It feels like yesterday but it’s actually been 40 years since the landmark decision that declared a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
The decision invalidated all state laws restricting access to abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, allowed states to regulate second trimester abortions in ways related to maternal health, and permitted third trimester abortion restrictions including allowing states to outlaw them.
In the words of Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the 7 – 2 majority: “The right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” You can read the full opinion here.
Regardless of the law, the opposition to the woman’s right to free choice continues. We remain obligated to educate and protect those who find themselves in untenable positions.