Is Abortion A Constitutional Right?

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate May 2001

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The legalization of abortion has always been a controversial issue. There are many different views concerning both the ethical acceptability as well as the political aspects of abortion. While advocates for abortion believe a woman's decision to terminate her pregnancy is accounted for in her right to privacy, opponents believe the act of depriving the unborn fetus of life violates its right to equal protection under the law. Therefore, should a democracy pass a constitutional amendment, which is imposable by justices, that proclaims abortion to be a constitutional right? Within a democracy, all people are governed by general laws""rules that apply to everybody""and all people are (ideally) recognized as equal. A government based on laws is the best way of protecting personal rights because when the law is applied to everybody, they all, then, have the same incentive to know the limit to their rights. Even though democracy seems to require equality under the law, all laws make distinctions.

Abortion laws, for example, are not equal to all individuals because: (1) they affect the lives of women more than men, and (2) the unborn fetuses' have no fundamental rights. It is therefore necessary to ask how can equality be defined, how equality pertains to democracy, and who ultimately determines which laws should be applied equally to the population. One could superficially define equality as the condition of "having identical privileges, rights, [and] status,"� which obviously has a normative aura, and is therefore incomplete. Consequently, it is necessary to understand how equality pertains to government.

One core characteristic of political and legal equality is that "during a process of collective decision-making, the interests of every person who is subject to the decision must (within the limits of feasibility) be accurately interpreted and made known,"� which Robert Dahl considers a primary factor...