Abortion in America


Roe v Wade is the second most common example to find in an essay on the Supreme Court…and it drives us nuts! It is a landmark case, but it is also over 40 years old and your essays really need to be brought up to date.

This week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would outlaw abortion, across America, after 20 weeks.The Pain Capable Unborn Child Act would restrict abortions almost completely after 20 weeks. The revised bill has some exclusions for women who are victims of rape. This example is great as it can be used in many different way – one example for many topics! NOTE: This has only passed the HoR, not the Senate. It is therefore not law yet.

Firstly, an example of party policies, as many of the GOP (Republicans) opposed this bill as they fear it will lose them women voters. Worth remembering that women vote in greater numbers for the Democrats as a rule, so this is unlikely to make women favour Republicans. Hillary Clinton has already passed comment on this so keep your eye on the invisible primary as this may play out as an issue in these.

It is also useful for the presidency as Obama has said he will veto it if it passes the Senate. This would be his fourth veto and is clearly meant to deter the passage of the legislation – an example therefore of the use of the threat of the veto as a power. In the same breath however, the fact that Obama is having to threaten this could be an example of his lack of power over the, now Republican-dominated, Congress. Yet his ability to veto suggests he is not a lame duck.

Pressure groups, unsurprisingly, also got heavily involved in this bill, with groups like the Planned Parenthood Federation of America passing comment in this article. Useful evidence therefore for Unit 3 topic on pressure groups.

It is obviously a useful example for Congress. The bill is seen to be largely symbolic by the HoR as it is expected that Senate Democrats will defeat it – which underlines the equality that the two houses have in their main job of passing legislation. Both articles extensively talk about the leadership in both houses as well, and this provides useful evidence for the importance of leadership in Congress.

This could also be used for the federalism topic as 10 states already have a law prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, but obviously, therefore, others do not. This could be argued to be ‘big government’ at work, attempting to rule over state sovereignty.

Finally, it can be used in a Supreme Court essay. This can be seen as Congress making headway in trying to place its own limits on Roe v Wade.Notably, reducing the limit to 20 weeks is much lower than “the Supreme Court’s standard of fetal viability, which is generally put at 22 to 24 weeks after fertilization.” This could be seen as Congress checking the Supreme Court through the key power they have – legislation.