The United States Supreme Court has recognized that a woman’s right to an abortion is constitutionally protected in two ways: as a fundamental right to privacy, and under the Due Process Clause. I propose that there exists a third constitutional protection, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. On the basis of these three independent protections abortion regulation should be viewed with strict scrutiny, a heightened level of review applied by the “compelling governmental interest” and means “narrowly tailored” to that interest for statutes restricting abortion to be deemed constitutional. An analysis of regulations permissible under strict scrutiny will reveal the government’s compelling interests in protecting the life of the mother and in protecting the potential life of the fetus. Medical advancements since 1973 have significantly shortened the second trimester. With a diminishing second trimester the integral point at which compelling governmental interests extend beyond the health of the mother to include potential life is fetal viability. This policy diverges little from established Court precedent and ensures a woman of her constitutional right to abortion, or–at the very least–makes infringing upon that right both illegal and unconstitutional.
Katie Sutton, ’99
Sponsor: Craig Allin