Key Facts– In the 19th Century and into the 20th, many American states adopted and enforced laws restricting or prohibiting abortion. These laws are ultimately considered in their totality by the court here, though the case that specifically gives rise to this decision is an abortion case coming out of Texas.
Issues– Can the states prohibit abortion? If not, can they restrict or regulate it? If they cannot prohibit it, but can restrict or regulate it, what’s the limit?
Holding– No. Yes. The limit is based on weighing the state’s interest in regulation against the privacy right.
Result– Right to abortion established.
Reasoning– An overview of world history shows that abortion has not been a universally reviled phenomenon. In the common law, the history until the 19th Century only shows sanctions for abortion that applied after “quickening,” or first fetal movement. The state has an interest in abortion for safety reasons and for the preservation of pre-natal life, both of which are significant. However, the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, and this must be weighed against the state interest.