Submission Date


Document Type



Gender & Women’s Studies

Second Department


Faculty Mentor

Rebecca Evans


Presented during the 18th Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 22, 2016 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

Abortion laws have regulated women’s bodies since the beginning of the country. Many people associate regulation with the case of Roe V. Wade in 1973, in which the Supreme Court ruled that states could not outlaw abortion during the first trimester. Roe v. Wade remains controversial to this day as it failed to establish consensus that women’s decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy falls within their constitutional right to privacy. Understanding the implications of this decision is fundamental to analyze the debate over the constitutionality of abortion today. This paper examines the opinion written by Justice Blackmun in Roe v. Wade, examining the reasoning behind his decision as well as the man behind the decision. In addition to examining the pivotal role of Justice Blackmun, this paper looks at the impact his decision had in shaping reproductive freedom in the future. To do this, the paper summarizes previous research on Supreme Court cases post Roe that presented additional arguments on the constitutionality of abortion regulation. In addition, I summarize the results of a previous review of legislation proposed in the 2015-2016 session of Congress that tried to limit women's reproductive freedom through abortion bans, non-accessible health care, and cuts in federal spending towards Planned Parenthood. I additionally summarize the examination of multiple Supreme Court cases regarding the constitutionality of abortion regulation. The paper concludes that many justices and legislators have denied the right to privacy that Justice Blackmun spelled out in Roe, supporting the infringement on women’s rights by preventing women from having abortions or access to contraceptives. I use the Roe decision to examine the constitutionally of the current restrictions being placed on women’s bodies and argue that these laws and regulations against women infringe on their ability to participate equally in society, limiting their rights as citizens.

Open Access

Available to all.