Abortion, Politics, and the Courts: Roe v. Wade and Its Aftermath

By Eva R. Rubin | Go to book overview

3

In the Supreme Court

Courts and Public Policy

The decision in Roe v. Wade was an activist decision, one with enormous potential impact on public policy. Justice White, in dissent, characterized it as "an exercise in raw judicial power" that, "with no constitutional or legal justification, overrode the decisions made for people in the states by their state legislatures." It invalidated traditional state power to make abortion a criminal offense and forced a shift from an older set of accepted state policies on abortion to a legal position more in line with newer currents of public opinion.

Although the decision was framed in terms of traditional principles and precedents, these principles and precedents were clearly being used to make new law. Behind the legal formulae lay issues such as the need for population control, the depletion of natural resources, the changing status of women, and concern about illegitimacy, welfare costs, and child care, which were not openly discussed. Yet the Court was clearly not indifferent to the underlying policy considerations, although it seemed to avoid their discussion as a matter of conscious strategy. Part of the Court's

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Abortion, Politics, and the Courts: Roe v. Wade and Its Aftermath
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American Studies - Series Editor: Robert H. Walker *
  • Abortion, Politics, and the Courts - Roe V. Wade and Its Aftermath *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • Introduction *
  • I - Conflict and Constitutional Decision *
  • 1 - Reformers and Legislatures *
  • 2 - Into the Courts: Litigation for Social Change *
  • 3 - In the Supreme Court *
  • 4 - The Politicization of Abortion *
  • II - Aftermath: the Conflict Restructured *
  • 5 - The State Legislative Response *
  • 6 - On the National Level: Federal Action and Inaction *
  • Afterword *
  • Chronology 1980-1986 *
  • Notes *
  • Selected Bibliography *
  • Index to Cases *
  • Subject Index *
  • About the Author *
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