Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Supreme court's abortion ruling 40 years on

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the controversial legalisation of abortion by the US Supreme Court.


In the US, abortion advocates today commemorate the anniversary of the equally celebrated and equally hated Supreme Court decision legalising abortion, Roe v Wade. The Court declared abortion to be constitutional in 1973. This was a victory for a women’s rights, but came with limitations; while abortions can be performed in the first trimester without government intrusion, the right to an abortion is limited in the second trimester and nearly nonexistent for the third.

The Court reasoned that requiring women to see licensed professionals was not unconstitutional. A major plus was that back-alley abortions which were very dangerous and could result in the injury or death of the expecting woman - would decrease. 

Forty years later, the abortion debate continues to rage in America. Yet, Professor Steven Levitt of the University of Chicago and Professor John Donohue of Stanford Law School have pointed out that before abortion’s legalisation, unwanted children were born into a life of expected failure. The broken home scenario did not yield favourable results. People raised in broken homes seemed to compose a larger percentage of the prison population than those raised in a traditional nuclear family.

The professors, specialising in social economics and law, looked at abortion data and crimes rates. They noted that a large proportion of criminals were between the ages of 18-24. Their data showed that crime rates dropped in 1992, 19 years after Roe. In 1995, crime rates dropped sharply. They concluded that abortions had a hand in the decrease of crime. Although their methodology is disputed, it has not been completely rejected. 

If Roe is ever repealed, abortions will continue to happen. With Roe in action, women have a guarantee of a safer procedure. If the state cannot save the life of the child, then it can at least make sure that the woman’s life is not in danger. @salawm
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