course logo Written Assignment:
Reproductive Rights—Abortion
due March 7

Answer all the following questions; when referring to the readings, cite properly, including page numbers and a full citation at the end of the assignment.

Weisberg writes, “Social control of women’s reproductive capacity has been a central concern of the women’s movement” (931). Why do you think that the right to a legal abortion has become such a central concern of contemporary feminists? In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruled that the “right of privacy . . . is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy” (Weisberg 956). Explain how the Court used the privacy doctrine to rule that states could not prohibit abortions, at least in the early stages of pregnancy. Many feminist legal theorists have criticized the basis of the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, arguing that equal protection would provide stronger ground than privacy for legalized abortion. Compare and contrast, in some detail, the privacy and equal protection arguments on this issue (you can draw on Blackmun’s opinion in support of the privacy argument, MacKinnon’s article criticizing the privacy argument, and Siegel’s article, which advances an equal protection argument). Explain the pros and cons of each argument as a basis for abortion rights. If you were a lawyer arguing for a woman’s right to choose an abortion, which of these two arguments would you use to support your case? Why?

Daniel McCarthy <>
Barbara F. McManus <>
HON303/WMS303 Topics and Assignments I
February 2000