Texas Abortion Laws

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					Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders

                                  Roe v. Wade
                                     1973

                                       Facts:

Prior 1973        Abortion illegal in most States with some exceptions:
                  legal in case of danger to woman's health, rape or
                  incest, or likely damaged fetus

1970              Attorneys Coffee and Weddington challenge on
                  behalf of Jane Roe (Norma McCorvey) the
                  constitutionality of Texas abortion laws in front of the
                  U.S. District Court in Texas

                  Court declares abortion statues void as vague and
                  overbroadly infringing plaintiff’s rights but does not
                  grant injunction

                  Appeal to the Supreme Court claiming violation of
                  the right to personal privacy, protected by 1st, 4th, 5th,
                  9th and 14th Amendments:

                  “[…] Texas statutes improperly invade a right, said to
                  be possessed by the pregnant woman, to choose to
                  terminate her pregnancy.” (410 U.S. 113, 8)




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Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders



                                         Decision:

   1. Historical Background

      • “common law” : abortion before quickening not penalised
      • English statutory law:
        1803 1st abortion statute makes abortion of a
        quick fetus capital crime; death penalty
        disappears though later in 1837 Statute 1929:
        emphasis on destruction of life of a child capable
        of being born alive (felony)
      • American law:
        1821 1st abortion statute in Connecticut makes abortion of a
        quick fetus a crime (not capital)
        1828, New York: destruction of unquickened fetus
        misdemeanour, destruction of quickened fetus 2nd degree
        manslaughter; however, exceptions in case of danger to
        woman's life
      • since 1850’s: quickening distinction disappeared, degree of
        offences and penalties in regard to abortion increased
      • three reasons to explain and justify anti-abortion laws:
        (1) Victorian prudery
        (2) States concern for life and health of pregnant women
              (low medical standards)
        (3) State’s interest (duty) in protecting prenatal life




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Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders
   2. Legal reasoning

      • Protected Right?

      ⇒ Right of Privacy: 14th Amendment (Due Process Clause)

      ⇒ Right of Privacy exists under the Constitution (Griswold v.
        Connecticut)

      ⇒ fundamental right that includes woman’s decision whether
        or not to terminate her pregnancy

      ⇒ however, not an absolute right; some state regulation in
       this area is appropriate (safeguarding health, maintaining
       medical standards, protecting potential life)




                                  strict scrutiny test:

                                 justification only by a

                               compelling state interest
                               law narrowly tailored to achieve that
         interest
                               least restrictive means

      • Compelling state interest?

      ⇒ yes, if protection of another fundamental right,
        e.g. life and health of a person

      (1) Is fetus a “person” protected by 14th Amendment? (-)

      (2) When does “life” begin? (-)
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Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders


      However:

      ⇒ protection of health and life of the pregnant woman
        and potentiality of human life:

      “Each grows in substantiality as the woman approaches term,
      and, at a point during pregnancy, each becomes “compelling”.



                      beginning of the “compelling point”:

      ⇒ health of the mother: after first trimester

      ⇒ interest in potential life: viability of the fetus, 24-28 weeks

      • Conclusion

⇒ the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the
abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical
judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.

⇒ the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester,
the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if
it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably
related to maternal health.

⇒ the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest
in the potentiality of human life [410 U.S. 113, 165] may, if it
chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is
necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the
life or health of the mother.




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Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders


                                      3. Criticism

   ⇒ […] The Court simply fashions and announces a new
   constitutional right. […] In my view its judgement is an
   improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial
   review. (Justice White, dissenting)

   ⇒ […] Although rhetorically tied to the meaning of ‘liberty’ in the
   fourteenth amendment due process clause, and loosely aligned with
   the penumbral analysis developed in Griswold, Roe cut loose from
   the constitutional text. (Ira Lupu, 8 Dayton L.Rev. 579, 583 (1983))

   ⇒ Roe is a very bad decision. It is bad because it is bad
   constitutional law, or rather because it is not constitutional law and
   gives almost no sense of an obligation to try to be. (Ely, 82, Yale
   L.J. 920, 947 (1973))

   ⇒ Nothing that the Court has ever done has been more concretely
   important for women. Laws restricting abortion have a devastating
   sex-specific impact.[…] [T]he best argument for the right to
   abortion is based on principles of sexual equality, not “due process”
   or “privacy”. (Sylvia Law, 132 U.Pa.L.Rev. 955, 981 (1984)




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Prof. Dr. Markus Kotzur        Vorlesung American Constitutional Law   WS 08/09

                            Wiss. Mitarbeiterin Anna Mrozek

                          Lehrstuhl Prof. Dr. Christoph Enders


                     3. Bundesverfassungsgericht (39, 1)


      1. Das sich im Mutterleib entwickelnde Leben steht als
      selbständiges Rechtsgut unter dem Schutz der Verfassung (GG
      Art 2 Abs 2 S 1, Art 1 Abs 1).

      Die Schutzpflicht des Staates verbietet nicht nur unmittelbare
      staatliche Eingriffe in das sich entwickelnde Leben, sondern
      gebietet dem Staat auch, sich schützend und fördernd vor dieses
      Leben zu stellen.

      2. Die Verpflichtung des Staates, das sich entwickelnde Leben in
      Schutz zu nehmen, besteht auch gegenüber der Mutter.

      3. Der Lebensschutz der Leibesfrucht genießt grundsätzlich für
      die gesamte Dauer der Schwangerschaft Vorrang vor dem
      Selbstbestimmungsrecht der Schwangeren und darf nicht für
      eine bestimmte Frist in Frage gestellt werden.

      4. Der Gesetzgeber kann die grundgesetzlich gebotene rechtliche
      Mitbilligung des Schwangerschaftsabbruchs auch auf andere
      Weise zum Ausdruck bringen als mit dem Mittel der
      Strafdrohung. Entscheidend ist, ob die Gesamtheit der dem
      Schutz des ungeborenen Lebens dienenden Maßnahmen einen
      der Bedeutung des zu sichernden Rechtsgutes entsprechenden
      tatsächlichen Schutz gewährleistet. Im äußersten Falle, wenn der
      von der Verfassung gebotene Schutz auf keine andere Weise
      erreicht werden kann, ist der Gesetzgeber verpflichtet, zur
      Sicherung des sich entwickelnden Lebens das Mittel des
      Strafrechts einzusetzen.




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