The Reproductive Right Debate Essays

2566 Words 11 Pages
No other element of the Women’s Rights Movement has generated as much controversy as the debate over reproductive rights. As the movement gained momentum so did the demand for birth control, sex education, family planning and the repeal of all abortion laws. On January 22, 1973 the Supreme Court handed down the Roe v. Wade decision which declared abortion "fundamental right.” The ruling recognized the right of the individual “to be free from unwanted governmental intrusion into matters so fundamentally affecting a person as the right of a woman to decide whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” (US Supreme Court, 1973) This federal-level ruling took effect, legalizing abortion for all women nationwide.
In a 2006 study conducted by
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495) Abortions were linked to low birth rates of American children, and fear was spread that with the continuing birth rates, the population would no longer be able to reproduce itself The fear was that lower class and immigrant children would soon make up the majority. Abortion was seen as a privilege more available to the higher classes than the lower ones, thus explaining the imbalance in birth rates. (Linders, 1998)
Another key issue in the argument to criminalize abortions was the attempt by doctors to establish exclusive rights to practice medicine. They wanted to prevent midwives, apothecaries, and other “untrained” practitioners from competing with them for patients and patient fees. Rather than openly admitting to such motivations, the newly formed American Medical Association (AMA) argued that abortion was both immoral and dangerous. By 1910, all but one state had criminalized abortion except where necessary, in a doctor's judgment, to save the woman's life. “Should the woman die in that situation, it would not be because of the abortion but in spite of it.” (p.494) In this way, legal abortion was successfully transformed into a "physicians-only" practice. (Linders, 1998)
Unfortunately, the criminalization of abortion did not…