concerned parental notification of a minor's abortion, informed consent, a 24-hour waiting period and confidential reporting. Despite denying a spousal notification requirement, this case obviously challenged "Roe vs. Wade" by rejecting Roe's trimester ...
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