Before and After Roe v. Wade
Abortion is a term we have all heard and either have a negative or positive outlook on. It is a very controversial subject that first made “big” headlines in 1973 in the case of Roe v. Wade. Since then there have been many other cases trying to overturn and amend the law. Since then more and more activist groups have risen like the “Pro-Life” and “Pro-Choice” groups. Currently today there are still big headlines of states and federal governments trying to determine when life actually begins for a human being. New bills are being made daily to try to illegalize abortion except for exceptional reasons such as a woman’s life in danger. Only one state ...view middle of the document...
A landmark decision in 1973 in the case of Jane Roe against the Henry Wade, the then District Attorney of Dallas, changed the legal opinion on abortion. At the ruling, the court affirmed that by denying a woman the chance to abortion the woman was being denied the right to privacy which is guaranteed in the constitution. On the question as to whether the unborn child should be considered a person with rights also guaranteed in the constitution the court ruled that the unborn child shall be considered as a person if the child is “viable.” Viable was defined as the ability to live outside the womb albeit artificially.
This shifted the legal ground since before this abortion was illegal in America, it divided the country into two, the “Pro-Choice” and the “Pro-Life.” These sides in turn had movements to support them and carry out their message to the world. The movements exist up to now.
Abortion law before Roe V Wade
In pre and post the American Revolution, the British settlers brought over the “case law” which citizens followed. Case law was an adopted way of legal standards that was custom in England. These standards were not like that normal code of statutes that were passed by parliament and printed (Workshop, 1970).
Under the case law, the abortion of a 'quickened' fetus was a 'very atrocious misdemeanor.’ During this time, the consequences for misbehaviors could be serious and could include loss of a limb, life in prison or confiscation of property. 'Quickening' can be defined as when a woman who is pregnant first feels her child move which normally happens in the second trimester. Academics have noted that the case law prerequisite of a 'quickened' unborn child for the abortion crime was perhaps anchored on a very evident thought. Because there were no ways to test for pregnancy in the 18th century, indication that an unborn child's movement had been felt could have been the only means to ascertain in a court of law that a woman was indeed pregnant. Connecticut in 1821, was the first state to adopt a law against abortion. This law said that is was a crime to do anything destructive to prompt a miscarriage. It strictly applied to cases where the unborn child had "quickened."
By 1840, Maine turned out to be the first state to ratify a law that explicitly protected all unborn children, "quick or otherwise." The abolishment of the "quickening" condition concurred with the 19th century innovation of how human beings were conceived. Members of the legal profession together with the public were appreciating of the fact that life starts at the moment a sperm fertilizes an ovum (Callahan, 1972). This was a significant progress considering the technology at the time.
By mid-19th century, the then newly formed AMA (American Medical Association) commenced its organization of medical societies and physicians in backing of laws prohibiting abortion. In 1859, the American...