The State Legislative Response
After Roe v. Wade was handed down, the Court's decision itself, as has happened many times before, became the focus of political contention. People lined up for or against. It was either a wise decision whose recognition of constitutional rights was long overdue or an unwarranted judicial misreading of the Constitution. The furor was not only about the Constitution; it was not even about the fetus, even though much of the debate centered about the "right to life." In a larger sense the controversy was related to the complex of social issues that abortion seemed to symbolize: the disturbing impact on the American family of changing patterns of family organization, sex, reproductive rights, and the stresses on families caused by rapid social change and technological development. Reaction to the decision made it clear that many matters once considered nonpolitical and private had become charged with political significance.
By deciding the case as it did, the Supreme Court changed the structure of the conflict over abortion policy. As far as abortion was concerned, the quarrel, earlier, had been about the very existence of reproductive rights and whether or not states could constitutionally prohibit all resort to abortion. After Roe v. Wade one point at least was settled—within certain limits reproductive choice was a woman's right. But immediately after the case was