I was really disappointed to have missed both the Monday Night presentation and the Thursday discussion for this topic, as I think the american debate going on now about abortion is fascinating. I will do my best to write a good blogpost using the articles and Mr. Doggett's powerpoint presentation.
It was very interesting for me to see constitutional arguments on the legality of abortion, as I tend to see arguments centered around the morality of abortion, especially as it relates to religion. I had of course heard of Roe v Wade, but I had never heard of Skinner v. Oklahoma, which dealt with the compulsory sterilization of criminals and supported a "right to procreate", or Griswold v. Connecticut, which allowed for the use of contraception under the "right to privacy" covered under the penumbras of existing amendments. These two cases set the precedent for the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
The Gail Collins article talked about how despite the already-determined legality of abortions, it remains near impossible for women in some areas to get abortions. Southern states create ridiculous standards abortion clinics are required to abide by, like 5-foot wide hallways. These standards were designed to stop abortion clinics from being able to operate legally. State regulations also disproportionately affect lower-class women and minorities who are not able to drive great distances to go to an abortion clinic. The entire state of Mississippi only has one abortion clinic, and that one clinic is in jeopardy. These regulations are really just the state's way of skirting around the Supreme Court decision.
It was interesting to read that though more Americans are referring to themselves as pro-life than pro-choice, almost two-thirds of Americans said they agreed with the Roe v. Wade decision. It might be a semantics issue- "pro-life" just sounds good; you wouldn't want to be "anti-life". The other explanation is that people cannot deny the constitutionality of abortions, but they don't agree with the constitution themselves. This would be interesting; I feel like most Americans view the constitution as relatively infallible.
Personally, I am pro-choice. However, I do have some problems with the pro-choice movement. I think it's problematic that the fathers should have no choice as to whether or not their child is born. I understand that a baby is a much bigger burden on the mother than the father, but I don't think it's fair for a father to be forced to pay child support for a child they never wanted to have. I think the choice to have an abortion should involve both the mother and the father.
I do believe that the right to abortion is constitutional. I believe that a fetus isn't alive until it can survive on its own, so abortion isn't "killing a baby" because a fetus isn't a baby and it was never alive. Still, I am able to understand other's moral objections to abortions.
Abortion is an ever-present issue today, especially with the upcoming election, and I enjoyed learning more about its legal history.