Is the U.S. Supreme Court justified in reversing their fifty-year-old Roe vs Wade ruling?
The issue at hand is not whether a woman should be allowed to have an abortion but instead whether the U.S. Constitution supports a woman’s right to get an abortion. It is not the role of the Supreme Court to create laws to legalize abortion; its only role is to interpret the Constitution to determine what bearing, if any, the document has on the issue of abortion.
So, let’s look at the 1973 Supreme Court decision on Roe vs Wade. The 7-2 decision invoked the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause to assert that it provides a ‘right to privacy’ that translates into women having the right to choose to have an abortion.
Here is the Fourteenth Amendment clause in question:
- Section 1 Rights Guaranteed
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
The Supreme Court determined that this clause establishes a ‘right to privacy’ that grants women abortion rights.
It is understandable why many argue that the Supreme Court misinterpreted the purpose of the clause in 1973. Nowhere in the clause, or anywhere else in the Constitution, are the words ‘privacy’ or ‘abortion’ mentioned.
The Constitution seems to imply something much different. The following is the wording of the Tenth Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
So, since the Constitution is silent on the abortion issue, the Tenth Amendment reminds us that each state has reserved for it the power and the right to address the issue of abortion. Therefore, many argue that it was proper for the Roe vs Wade decision to be reversed by the current U.S. Supreme Court and returned to the states for political consideration.
This empowers everyone within each state to advocate for their position on the issue of abortion, either by convincing their state legislators to pass desired legislation, or by supporting the election of legislators who will. This is what democracy means.