The Supreme Court's Involvement with Abortion
Never in the history of the United States, with the exception of the Slave Trade, has a public policy carved such an unmistakable social divide. Never before has a public policy spurned so many questions about social and political standards of American culture. To understand the abortion controversy and ultimately the Supreme Court’s involvement and decision in Roe v. Wade, the roots of abortion must be examined.
The American public turned to the Supreme Court to seek a resolution for the abortion conflict. Interest groups from both sides of the abortion spectrum realized their ability to effect abortion policy was much greater if fought in the courtroom, “litigation offered the potential for deciding the issue far more quickly than would be achieved through a state-by-state effort to win repeal (p.32).” Opposing viewpoints and disagreeing philosophies prevented legislature from formulating a national abortion policy. The pro-life ideology of conservative republicans was in direct conflict with the pro-choice ideology of liberal democrats. The federal system, with its system of checks and balances, left legislatures on both the federal and state level in an abortion stalemate. The dilemma faced by the legislature is exemplified by Karen O’Connor, “The fact that abortion has become an issue only non-elected officials seem able to moderate-if not resolve-leads conservatives to argue that the political system has failed because such an issue should be handled by the legislative branch, and liberals to argue that abortion is an individual decision properly made apart from government (p.115).” Soon, it was apparent that the burden of resolving the abortion issue would be placed upon the Supreme Court.
When the U.S Constitution was originally drafted, clearly the framers of American government did not intend for the Supreme Court to play such a powerful role on public policy. But in January of 1973, when the Supreme Court announced their decision in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court took on new life, as its decision pronounced the Court a maker of public policy. Through Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court created the blueprints for a national abortion policy. A policy that declared a woman’s right to an abortion unconditionally protected by the constitutional right to personal privacy. The framework, the general principle of Roe v. Wade was properly decided. The Constitutional right of personal privacy should be interpreted to include a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. However, some areas of the Court’s decision are flawed, particularly their decision to divide pregnancy into trimesters.
Abortion did not immediately engrave itself onto public agenda; it had help. The legal debate over the use of birth control proved to be the catalyst needed to propel abortion to the Supreme Court and into the ranks of public policy. The birth control movement was significant to Roe v. Wade because it served as a...