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Abortion Case Law for Dummies?

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Anyone out there have a source/site that would serve as a good and objective resource summarizing or analyzing the various Supreme Court decisions related to abortion/reproductive rights since Roe? Am helping out on a term paper and - not being a lawyer myself - don't think that slogging through every page of opinion by every justice from Griswold through Steinberg v. Carhart would be a compelling read or an effective use of time.
post #2 of 7
It will be tough to find 'objective' here. For example, Mr. Checks (see avatar) believes himself to be unbiased, and yet there are those who claim he is not. I would do the opposite: go to the relevant interest group websites, read their biased opinions, and come to your own analysis. As an adjunct prof, I am impressed by papers that do that. As a cop-out, go to a local law school bookseller and look for casenotes on abortion rights. These are little cheat sheets that law students use to get through classes. I think one brand is called 'casenotes,' but I can't remember the others. There are several brands; google something like 'law books, casenotes, study guides, etc'
post #3 of 7
A friend of the RJman used to work on a nonpartisan abortion report in DC that simply reported developments in the abortion debate. They might have a website, name was something simple like "The Abortion Report". No joke.
post #4 of 7
I would take a look at the National Right to Life Website that has a good legislative issues section. Another good group is Life Issues Institute and some of the state right to life groups have good information. Ohio Right to Life in particular has links to all of the relevant Supreme Court decisions that affect this issue, As a disclaimer, I am pro-life and work for a company that raises money for all these groups, thus these are my clients. If you want to be sure that you are getting unbiased analysis, I would also check out the NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice site at and the Planned Parenthood site (largest provider of abortions in the country) at Hope this helps. Good luck with your paper. Bradford
post #5 of 7
Hey Bradford, I was going to invite you to debate this issue, but I see that you are armed, so I'll pass
post #6 of 7
I do not know of such a site. I offer my humble summary: Roe: right to an abortion is a fundamental constitutional right Webster v. Reproductive Health Services: Rhenquist wrote the plurality opinion, stronly criticizing Roe's rigid trimester framework. Planned Parenthood v. Casey: arguably overrules Roe, though the majority claims that that they kept the "essentail holding." The trimester framework was scrapped. Moreover, the opinion (supposedly written largely by Professor Dorf of Columbia, then a law clerk), seemed to move away from a "fundamental right to an aborition" line of reasoning. [As a very interesting side note that could make an entire book is that the Supreme Court seems to have generally shifted away from declaring "fundamental rights" and applying strict scrutiny levels of review. Lawrence v. Texas is yet another example of the Court's reluctance to declare specific fundamental rights, instead resting on a far more general right to make personal decisions, and using a standard of review that is far from easy to identify or apply.] In Casey, then, the Court replaced strict scrutiny with an "undue burden" test. The uninformed talk about Roe as if it were still the consumate case. It is not. Casey is now the essential source of aborition law. What constitutes an undue burden? A 24 hour waiting period is not, though the extra burden on the poor stretches the limits of the doctrine. This is from Casey, overruling City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, Inc. Parental consent for minors is . See Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth, Bellotti v. Baird. Parental notification is not. See H.L. v. Matheson, Bellotti, Ohio v. Akron Center fro Reproductive Health, Hodgson v. Minnesota. (Note a new law just passed by Congress making it illegal to take minors across state borders to get around a state's parental notification doctrine.) Not giving government money for abortion is not an undue burden. Many cases on this. Beal v. Doe, Maher v. Roe, Poelker v. Doe, Harris v. McRae, Williams v. Zabrez, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. Maher v. Roe: Under the spending power, Congress can condition money to hospitals on it not going to fund abortion. Rust: the government could condition receipt of federal funds on not counseling patients on abortion. Dissent said this was an unconstitutional condition, contracting away right to free speech. Because of spousal abuse, spousal notification is an undue burden. The woman thus gets the choice because it is her bodily integrity at stake. (Casey, Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth) Stenberg: A statute cannot ban partial term aboritions w/o "preservation of the health of the mother." Hope this helps.
post #7 of 7
Thread Starter 
An awesome response in a short period of time. Thanks to all.
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