Should abortion be a constitutional right?


Fact Box

  • The most current data from the CDC reports that in 2018, there were 619,591 abortions performed in the US. 
  • One comparative study found “legal, induced abortion” to be 14 times safer for a mother than childbirth.
  • A 2019 Gallup poll revealed that 21% of Americans think abortions should be illegal “in all circumstances.”
  • The Guttmacher Institute reports that 45 states allow “individual health care providers to refuse to participate in an abortion.”  

Stephanie (No)

Abortion should never be considered a constitutional right primarily because it is not explicitly outlined in the Constitution and instead exists 'in a loose reading of it.' While pro-choice proponents will often cite Roe v. Wade for legal protection, this is hardly a sound argument considering that the ruling only outlaws restrictive abortion access but does not necessarily make abortion a 'constitutional law.' At the time, the deciding court 'relied on the self-contradictory notion of 'substantive due process'' to find a loophole in its interpretation of the Constitution. It is also worth noting that the ruling is relatively recent, as it only occurred in 1973.

The basis for Roe v. Wade's ruling is that the Constitution protects individual and other privacies under the Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. However, this creates an ethical dilemma in that claimed privacy concerns appear 'to cover illicit and sinful actions,' such as performing an abortion.

Conversely, the right to life IS protected under the Constitution, written into the Declaration of Independence, which guarantees 'unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.' It is admittedly contradictory when progressives argue that abortion is constitutionally protected--which it is not--and then question specifically written protections such as those under the First and Second Amendments.

The legality and morality surrounding abortion remain undecided in society. Yet, recent cases should be considered for their importance, as states such as Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio have passed strict anti-abortion laws, indicating that modern lawmakers question the practice, especially when it pertains to late-term pregnancy termination.

Ellery (Yes)

For almost fifty years, the right to an abortion has been a Black Letter Law, the term used to refer to a well-established legal rule. Further, the Supreme Court has stated that no law created to restrict abortion could ever be constitutional. 

In Roe v. Wade, Justices ruled that the right to choose an abortion was a fundamental one, implicitly protected under due process. In 2016, the court recognized that without access to abortion, the right is meaningless, and thus any laws attempting to make abortions more difficult to get are also unconstitutional. 

Pro-life groups claim that abortions are dangerous for both mother and child. However, it has been legally recognized that the personhood of a fetus is unknown and thus unprotectable. 

Additionally, abortion is actually one of the safest medical procedures in the world, with over 98% percent of them occurring without complications and less than 0.1% of women encountering any significant side effects. 

Pregnancy, on the other hand, holds a significant danger. One in fifteen women experiences any combination of dozens of health risks due to pregnancy--including permanent damage to various organs--not to mention the immense psychological strain and mental/hormonal ramifications surrounding every stage of the process. For a healthy woman, any of these complications can quickly become life-threatening, and the danger is exponentially greater for anyone with a pre-existing condition.

The right to choose an easy abortion is legally protected and has been for half a century, but moreover: it can save a woman’s life. For these reasons, abortion should absolutely be a constitutional right. 

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