Chapter  8:    Abortion

Section 1. Case Presentation


DESCRIPTION: Walmart has discontinued the sale of the morning after pill. They state it was a business decision. Preven, the leading manufacture of the morning after pill will no longer be disturbed do to ethical reasoning of the Walmart Corporation.

For the promotion of emergency birth control procedures such as Preven and Plan B see this site:

For opposition to such measures see this site

The history of abortion in the United States

  • 1859: The American Medical Association (AMA) condemns abortion except as necessary to preserve the life of either the mother or child (?)
  • 1875: Every state in the United States has adopted laws banning abortion.
  • 1916: Margaret Sanger forms the Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) to promote contraception and abortion.
  • 1959: The American Law Institute (ALI) proposes the "Model Penal Code" urging that abortion be performed in licensed hospitals when necessary to preserve the mental or physical health of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.
  • 1965: Griswold v. Connecticut. Supreme Court hands down decision that legalizes contraception and defines the "right to privacy."
  • 1967: Colorado becomes the first state to allow abortion for cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother's life.
  • 1970: Fourteen states were allowing abortion in certain circumstances.
  • 1973: Roe v. Wade. Stating that a constitutional "right to privacy" exists that protects a woman's decision to have an abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes abortion on demand. The Court permits states to outlaw abortions from viability until birth (third trimester) except when necessary to preserve the mother's life or health.
  • 1973: Doe v. Bolton. The Supreme Court defines "health" (of the mother) to include all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial and the woman's age. This basically allows a woman to have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy and for any reason.
  • 1976: Planned Parenthood Association of Central Missouri v. Danforth. A Missouri abortion law, requiring the consent of parents in the case of minors, and husbands in the case of a married woman, is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • 1992: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. This decision outlaws any restrictions that "impose an undue burden" on a woman's "right" to an abortion.
  • 1993: President Bill Clinton signs five executive orders into effect, allowing fetal tissue research and harvesting, RU486 research, abortion counseling in federally funded family planning clinics and abortion services in U.S. military hospitals.
  • 1994: President Clinton signs into law the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act (FACE), which inhibits the first amendment rights of pro-lifers to peacefully protest, demonstrate and provide sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics.
  • 2000: Stenberg v. Carhart. On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court declared that Nebraska's partial birth abortion law unconstitutionally placed an undue burden on a woman's so-called right to a late term abortion.

Abortion cases in the United States Supreme Court

Sample of Cases that involve the Abortion Issue:

A. Parents' rights vis a vis their pregnant daughter(12 years old) threat to life of daughter, refusal on religious grounds and the court rules for daughter

B. RU-486 PILL: the "morning after pill" now being made available.

C. The use of the drug Thalidomide that caused abnormal fetuses and requests for abortions

D. Availability of Pregnancy Tests: 7 to 10 days after fertilization


Proceed to the next section of the chapter by clicking here> next section.

Copyright Philip A. Pecorino 2002. All Rights reserved.

Web Surfer's Caveat: These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. They should be read as such. They are not intended for publication or general distribution.

Return to:                 Table of Contents for the Online Textbook