HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v. Wade - Health Care Is Different

No blog addressing health law should let the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade go by without a mention.  Whether you think the case was a tragedy, wrongly decided, poorly reasoned, a legal masterpiece, a vindication of women's rights, or a major step forward in gender equality, etc., the debate about the case remains as fresh as if it was decided yesterday.  It makes for an interesting contrast with what has happened with other constitutional cases that were ground-breaking, such as Brown v. Board of Education, for example.  The principle that segregated education is inherently unequal and that this principle is inherent in the 14th Amendment, memorialized in Brown is rarely, if ever, questioned today.  Yet the principle that the right to privacy is inherent in the Constitution (although without consensus on exactly where), and includes the right of a woman to have an abortion, continues to engender hot debate.  Both decisions have been criticized as having relied on the wrong things, both involve the treatment of historically disfavored and disenfranchised populations, yet you don't hear criticisms of Brown's basic premise in polite society today.  The correctness of Roe v. Wade, however, remains open to debate at all levels, in all forums.  Why the difference in treatment of two ground-breaking decisions?

There could be many reasons for the different treatment of the two decisions by the general public (some more cynical than others), but one thing that the continuing debate about Roe v. Wade points out is that when proponents of change to our health care system say health care is different than other commodities we buy and sell on the market (even education), they appear to be correct on a number of levels. 


cross-posted on Healthy Interests

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