Describe the history of how abortion became an area of Supreme Court jurisprudence. What legal decisions and concepts were central to the case of Roe v. Wade (1973)? How is the case Griswold v....

Describe the history of how abortion became an area of Supreme Court jurisprudence. What legal decisions and concepts were central to the case of Roe v. Wade (1973)? How is the case Griswold v. Connecticut connected to Roe v. Wade? Which constitutional amendments are lawyers most likely to refer to when arguing in favor of the abortion right? Mention at least two amendments and explain how they can be interpreted to be applicable to the case Roe v. Wade. Summarize the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. What are some examples of restrictions on abortion that have been upheld since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe? Why do you think the federal government got involved in the issue of abortion?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Before the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade (1973), several cases before the court related to the right to privacy. For example, the Supreme Court ruled in Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) that the use of birth control was protected by the marital "right to privacy." In Griswold, justices siding with the majority based the right to privacy on the 5th and 9th Amendments to the Constitution.

The Roe v. Wade case came before the Supreme Court after a district court in Texas ruled that the state law, in which abortion was only legal in the case of rape or incest, violated a woman's right to privacy in the 9th Amendment. The Supreme Court based their ruling on the Griswold v. Connecticut decision and ruled that women have a right to abortion in the first two trimesters of pregnancy and that states can regulate abortion rights in the last trimester. 

In deciding Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court cited the 9th Amendment, which states that rights not given to the federal government or the states belong to the people, and the 14th Amendment's due process clause, which limits state power in relation to individuals. These amendments are likely to be cited by lawyers defending a woman's right to an abortion. They apply to Roe v. Wade because they specify that states cannot interfere with individuals' rights, such as the right to privacy.

Several cases since Roe v. Wade have allowed for restrictions on abortions. In Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), the court allowed a prohibition on state facilities and state workers to conduct abortions and allowed a requirement for doctors to test a fetus's viability at 20 weeks of pregnancy. In Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), the court ruled that Pennsylvania could require a 24-hour waiting period for women wanting to receive an abortion, as well as a requirement for informed consent and for minors to obtain the consent of a parent or guardian. The federal government became involved in abortion rights in part because each state had different regulations before the decision, requiring women to often have to travel long distances to obtain an abortion. 

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