35 years: Roe v. Wade

With four words, “It is so ordered,” Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun declared that an unborn baby is not a “person,” and therefore not afforded the protection of the United States Constitution. That miscarriage of justice has been maintained for the last 35 years since the Jan. 22, 1973 decision.

Justice Blackmun acknowledged the emotional nature of the abortion controversy in writing the marjority opinion: The Court held that a woman’s right to an abortion was implicit in “liberty” guaranteed by the first section of the 14th Amendment. The Court broadly interpreted that liberty to include the right of personal privacy.

With the Roe decision, the Court recognized that “the right of personal privacy exists under the Constitution.” The Court went on to give a broad interpretation of the concept of “personal privacy” to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

At the same time the Court gave a narrow definition to the Constitution’s reference to “person.”

Since the Constitution does not define “person,” the Court looked at the definition of “citizen.” A “citizen” speaks of “persons born or naturalized” in the United States. By this definition, the Justices concluded that the unborn had no rights. Justice Blackmun further stated that the predominant belief is that “life does not begin until live birth.” With regard to the States’ interest in “potential life,” the Court found that regulation of fetuses after viability was logical.

The opinions of the 1973 Supreme Court Justices Justice Rehnquist and Justice White were the two dissenting voices on the Court. Rehnquist challenged the rationality of the courts application of the term “privacy.” Justice White said the following: “The court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more that the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries