On July 3, 1989, a plurality of the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services which, while not overturning Roe v. Wade, shook the foundations of women's constitutional rights of liberty and equality. Three Justices indicated that they believed the trimester system set forth in Roe should be abandoned, while another Justice said that he would explicitly overrule Roe. Webster thus becomes the most recent and most dangerous attack on reproductive rights for women since Roe was decided in 1973. In this paper, we will examine how legal theories of privacy and equal protection have been applied to cases involving women's reproductive freedom. We will assess some of the past and current assaults on women's reproductive freedom. The conclusion will suggest that interpretations of privacy and equal protection have not been adequate to safeguard women's control over their bodies and that an autonomy analysis would achieve better protection of women's reproductive freedom.
Stephanie Ridder & Lisa Woll,
Transforming the Grounds: Autonomy and Reproductive Freedom,
Yale J.L. & Feminism
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol2/iss1/5