Liberty, not privacy, is the focus of the Court’s abortion debate

To the Editor:

Daniel Koffler’s column calling for a constitutional amendment creating a “right to privacy” to support abortion (11/9) displays remarkable disengagement with women and the courts.

Because it lacks meaningful limits, the right to privacy lacks universal appeal. Not only do our courts, legislatures and people remain deeply divided on the issue of privacy, but many feminists believe the “right to privacy is a right of men ‘to be let alone’ to oppress women one at a time,” in the words of Catherine Mac-Kinnon.

Our founding fathers wisely omitted the “right to privacy” from the Constitution. In a feat of judicial creativity, the Court discerned this right and with it justified the right to abortion. Yet the Court since Roe has de-emphasized “privacy” and refocused on “liberty” as its justification of abortion rights (see Planned Parenthood v. Casey [1992] and Stenberg v. Carhart [2000]).

Koffler somehow hopes that a super-majority of Congress will pass an amendment in favor of a right the Supreme Court has already backed away from.

Marah Stith LAW ’06

Nov. 9, 2005

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