Skinner v Oklahoma:How does the right to privacy protect a women’s right to have an abortion or not?

Skinner v Oklahoma

How does the right to privacy protect a women’s right to have an abortion or not?

Skinner v Oklahoma

Oklahoma wanted to make a law, that involved mandatory sterilization for individuals convicted of two or more crimes of “moral turpitude”.   For the first time ever, the court ruled the right to marry was fundamental, and the right of married couples to have children was an extension of this basic right and was important to the survival of the race. This case led to the question, did the constitution also include the right to not have children?

Since than the courts have heard many abortion cases including United States v Vuitch (1971), Roe v Wade (1973) and Doe v Bolton (1973).  By 1971, federal courts across the country had invalidated more than a half a dozen state criminal abortion laws. Many felt the laws,  violated the reproductive freedom of women and were challenged by the ACLU, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, Planned Parenthood, the National Organization for Women, physical activist, law professors, public interest lawyers, and attorneys in private practices.

In January 1973, a court ruled 7-2, that the right to privacy found in the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment was broad enough to include a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. However, even though the courts have declared Abortions safe under the 14th amendment, ” one must also remember that each state also has its own constitution, with rights analogous to their counterparts (Grondelski, 2013, 77 &78)”. The results for each state seem to be mixed.  Some states, such as New Jersey go above and beyond what the federal court, expected. Including paying for an abortion with medicaid.  Some states have avoid creating “state rights” for abortions. In Florida and Mississippi, have used parental consent and parental notification to expand state abortion rights. A total of 12 state supreme courts, have recognized legal abortions in their state constitutions: Alaska, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Tennessee, and Vermont.

Is this a constitutionally valid interpretation of the right to privacy? Why or why not?

The 14th Amendment

No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws

What is Privacy

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath

The right of privacy was not originally mentioned anywhere in the constitution. However, if you look at the other amendments, especially due process of the 14th amendment,  all of these things would factor into the definition of what privacy consist of constitutional wise. So despite what ones belief is on abortions, the courts made an accurate decision because with the definitions and the 14th amendment, a women’s reproductive system would be factored under the constitution.

Ivers, G. (2013). Constitutional law: An introduction [Electronic version]. Retrieved from

(Links to an external site.)

Links to an external site.

Grondelski, John, M. (2013). Abortion Under State Constitutions: A state by Sate Analysis. 39(1). 77-80. Retrieved from:

(Links to an external site.)

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