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Pro-choice or pro-life

Dominador Awiten .

ROE v. Wade is the case in which the United States Supreme Court had sought to resolve a perplexing and consuming issue, but which has not completely settled the controversy concerning abortion even to date. 

The debate continues to conflagrate American society. The fight is denoted to be between “pro-life” versus “pro-choice.”

Such persistence of the controversy, with each of the opposing sides unyielding to, and unaccepting of the plausibility of the opposing argument, erodes the American brand of “justice for all” as the fight becomes more intense, more internecine.

The mystifying expression aptly applies: “You cannot have your cake and eat it, too.”

Previously, there was the precedent in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) that overturned the 1961 ruling in Poe v. Ullman (holding as unripe the challenge against the law that banned the use of contraceptives for lack of actual threat of an injury) and that used as its main holding the dissent in the earlier case. 

In the then dissenting opinion of Justice John Marshal Harlan II (that became the ratio decidendi in Grisworld): “(T)he full scope of the liberty guaranteed by the Due Process Clause cannot be found in or limited by the precise terms of the specific guarantees elsewhere provided in the Constitution. This ‘liberty’ is not a series of isolated points pricked out in terms of the taking of property; the freedom of speech, press, and religion; the right to keep and bear arms in the United States; the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; and so on. It is a rational continuum which, broadly speaking, includes a freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints.”

Thus, came about the right to privacy, understood to be the right to be left alone, which is among the penumbras or emanations of the all-encompassing right to due process.

From this stretched reading of the US Constitution, it was just a matter of time to uphold the right of an individual to the privacy of their personal acts, free from intrusion of government.

Roe v. Wade held as unconstitutional the criminalizing of abortion and provided for gradations from allowable to unallowable abortion. It affirmed a woman’s right to make reproductive choice, but only up to the stage when it may be shown that the fetus is already of viable status.

The Court’s ruling is summarized by Jone Johnson Lewis (a Master in Divinity) in ThoughtCo., as follows: “In the first trimester, the state (that is, government) could treat abortion only as a medical decision, leaving medical judgment to the woman’s physician.

“In the second trimester (before viability), the state’s interest was seen as legitimate when it was protecting the health of the mother.

“After the viability of the fetus (the likely ability of the fetus to survive outside of and separated from the uterus), the potential of human life could be considered as a legitimate state interest. The state could choose to ‘regulate, or even proscribe abortion’ as long as the life and health of the mother was protected.”

Later holdings of the US Supreme Court seemed to pare down the right of reproductive choice, such as the ruling that required parental consent in the case of a minor.

At this time, since in our own Constitution there is the explicit principle in Article II, Section 12 for equal State protection of the life of the mother and the life of the unborn from conception, the US Supreme Court rulings on abortion may not apply, except that the spirit of the case law on the recognition of the privacy of an individual as free from obtrusive governmental action is gradually seeping into our legal system.

Thus, the Supreme Court in its 2014 ruling upheld the validity of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Law of 2012, particularly allowing the universal, free access to contraception and expanded reproductive health education even as it restrained certain provisions in the law that would allow  the Department of Health (DOH) to approve new registrations of contraceptives and the promotion and distribution of the hormonal contraceptive “Implanon” and “Implanon NXT.”

The present administration is bent on implementing the ruling once the Supreme Court will render its final verdict relative to the temporary restraining order.


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TREND MAKER. Mindanao Gold Star Daily was established in 1989 to set ablaze a new meaning & flame to the local newspaper business. Throughout the years it continued its focus and interest in the rural areas & pioneered the growth of countryside journalism.

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