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Defending Roe V. Wade: Critical Essay

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You've probably wondered how we got women's rights, or rights at all. If you are, you may also have wondered how laws change and what needs to happen for something to change. Regarding abortion rights, you may have wondered how these rights came about. An abortion is the termination of a pregnancy; embryos or fetuses are removed from the uterus using medicine or surgery. This is done by a health care professional. The decision to terminate a pregnancy is very personal. Guttmacher Institute researchers compared quantitative data from 2004 and 1987 surveys and found that the primary reasons women cited for terminating pregnancies were the same: having a baby would significantly interfere with their education, careers, or ability to take care of their dependents, or they could not afford a baby. Roe v. Wade had an extremely significant impact on society and women when it passed in 1973.

According to Roe v. Wade (1973), the U.S. Constitution guarantees pregnant women the right to terminate their pregnancy without interference from the government. This is a matter of particular importance for women, as they have the right to control their bodies and receive the healthcare they require. The United States Supreme Court established Roe v. Wade and found that state abortion laws, unduly restrictive, were unconstitutional on January 22, 1973. Justice Harry A. Blackmun obtained a majority opinion that ruled several Texas statutes criminalizing abortion in most cases violated the Fourteenth Amendment's right to privacy (“No country shall oppress any person without due process of law”). Pre-Roe versus post-Roe tends to create a false dichotomy. They claim that abortions were illegal then, but not for all. There is now a possibility of legalization, but not all people who desire it can do so.

At Washington University School of Medicine in the early 1900s, Dr. Frederick Joseph Taussig treated women whose bodies had been trampled by botched abortions conducted in alleyways. His granddaughter, Anne Taussig, who has done extensive research on his patients, says that “he saw many women suffer through hell during those years by self-inducing abortions, and many of them died as a consequence”. Life was not accessible before Roe. About 200 women die every year. When women cannot obtain a legal abortion, they traditionally self-induce abortions. Throughout history, horror stories have been told about women who attempt abortions by purposely falling down stairs, trying to ingest poisons, or even using instruments. Another standard method used by women was to turn to the unregulated market. Some women located abortion contributors who would perform abortions illegally, thus jeopardizing their professional careers and personal lives. A fascinating fact is that when abortions were criminalized in the mid-19th century, doctors and midwives were the primary providers. In my view, it is incredibly instructive to examine abortion provision during the immediate pre-Roe period. Due to our patchwork system, some women in certain areas – for example, cities – could afford a licensed provider much more quickly than women in rural areas. Consequently, a woman living in rural Louisiana in 1971 could not afford to travel to New York. For people to state their own opinions they usually have a protest.

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Protests are conducted to influence public opinion and government policy, or to bring about change through direct action. Other words, protest action refers to the partial or complete refusal to work or the retardation or obstruction of work to allow workers to protect their socioeconomic interests. A march and rally are held each year in Washington, D.C., protesting both the legality and the practice of abortion. This event is held around the anniversary of the decision Roe v. Wade in 1973. The issue of Roe v. Wade has come to the forefront once again in today's society as we see protests like these. Protests have intensified as the Supreme Court considers overturning Roe v. Wade or severely limiting it. Tens of thousands of women demonstrated against increased abortion restrictions throughout the United States. Demonstrators thronged the streets surrounding the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC, shouting “My body, my choice” and clapping loudly to the beat of drums. The pro-choice movement in the United States advocates for women's legal right to an elective abortion and or the right to end a pregnancy, and these protests are now part of a broader global movement for abortion rights.

The Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 did not 'invent' legal abortion or abortion in general. The right to abortion has existed both legally and illegally throughout the history of the United States. A study conducted by Princeton University in the 1960s found that almost one-third of women who would not wish to have any more children would experience having one or more unwanted pregnancies before reaching the end of their reproductive years. Prior to Roe, women had various options available to them despite the prevalence of unintended pregnancy in society. The best-case scenario is that such choices can be humiliating and demeaning, while the worst-case scenario may result in injury or death. Before Roe, most women could not obtain abortions legally under state law, but some women were always able to do so. Approximately 100,000 women sought abortions in New York City in the year before Roe v. Wade. Over 50,000 women have sought legal abortions in New York City in the past few years. Abortion became legal in every state after Roe v. Wade, which has had profound effects on the health and well-being of women. The number of abortion-related deaths has declined significantly, and now they are extremely rare. As well, women can now have abortions earlier in pregnancy, when they are least likely to suffer harm: in 1970, abortions were common, but by 1998, 56% of abortions were performed early in pregnancy.

State-by-state, abortion debates intensified following the Supreme Court's decision in Roe. 61% of Americans still believe abortion should be legal. A smaller percentage of the public, 38%, believes abortion should always be illegal. It has been argued that Roe v. Wade was an instance of judicial activism since the court based its decision purely on its views rather than existing law. Roe's supporters assert, however, that it is vital for the preservation of women's rights and freedoms. As the Harris poll question only refers to the first three months of pregnancy, pro-life activists have questioned whether it is a valid indication of public opinion regarding Roe. Today, Harris polls have tracked public opinion regarding Roe since 1973. The issue of abortion returned to the spotlight in 2021 as part of an oral argument over the Mississippi law that contravened Roe v. Wade. The proposed law would ban abortions following the 15th week of pregnancy. It is certainly possible for the Supreme Court to overturn its Roe v. Wade rulings, which have sparked riots in several states. There were many reactions to this law, and as Justice Harry Blackmun (who wrote the Roe decision) emphasized, “abortion will never be a straightforward issue”. It remains a highly debated topic because people's views on it are influenced by their world view and when they believe life begins.

In the years before Roe, the abortion laws in the nation took a heavy toll on women's lives and health. Abortions were performed illegally in large numbers. During the 1950s and 1960s, the government believes that 200,000 to 1.2 million illegal abortions were conducted. It nevertheless provided a stark indication of the problems associated with illegal abortions. Almost 2,700 women have been listed as having died from abortions in 1930, which represents 18% of all maternal deaths for that year. It is likely that the true number is much higher than what has been officially reported. A steep price was paid for the unlawful procedures. It is likely that without Roe v. Wade, women would have less or even no control over when and how many children they have. Pregnancy and parenthood are the primary reasons for dropping out of school for approximately 30 percent of teenage girls. Consequently, the level of educational achievement of teen mothers has a significant impact on their lifetime earnings. It is unlikely that women's status will return to its pre-Roe v. Wade state, especially in the modern era, with so many contraceptive methods, abortion drugs, and state laws protecting abortion access. Women across the country have greatly benefitted from Roe v. Wade over the past decade. This has allowed them to have previously unimaginable freedom, independence, and control over their lives. Despite this, Americans should not overlook the significance of Roe v. Wade in empowering women.

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Defending Roe V. Wade: Critical Essay. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 10, 2023, from
“Defending Roe V. Wade: Critical Essay.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
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Defending Roe V. Wade: Critical Essay [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2023 Dec 10]. Available from:
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