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Opinion: The Dobbs Decision: Finding a Right to Abortion in the 4th Amendment

By Rebecca Canales--

In a historic decision, the US Supreme Court has ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade and uphold Mississippi's ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case. This decision has significant implications for the future of abortion rights in the United States and raises questions about where in the Constitution the right to choose can be found.

One thing that is clear from the Dobbs decision is that the Court did not find a constitutional right to abortion in the 13th or 14th Amendments, as many abortion rights proponents have argued. However, there is another clause in the Constitution that could provide a basis for protecting the right to choose: the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Fourth Amendment protects individuals' privacy and establishes a right to be free from government intrusion into personal matters. The Supreme Court has interpreted this to include a right to privacy, which has been central to several landmark cases, including Roe v. Wade. The Dobbs decision undermines this right to privacy, but it also raises the question of whether the Fourth Amendment could provide a more secure basis for protecting the right to choose.

In a 1972 case, United States v. Vuitch, the Supreme Court suggested that the Fourth Amendment's protection of privacy could extend to a woman's decision to have an abortion. The Court stated that "one's right to life, liberty, and property, to privacy, and to bodily integrity, is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution." While the Vuitch decision did not directly address the question of a right to abortion, it laid the groundwork for future cases that could expand the scope of Fourth Amendment protections to include reproductive rights.

It is worth noting that the Supreme Court has not explicitly found a right to abortion in the Fourth Amendment. However, given the Court's recognition of a right to privacy and the language of the Fourth Amendment itself, there is a compelling argument to be made that the amendment could be used to protect the right to choose.

In conclusion, while the Dobbs decision is a setback for reproductive rights, it also raises the question of where in the Constitution the right to choose can be found. While the 13th and 14th Amendments have been the focus of much of the debate around abortion rights, the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures could provide a more secure basis for protecting reproductive autonomy. As the fight for reproductive rights continues, it is important to consider all possible avenues for securing these fundamental liberties.

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