The Right to Privacy vs. the Equal Protection Clause

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Professor Tagliarina’s lesson last Thursday (13/04) focused on the right to privacy, and, more specifically, the fact the Constitution does not guarantee protections of such. We must question whether this is because the right is unenumerated, or instead a matter of rights are never guaranteed protections, explicitly stated or not. Interestingly, I consider whether the right to privacy surrounding abortion rights should be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment – the Equal Protection Clause.

I am disgusted that a woman’s right to choose is still a controversial topic and one typically old, white men feel they have a foot in. A lot of these men believe they have a “duty” to “protect” women from their decisions by regulating body autonomy. President Trump’s policies threaten equal rights for women and set the United States back hundreds of years by dis empowering more than half of the populace. Seeing as pro-choice arguments for equal protection under the right to privacy doctrine appear vulnerable to attacks, now may be the time for the side to practice the wisdom of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In other words, now may be the time to advocate on the grounds of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Justice Ginsburg, the leader of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, is a passionate critic of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling which created the “tier” framework of abortion. She does not oppose the holding that recognizes a right to an abortion. She opposes the logic of the 1973 court’s majority opinion and the constitutional basis under which seven justices arrived at their conclusion.

And I agree. Even a landmark clause often touted as securing women’s reproductive rights is wholly deceiving. Instead, it protects the doctor’s freedom to practice medicine how they please. If abortion rights were to be recognized under the Equal Protection Clause within the Fourteenth Amendment, women would truly be empowered and free to make the decision whether or not to continue with a pregnancy. Unfortunately, what we have today does little to protect a woman’s right to choose. Any measure which expands gender equality and women’s freedom should be exercised. Until reproductive rights are truly protected, the Constitution fails to recognize women as real people protected by the laws of the land.

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