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July 1989

August 1989

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
Roe v. Wade
Supreme Court Decision May Have a Chilling Effect
General Membership Meeting
Councilman Gary Gill on Downtown Heights and Rail Transit
Rosalie Goodman Internship Program
Dialog - Honolulu: How High?
Letter to the Editor: Re: Diamond Head Preservation (Mildred Walston)
Studio threatens vow to preserve Diamond Head (Luci Pfaltzgraff)
LVW Presents
Dialog - "Brain Drain"
Kate Kortschak
1989-90 Roster

Roe v. Wade

Until the Supreme Court handed down the 1972 decision in Roe v Wade, most states placed severe limitations on access to legal abortions. Hawaii was one of only four states which permitted abortions with few legal limitations. And, though some other states had relaxed their laws somewhat, 25 states allowed abortions only if the mother's life needed to be saved.

In a split decision (7-2), the Supreme Court held that criminal abortion laws violated a woman's right to privacy.

Justice Blackmun, writing for the Court's majority, wrote that the right of privacy is found in the "concept of personal liberty" which is protected by the fourteenth Amendment due process clause which states that "No state shall... deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law."

The Court then went on to hold that this fundamental right to privacy included a woman's abortion decision.

However, the Court did conclude that this right to privacy was not absolute, that there were some instances when the right could be abridged -- but only if a state could show a "compelling interest" in invading that right.

Following this line of reasoning, the Court devised a three stage approach to the abortion issue and this approach divided a pregnancy up into trimesters.

At each stage, the right of the woman was balanced with a state's interest. This balancing resulted in the following:

    1. During the first three months of a pregnancy, the abortion decision was a private matter for the mother and a state had no compelling interest at all; thus states could not pass any laws restricting the right to abortion.

    2. During the second trimester, a state's interest started to come into play; states could, if they wanted to, pass laws regulating the abortion procedure "in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health." But, still during this second trimester, the right to an abortion was protected by the right to privacy and could not be denied.

    3. During the last trimester, however, the state's interest became compelling because at this stage a fetus is viable and a state could, if it wanted to, promote its "interest in the potentiality of life." Thus, states could (though they were not required to) pass laws regulating and/or prohibiting abortions during the last three months.

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