Roe v. Wade & 14th Amendment...?

I'm studying Roe v. Wade for an exam but I don't entirely understand the ruling. So the majority opinion was decided on the basis that abortion violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment, yes? I'm failing to see how the 2 have anything to do with each other, especially when "privacy rights" are brought in (there's nothing about privacy in the 14th Amendment is there?). Can someone explain to me more clearly the basis for the ruling? Thanks so much!

3 Answers

  • 8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    For starters, here is a GREAT website for all you need to know about Roe and its progeny.

    It has summaries, transcripts of the case, and other reading materials about Roe and subsequent cases.

    here is a great analysis of Roe :

    You are correct, there are no "privacy" rights in the Constitution. There is not even an implied "privacy right." Roe v. Wade was argued using Amendments 1,4,5,9, and 14. Here's a quote from the above link:

    "Roe, as noted in the Introduction, was based on the right of privacy. As Roe itself acknowledged, however, “[t]he Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy." Nevertheless, in a line of decisions going back to the late nineteenth century, “the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution." This right of privacy, “founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty," the Court in Roe held, “is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."

    The roots of a right of personal privacy have been found in the U.S. Constitution in the following places:

    in the free speech guarantee of the First Amendment, which has been held to protect the possession of pornography in one’s home, Stanley v. Georgia (1969);

    in the Fourth Amendment, which secures the right of the people against “unreasonable searches and seizures" of their “persons, homes, papers and effects," and the Fifth Amendment, which prohibits compulsory self-incrimination, see Boyd v. United States (1886) (Fourth and Fifth Amendments protect against all governmental invasions “of the sanctity of a man’s home and the privacies of life”);

    in the Ninth Amendment, which preserves other rights not enumerated in the Constitution, Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) (striking down statute prohibiting use of contraceptives by married couples) ;

    in the “penumbras" (shades) of the Bill of Rights as a whole, Griswold;

    and in the liberty language of the Due Process Clause of § 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, Meyer v. Nebraska (1923) (striking down a state statute forbidding the teaching of any subject in any language other than English, or the teaching of modern foreign languages below the eighth grade)."

    Hope this helps.

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  • Joseph
    Lv 5
    8 years ago

    When you state that you fail to see what the one has to do with the other you're correct. They DON"T! Due process simply means that a "process" has to be formulated and carried out when applying a law. Such as eminent domain. First the need for the property in question is agreed on, it is appraised etc. Due process seems to be the Amendment of choice when they can't find ANY other one that works! Roe vs Wade was in part decided on the inherent right to privacy "implied" in the 4 th Amendment, but Justice Scalia said it best! "To be perfectly honest, every decision we make is a political one." He then went on to state that the Constitution is silent on abortion, same sex marriage, and I can't remember the third. "That means we are free to do as we see fit (please) when addressing those issues."

    Source(s): Scalia's remarks from a Detroit Free Press article
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  • 8 years ago

    Substantive due process, not procedural due process. Procedural due process just means that the laws are applied correctly and fairly, whereas substantive due process rights are those rights you have that stem from life and liberty, essentially. The justices considered privacy an implicit substantive due process right.

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