Could Abortion Really Be Outlawed in Mississippi?

December 2, 2011

Political Theory


I have recently learned about Mississippi’s attempts to outlaw abortion as well as the use of contraception within their state. Due to the ruling of Roe v. Wade, you would think that this is illegal for the state of Mississippi to do, right? Wrong.

Roe v. Wade did indeed give people throughout the nation the constitutional right to an abortion. Roe v. Wade considered abortion to be a negative right and determined that the government cannot prevent a woman’s choice for an abortion because it creates an undue burden. Though Roe v. Wade ruled that abortion is a fundamental right, another Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey ruled that it is not. Casey reaffirmed the essential holding of Roe but it also allowed states to place restrictions that would regulate abortions. These restrictions would be the states attempt to make it much more difficult for a women to receive an abortion. Restrictions on abortions include wait periods and the necessity of parental consent as well as spousal notification.

In 2006, there had been protests over the last abortion clinic in the state of Mississippi. By shutting down the last abortion clinic in Mississippi, abortion would no longer be accessible within the state. It was shocking for me to realize that the ruling of Casey had basically allowed the states to in a way shut down abortion clinics by their regulations. Through watching the film “The Last Abortion Clinic,” I was able to see the intense protests that went on around the clinics. People would be shouting verses from the Bible and strongly discouraging women from their abortion consultations. The state’s regulations and the pro-life protests directly outside of the clinics discouraged women from seeking abortions and in turn decreased the traffic within the clinics. By decreasing the traffic within clinics, the clinics would have no other choice but to close their practice.

Despite certain oppositions to the protests, Mills would support the people protesting pro-abortion outside of clinics. Mills believed in the freedom of speech and objected to the use of censorship. He would believe that the protesters would assist the women seeking abortions to figure out their own truths by lettings them know what all of their options are.

On the other hand, the women seeking the abortions could possibly use the Dirty Hands argument to justify their abortion. Women that are typically seeking abortion are either not mentally or economically prepared to have children. The women can argue that they had the abortion out of the best interest of society. They can say that if they were to have their children, the children would only burden society because they would not have been able to support them on their own.

Today Mississippi is still adamantly trying to not allow abortions. Mississippi’s most recent attempt in November was to pass a Personhood Amendment. If this amendment had been passed, it would have ultimately outlawed abortion and emergency contraception such as the pill known as Plan B. Though this amendment did not pass, I find it interesting to know that despite the fact that abortion is a constitutional right, states still have the authority to create regulations for these abortions.

What are your thoughts on our constitutional right to an abortion and how states have the right to regulate abortions? Do you believe that any philosophers would agree or disagree with the right of the states to regulate abortion?

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3 Comments on “Could Abortion Really Be Outlawed in Mississippi?”

  1. emmaknev Says:

    I think that Tocqueville would disapprove of the state’s action in restricting abortion. Abortion is something that is considered a civil concern, and therefore, the government should not interfere with it. It is a private decision that each woman has the right to make on her own, and should have the option of doing so. I disagree with Mississippi’s actions in shutting down the abortion clinics indirectly. And while Mills would agree that protesters should not be silenced, I also think that there should be as equal of a voice from pro-life people. I agree that debate is healthy for society, but a debate cannot be one sided.

  2. alexwillard Says:

    Well I can’t surmise what Mill, Locke, Hobbes would think about abortions in particular. I do think you correctly used some of the philosophical arguments we encountered in the class. But I have to disagree with you in regards to abortion being truly an issue of dirty hands strictly for pro-choice. For the record I am pro-choice and I completely agree with the argument you make as to some people may not be prepared to have a child so they get an abortion for the greater good of not being able to raise children properly. But I could easily see some conservative pro-life supporters claiming that the issue of dirty hands shouldn’t be this. Instead they could possibly argue that the issue of dirty hands is raising a child in a bad economic environment for the greater good of that child possibly succeeding even given his/her rough start. Overall though I thought this was an interesting post.

  3. kaitlinlapka Says:

    Interesting post. I was not aware of this issue and I find it very shocking. How could there be no abortion clinics in the state of Mississippi? How unfair to not give women the option in my opinion. I also thought you made an interesting argument to the concept of dirty hands and abortion. That is not something I would have thought of. It is true that women could say that by getting an abortion they would be benefitting society by helping eliminate the problem of people who cannot adequately take care of their children. Also, this would be more economically feasible for society who wouldn’t have to support these children with their taxes. However, I see it as a bit of a theoretical stretch, and the counter argument above me is strong. Because it is human life, abortion could be seen as simply dirty hands because women getting abortions are benefitting themselves, not allowing children to live and grow up to their full potential, or be taken care of by somebody else who wants them. Good post, different from the typical abortion post I was expecting.

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