The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History

By Eva R. Rubin | Go to book overview

Amending the Constitution

HUMAN LIFE AMENDMENT

Immediately after the Roe decision was handed down, a number of proposals for constitutional amendments that would reverse the decision were introduced in Congress. Amending the Constitution is a difficult process. Congress may propose amendments by a joint resolution passed by a two-thirds vote in each House. Once the amendment is approved by Congress it goes to the states for ratification. The usual method of ratification requires three-fourths of the state legislatures (thirty-eight states) to vote in favor of the amendment. The Founding Fathers intentionally made the amending process difficult, so that people would have to think carefully about changing the Constitution.

Two proposed "human life" amendments were considered by Congress during 1974 and 1975. One, sponsored by Senator James Buckley, a Conservative/Republican from New York, would have defined the term person in the Fourteenth Amendment to include unborn persons. The Fourteenth Amendment states that "No state . . . shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." In Roe the Supreme Court had held that persons were those who had already been born. Senator Buckley's amendment would define persons more broadly.

Senator Jesse Helms, a Republican from North Carolina, introduced a proposal that would go even further, specifically stating that the unborn were human beings from the moment of conception.

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The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword xix
  • Introduction xxi
  • Part I - Before 1960 1
  • Abortion in Historical Context 3
  • Contraception and Abortion in America Before 1960 10
  • Bibliography 43
  • Part II - The Abortion Reform Movement (1960-1972) 45
  • The Reformers 47
  • Catalysts 68
  • Reform Activity in State Legislatures (1967-1972) 79
  • The Politics of State Legislative Reform (1967-1973) 82
  • Breakthrough in the Courts 89
  • The Abortion Situation Worldwide 100
  • Public Opinion 103
  • Conclusion 107
  • Philosophical Arguments for and Against the Liberalization of Abortion Laws 109
  • Bibliography 116
  • Part III - The 1973 Abortion Cases 117
  • The Law and the Cases 119
  • The Immediate Reaction to the Abortion Decisions 140
  • Bibliography 169
  • Part IV - The Battle Lines Are Drawn (1974-1980) 171
  • State Legislative Action and Judicial Response (1974-1980) 173
  • Amending the Constitution 189
  • Politics and Elections 219
  • Conclusion 223
  • Bibliography 231
  • Part V - The Reagan and Bush Administrations and Beyond (1980- ) 233
  • National Politics 237
  • State Legislation During the 1980s 267
  • New Issues and Problems 273
  • Bibliography 283
  • Epilogue - 1993 and After 285
  • Appendix A - Major Supreme Court Decisions Related to Abortion, 1973-1993 291
  • Appendix B - Chronology of Events in the Abortion Controversy 295
  • Index 303
  • About the Editor 312
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