Clip: Sandra Day O’Connor’s Views on Abortion “Evolved”

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In the much-anticipated 1992 decision for Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor broke with then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and cast the deciding vote in reaffirming Roe v. Wade. But O’Connor’s decision in a previous case a decade earlier shows just how differently things could have turned out for women’s rights.

In this clip from the documentary In Search of the Constitution, Bill speaks with O’Connor four years after her controversial dissent in a 1983 case that also dealt with a woman’s right to choose. At the time, O’Connor wrote that she believed “the state’s interest in protecting human life exists throughout the pregnancy.” Some legal scholars believed that her dissent provided the intellectual basis for ultimately overturning the right to an abortion. But it was not meant to be.

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  • Chris Allen

    I find it telling that Justice O’Connor held to the viewpoint that her *personal* opinions were inevitably trumped by the demands to evaluate each case—it’s facts, precedents, justice, and how the Constitution applied—because for many of our current justices, they seem to prefer promoting their own beliefs over those very criteria.

    How times have changed.