Monday, April 3, 2017

Roe vs Wade

I found Mr. Doggett's presentation to be very informative and I learned a lot about the history of Roe v Wade that I didn't know before. I also found the article we read to be very interesting. It talked about the history of Supreme Court rulings that have had to do with abortion. Before this presentation I didn't know anything about the history of abortion, in terms of the law at least, and now I do.

In addition to Roe v Wade, the article talked about Post-Roe court, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v Casey, and Partial-Birth abortion decisions. In post-Roe court, immediately after the decision, many questions arose regarding consent, parental consent, and spousal consent. Also immediately after the decision, the court generally didn't approve decisions regulating abortion, except in a few cases when the law didn't really impact a woman's right to end her pregnancy. In 1989, shortly after Roe v Wade, the result of Webster v Reproductive Health Services was that it upheld a statute in Missouri that didn't allow public facilities to perform abortions and didn't let public health workers perform abortions unless the mothers life was at risk. The statute also said that life began at conception and made doctors perform fetal viability tests on women who were 20 weeks or more pregnant and seeking abortions. Personally, I have no idea how or why that statute was upheld because it contradicts many of the ideas adopted in Roe v Wade. I had no idea what a partial-birth abortion was before reading this article and honestly, it's terrifying. The idea of removing a fetus from a woman's uterus and crushing it's skull and taking it's brain out is just not OK to me. According to the article, in 2003 George W Bush signed an act that was the first federal law banning the afore-mentioned D&X procedure. But, pro-choice activists protested and the bill was struck down. However, in 2007, the Supreme Court reversed the decision to strike it down and upheld the act that banned D&X procedures.

Mr. Doggett's presentation was also very informative. I didn't know about Sherri Finkbine or Estelle Griswold before the presentation, but they were key in promoting and legalizing a woman's right to choose.

Sherri Finkbine was a TV personality who got pregnant and experienced extreme morning sickness. So her husband came back from a business tricot Europe with a drug that he was told helped with morning sickness. He did not know that the drug he was given was thalidomide, a poisonous drug that caused extreme birth defects. Once the couple found out their child would be born defected, they decided that Sherri would have an abortion. They found a doctor that would do the procedure, but someone leaked the news to the media and it was published in the newspaper. This publicity made the doctors fear that their reputations would be damaged if they performed the abortion, so they told Sherri they wouldn't do it. However, Sherri and her husband were rich enough that they were able to go to Sweden to get the abortion. This is important in the fight for a woman's right to choose because Sherri had a choice, but the doctors' fear for their reputations made them refuse to respect her choice and they wouldn't do the procedure, so Sherri wasn't really able to choose, at least not in the US.

Estelle Griswold was the director of Planned Parenthood in the Catholic town of New Haven, Connecticut. She was fined and arrested for providing contraception (specifically condoms) to married couples. It was illegal in New Haven to use drugs or instruments to prevent conception during that time. Estelle took her case all the way to the Supreme Court and used Skinner v Oklahoma to argue that the government doesn't have any business in people's lives (or their bedrooms) and that people have a fundamental right to privacy and they have a right to be left alone. The attorney general of Connecticut argued that all powers not designated in the constitution fell to the states and that the states have the authority to protect the health and well-being of their citizens, including the use of contraceptives. The state also argued that giving married couples condoms was a way of allowing cheating because, theoretically, no one would ever have to know about an affair if the woman involved in the affair couldn't get pregnant. The state said that the cheating could lead to divorce and they didn't want that in their Catholic town, to which Estelle said it was none of the state's business what happened in individual's lives and homes. The result of Griswold v Connecticut was that the Supreme Court sided with Estelle Griswold and established that everyone has a fundamental right to privacy.

Personally, the idea of abortions bothers me and I don't support them, however I understand that criminalizing abortions will not necessarily decrease the number of abortions that happen, but it will decrease the safety of abortions. Making abortions illegal will bring back coat hanger abortions and other sketchy abortions that will not only kill the fetus, but will greatly increase the mother's chance of dying or becoming seriously injured as well. From Mr. Doggett's presentation, I was able to gain a better understanding of the history of abortions and the context in which we regard them today. The different arguments brought up by the pro-choice and pro-life side of each case we looked at enabled me to expand my understanding of the pros and cons of abortion and try to figure out where I sand on abortions (I'm still not sure).

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