Ever since it was founded in 1776, America has always had a decent amount of controversial policies, however few topics have brought about such intensely heated debate as the topic of abortion. Politically, the controversy over abortion stems from the crucial 1973 Supreme Court Ruling of Roe v. Wade. Prior to this abortions were illegal unless the life of the mother was at stake. Roe v. Wade opened up the doors of abortion clinics to all women wanting to receive a legal abortion. Debate exists over whether the fetus or the life of the mother takes priority. Overall, polls show that Americans are generally divided in half when it comes to abortion, however percentages vary greatly when even the slightest changes in wording are made to the questions.
I. A Debate Rooted in History.
January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe v. Wade, a challenge to a Texas statute that made it a crime to perform an abortion unless a woman's life was at stake. The case had been filed by "Jane Roe," an unmarried woman who wanted to safely and legally end her pregnancy, and in siding with Roe, the Court struck down the Texas law. In its ruling, the Court recognized for the first time that the constitutional right to privacy "is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court found that a woman's right to decide whether to become a parent deserves the highest level of constitutional protection. The Court also stated that the right to privacy is not absolute and that a state has valid interests in safeguarding maternal health, maintaining medical standards, and protecting potential life (Planned Parenthood). .
Despite the Courtâ€™s judgement, many oppose the ruling of Roe v. Wade, stating that a fetus is life that must be protected. In addition many believe that life becomes human life at the instant of conception (or perhaps shortly after) and that it should be protected under law from that point.