The legal history of abortion:the aftermath of Griswold v. Connecticut 47 years later

The US Supreme Court.  Photo credit: wallyg on Flickr.

How they pulled a right to privacy out of the Constitution.

The US Supreme Court. Photo credit: wallyg on Flickr.

Just how did the right to an abortion appear in the Constitution? It’s found in the Fifth Amendment, which reads in relevant part, “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” And the Fourteenth Amendment: “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.” You see it there, right? The language dealing with the constitutional right to have an abortion?

What I see is that no person shall be deprived of life without due process. We have a constitution that is designed to protect life. But right now it is doing the opposite.

A “right to privacy” has been found to be implied within our Constitution. This sounds great at first glance. Everyone likes his or her own personal bubble. Everyone likes his or her privacy.

The case that laid the groundwork for this right to privacy was Griswold v. Connecticut. On June 7, 1965, the decision was issued in that case. Now, forty-seven years later we can see where that decision has taken us.

Back in the 1960s, Connecticut had a ban on contraceptives. This ban was challenged, and the case made it to the Supreme Court, where the Court found:

Would we allow the police to search the sacred precincts of marital bedrooms for telltale signs of the use of contraceptives? The very idea is repulsive to the notions of privacy surrounding the marriage relationship.

We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights — older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.

With the right to privacy on the books, it was only eight years before the concept was expanded in the infamous Roe v. Wade case. Yes, the ability to abort one’s child was recognized in the Constitution under the right to privacy, a right that was established forty-seven years ago today.

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