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POLS 105G: American Constitutional Law: Abortion

This guide will help you find information about the United States Constitution and its amendments, including primary sources.

U.S. Supreme Court Overturns Roe v. Wade

The case decided on June 24, 2022 by the U.S. Supreme Court that led to the reversal of the constitutional right to abortion is titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization:

 

 

To read the original document containing this decision, click hereFor access to other past Supreme Court decisions, go to their website and select the "Opinions of the Court" page. Previous cases on abortion include:

 

For a broader perspective on how the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Constitution has affected American's personal lives, take a look at this article from the Congressional Research Service: Privacy Rights Under the Constitution: Procreation, Child Rearing, Contraception, Marriage, and Sexual Activity. 

Books and E-books

For more books on the abortion debate, search SpartaCat, the Library's online catalog. If you're in the Library and would like to browse the book collection, go to these call number areas:

  • HQ 767 = Social, political, and religious aspects
  • KF 3771 = Legal aspects
  • RG 734 = Medical aspects

The titles listed below are just a small sample of many books in the Library about abortion, birth control, reproductive rights, and other women's issues. If you need help finding information, be sure to ask a Librarian!

 

NEW Books in the NCC Library Collection!

Relevant Websites

Abortion is a very contentious issue, with philosophical and religious components in addition to the legal aspects that have been the focus of recent media coverage. When visiting any website sponsored by an advocacy organization, be prepared to sort through the information they're presenting with their biases in mind. Truly thorough research requires investigating multiple sides of any topic, and collecting data from a variety of sources.

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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) -- An organization of lawyers and others who work in the courts, legislatures, and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. Abortion and reproductive freedom are just two of the many civil rights issues the ACLU works on. For a timeline of U.S. Supreme Court decisions on abortion that the ACLU has been involved in, click here.

Americans United for Life -- A pro-life advocacy organization that supports legislation and court cases whose goal is to eliminate abortion.

Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) -- You may be surprised to learn that the CDC works on other health issues besides COVID-19! In addition to collecting data about diseases, the CDC also keeps track of a variety of other medical conditions and procedures. Visit this page for statistics on the number and types of abortions performed, going back to 1980.

Guttmacher Institute -- A research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights worldwide. Visit this site for statistics, infographics, articles, and videos about abortion, birth control, and other reproductive health issues.

Ms. magazine -- Since its launch in 1971, Ms. magazine has documented and supported feminist causes, including access to abortion and birth control.

NARAL Pro-Choice America -- Originally founded as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, NARAL works to protect reproductive freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave, and protection against pregnancy discrimination.

NRLC National Right-to-Life Committee -- Founded in 1968, National Right-to-Life is the nation's oldest and largest pro-life organization, encompassing 50 state right-to-life affiliates and more than 3,000 local chapters. Through education and legislation, NRLC's goal is to "restore legal protection to the most defenseless members of our society, who are threatened by abortion, infanticide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia."

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services -- Federal government agency that oversees health insurance-related programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, as well as other government entities having to do with health and medicine. Visit this site for information about reproductive rights under federal law, and funding available to support women's health care.

Online Videos

Films on Demand provides access to a wide variety of current and historical documentary films, interviews, and news programs. The titles below are just a selection to get you started. Be sure to visit the database yourself and search for more videos!   

 

Abortion: Ancient and Modern -- This documentary explores the ethical, legal, and religious dimensions of the abortion debate. It explains that in ancient times, the dangers of abortion for women were compared with the dangers of war for men, and little changed for thousands of years. Advances in medical technology have given us a window on the world of the womb as never before, but they have also raised critical questions about personhood, viability, selective abortion, and embryology.

Anti-Abortion Camp -- Stacey Dooley travels to California to meet Survivors, one of America's most extreme anti-abortion groups. Learning alongside them in the classroom, before witnessing them preach their pro-life message to both the public and mothers-to-be, can they persuade Stacey to join their controversial campaign?

Justice Harry A. Blackmun: Man of the Middle -- An in-depth look at the late U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade, the case that granted women constitutional protection for abortion. Blackmun outlines a typical day in the Supreme Court, explains his own definition of what the court’s role is in the life of Americans, and examines the issue of privacy, a word and concept not mentioned in the Constitution. In addition, Blackmun discusses the emotional and moral challenge of interpreting the Constitution today.

PBS NewsHour segment on states working to restrict abortion -- Judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court has many abortion rights advocates worried that the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is in imminent peril. In many places the rollback of access is already steadily progressing. Amna Nawaz reports from South Dakota, one of four states that would immediately ban all abortions if Roe were overturned.

Right to Live, Right to Die -- Gloria Steinem, Joseph Califano, Rep. Henry Hyde, Phil Donahue, and others discuss the right to make intensely individual decisions about dying, abortion, personal freedom and privacy.