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Doe v. Bolton

The Issue Should Be Left To The People

Justice White dissented. He felt that the majority's position was that before "the fetus becomes viable, the Constitution . . . values the convenience, whim, or caprice of the putative mother more than the life or potential life of the fetus; the Constitution, therefore, guarantees the right to an abortion as against any state law or policy seeking to protect the fetus from an abortion . . . " White did not support this view. He felt that the Court was simply fashioning a new constitutional right for pregnant women. He believed that the people and legislatures of the states could not now weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus against the impact on the mother. White felt that this was an "improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review." He noted that the Court apparently valued the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life she carried. No constitutional warrant existed for imposing this order of priorities on the people and state legislatures. This is an area where "reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ . . . " White felt a constitutional barrier should not prevent states from protecting human life and the Court should not invest mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to exterminate human life. He felt that the issue should be left to the people and to the political processes.

Justice Rehnquist also dissented. He believed that the compelling-state-interest standard was an inappropriate measure of the constitutionality of state abortion laws.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1973 to 1980Doe v. Bolton - Significance, Health Includes Physical, Emotional, And Psychological Well-being, The Issue Should Be Left To The People