What were the main points of Roe v. Wade?
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In Roe v. Wade (1973), the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that criminalized abortion. Essentially, the Court said that the law violated a woman's right to privacy, one of the powers implied by legal precedent and interpretation of the Ninth Amendment. The decision was 7-2, and writing the majority opinion, Justice Harry Blackmon laid out a set of rules governing the legal status of abortions in the states. Blackmon said that the state did not have a role in regulating the decision to abort a pregnancy during the first trimester. In the second trimester, states could regulate abortion with respect to the health of the mother, but not otherwise. In the third trimester, the Court said that abortions could be banned because it is during the third trimester that the fetus gains the potential to live outside the womb. The Court declined that a fetus represented a human life by saying that it was not subject to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Still, it denied medical expertise on the matter:
[W]e need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins, when those trained in the respective fields of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus. The judiciary at this point in thedevelopment of man's knowledge is not in a position to speculate as to the answer.
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