The Supreme Court's Roe V. Wade Opinion Wasn't Just About Women

Justice Harry BlackmunFormer Chief Justice Harry Blackmun

Photo: Wikipedia

The U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade is widely regarded as a huge victory for women’s rights.But former Justice Harry Blackmun’s opinion actually emphasises the rights of doctors even more than women’s freedoms, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin writes.

Blackmun was the top lawyer at Minnesota’s famed Mayo Clinic before he became chief justice. In Roe v. Wade, the chief seemed to be tipping his hat to his former colleagues, Toobin says.

The decision mentioned the word “physician” 48 times and “woman” only 44 times.

In Roe v. Wade, the high court ruled that the right to privacy implicitly guaranteed by the Constitution also gives women the right to an abortion in most cases.

It also implied the government shouldn’t interfere with a doctor’s right to help a woman make that decision. From the opinion, courtesy of Toobin:

“The attending physician, in consultation with his patient, is free to determine, without regulation by the State, that, in his medical judgment, the patient’s pregnancy should be terminated.”

Read Toobin’s piece for a full analysis of how the high court’s views on abortion have evolved since then >

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