Abortion in America Today: Freedom of Choice
A woman's right to have a legal abortion was first proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court in the case of Roe v. Wade (1973). In that historic case, the Court said that a woman's freedom to choose whether or not to bear children was so personal as to fall within the meaning of the "liberty" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Whether legal or not, abortions had been going on for centuries, usually in back-alley shops where the conditions were less than sanitary, and where a doctor performing an abortion could face criminal charges. It is the contention of today's pro-choice activists that if abortions were made illegal, women would not stop having them, but there would be a return to the back-alley butcher shops which legalization was meant to eradicate.
Of course, the Court's decision in the Roe case is still much debated and has left (many questions unanswered, for example, does a woman have a right to a state funded abortion? How about in cases of rape or incest? Should a minor be required to notify her parents or obtain their consent prior to her being allowed to get an abortion? Many states are Currently facing these issues. The successes of anti-abortion activists has caused the voters in several states to overturn their state's abortion funding programs ("State," 1987). This paper will explore recent legislation, analyze some of the current cases and trends of the courts and abortion activists, and conclude with recommendations for legislative action.
Recent legislation, such as the Hyde Amendment which is aimed at cutting the federal funding of abortions and other state measures, have been proliferated by anti-abortion activists at an alarming rate and with astonishing success (:Social," 1988, p. 112). The past few years have seen eighteen states repeal their laws which provided state funded abortions to the poor. The net...