Column: Is turning right on a red light your California birthright? Absolutely not!
The debate over whether states have an obligation to protect the right of a woman to choose to have an abortion during pregnancy remains unresolved despite the Supreme Court’s controversial decision of Roe v. Wade in 1973.
In his dissent for the four dissenting justices, Justice Antonin Scalia called on Congress to enact a constitutional amendment banning most restrictions on abortion. He argued that the Constitution’s ban on a state’s “power over a woman’s property” and on the “privilege of her choosing to have an abortion” meant that states, which like most other nations prohibit abortions, have no compelling governmental interest in restricting it.
At the time of the decision, Scalia said, “There can be no doubt that the Supreme Court, for the first time in our history, has declared procreation an absolute right, a value from which no government can be prohibited.”
The Supreme Court subsequently limited the Roe decision, stating in the case, Doe v. Bolton that states have no compelling interest in protecting a woman’s right to abort her baby until she has reached viability, which can occur as early as 24 weeks. Since Roe v. Wade, however, there has been a debate over whether the U.S. government has a constitutional obligation to protect that right as well as the right not to be forced to fund abortions in other nations that, unlike the U.S., have laws prohibiting abortion.
In the current debate over abortion, the question is whether there should be a limit on the right to choose from a variety of reasons and, if so, how to establish the limit.
Although there has only been one case to raise the issue, Roe v. Wade, it is being argued once again on this week of May in the California Supreme Court in the case of Harris v. Harris.
The majority opinion in the majority opinion, written by Justice Aaron Persky, held that the only reason to ban a woman from choosing an abortion is when that choice causes the death of the life of a child.
The opinion said, “It is hard to conceive of any greater harm or intrusion on a woman’s bodily autonomy and dignity than for a state to compel her to undergo an unwanted abortion.”
In response to the majority opinion, the dissenting opinion, written by Justice Marvin Baxter, said Harris is “wrong to say that Roe is unworkable” and that “the state