Question List

Q: What is meant by the Court's "abortion jurisprudence"?

The term "abortion jurisprudence" as used here refers to the Court's holdings on legal matters related to abortion. In its 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, the Court reached the shocking conclusion that abortion, which is mentioned nowhere in the text of the Constitution and had been criminalized for centuries in Anglo-American law, is a "fundamental" constitutional "right." The Court's "abortion jurisprudence" includes what the Court said in 1973 as well as in all its subsequent abortion decisions. Over the years the Court has adjusted aspects of its holdings, and in 1992 retreated from its position that abortion is "fundamental." To this day, however, the Court continues to treat abortion as a constitutionally protected right under principles of stare decisis (or respect for precedent).  Many scholars, including some who support a right to abortion as a matter of legislative policy, agree that Roe and Doe are among the most constitutionally indefensible decisions in the history of the Court. The Court created a "right" to abortion without basis in the Constitution or U.S. legal traditions, and displaced the democratically-expressed will of the people and their representatives. Copyright © 2018 NCHLA