Abortion: The Right To Choose

Many people believe abortion is a moral issue, but it is also a constitutional issue. It is a woman's right to choose what she does with her body, and it should not be altered or influenced by anyone else. This right is guaranteed by the ninth amendment, which contains the right to privacy.

The ninth amendment states: " The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." This right guarantees the right to women, if they so choose, to have an abortion, up to the end of the first trimester. Regardless of the fact of morals, a woman has the right to privacy and choice to abort her fetus. The people that hold a "pro-life" view argue that a woman who has an abortion is killing a child. The "pro-choice" perspective holds this is not the case. A fetus is not yet a baby. It does not possess the criteria derived from our understanding of living human beings. In a notable defense of this position, philosopher Mary Anne Warren has proposed the following criteria for "person-hood":

1) consciousness (of objects and events external and or internal to the being), and in particular the capacity to feel pain.
2) reasoning (the developed capacity to solve new and relatively complex problems).
3) self-motivated activity (activity which is relatively independent of either genetic or direct external control) 
4) the capacity to communicate, by whatever means,
messages of an indefinite variety of possible contents, but on indefinitely many possible topics.
5) the presence of self-concepts, and self-awareness, either individual or social, or both. (Taking Sides -Volume 3).

Several cases have been fought for the right to choose. Many of these have been hard cases with very personal feelings, but the perseverance showed through and gives us the rights we have today. Here are some important cases: 1965 - Griswold v. Connecticut - upheld the right to privacy and ended the ban on birth control. Eight years later, the Supreme Court ruled the right to privacy included abortions. Roe v. Wade was based upon this case. 1973 - Roe v. Wade: - The state of Texas had outlawed abortions. The Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional, but refused to order an injunction against the state. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court voted the right to privacy included abortions. In 1976, Planned Parenthood v. Danforth (Missouri) ruled that requiring consent by the husband and the consent from a parent if a person was under 18 was unconstitutional. This case supported a woman's control over her own body and reproductive system.

Justice William Brennan stated: "If the right to privacy means anything, it is the right of the individual, married or single, to be free from unwanted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the decision to bear or beget a child."

Abortion is one of the most controversial issues in the world today. Everyone has their own individual opinion. A woman's body is hers and hers alone. Nobody has the right to make her do something that she does not want to. The Supreme Court has stated it is the women's right to have an abortion, if she so chooses, according to Roe v. Wade. In later cases however, the Court has upheld Roe in Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992). In the same ruling, though, the Court gave states new powers to restrict access to abortions. (Hardy, pg. 189).

Abortion deals with one's private life and should have nothing to do with the government. However, abortion should not be used as a means of birth control, but if a fetus will be unwanted, it is better to be aborted than to be abused or neglected.

Many people try to force their beliefs on others and judge them for their actions. These people need to judge themselves before they start to judge others. The bottom line is no matter what anyone thinks the laws speak for themselves. It is a woman's right to privacy to control her reproductive system guaranteed by the constitution.

Although there are some restrictions on abortion, due to the states' rights, it is still ultimately the woman's choice. It is not a requirement for some states to fund for abortions, therefore, especially in these states it should be the woman's choice. Abortion is an issue of women, and so it should be the woman's right to choose. She has the free will to consider others views and opinions such as that of the father, but it is her ultimate decision guaranteed by the law.

Dana Pentoney
Karen Sipes
Jen Roane

Government in America by Richard J. Hardy, copyright 1994, page 189

Taking Sides on Clashing Views of Controversial Bioethical Issues by Carol Levine, Volume 3 , copyright 1991, pages: 4-8

The American Heritage History of the Bill of Rights, "The Ninth Amendment." by Phillip A. Klinkner, copyright 1991, pages: 31, 56, 75-78, 80-87, 110, 116

To The AP US Constitutional Questions Essay Index
To US History Lessons Plans

George Cassutto's
  Cyberlearning World

     [Lesson Plan of the Day]     [Cassutto Memorial]    [About the Author]    [Search]    [Civics Lesson Plans]