The subject of abortion has been a critical issue in American politics for more than three decades. From the perspective of both State and Federal legislature, the formulation of controlling decisions on an issue as personal and problematic as abortion has been clouded with controversy. Add to that the public fervor created by special interest groups like the National Right to Life Committee, Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women and the political arena on abortion laws becomes even more contentious. The truth remains however that political lines must be drawn on the issue of abortion in order to adequately address and assuage the demands of the American people, a task that history has demonstrated is no simple task.
Perhaps the most prolific and groundbreaking event involving the abortion issue was the Supreme Court case of Roe vs. Wade, decided in 1973. The case involved a Texas woman’s desire to have an abortion, however Texas law limited abortions to only those cases that involved the risk of a pregnant woman’s life. Arguments surrounding the case had been heard for two years prior to the Supreme Court’s decision and included the most significant question of whether or not the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution included a woman’s right to privacy concerning abortion, thereby voiding the Texas statute.
The Supreme Court determined by a majority vote that the right to an abortion did in fact fall under the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision gave the American woman the right to an abortion throughout the entirety of her pregnancy and affected changes in the abortion laws of 46 states in regulating abortions in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy. That is, in the decision of Roe vs. Wade, constitutional rights may be regulated and, in effect, the decision held that “a woman's claim to make her own medical choices is strong in the first trimester of pregnancy, moderate in the second, and weak in the third, at which point the state acquires a ‘compelling’ interest in the protection of new life”.