Date of Completion

Fall 12-1-2008

Thesis Advisor(s)

Kristin Kelly

Honors Major

Political Science


American Politics | Legal Studies | Legal Theory | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


With its turbulent and volatile legal evolution, the right to an abortion in the United States still remains a highly contested issue and has developed into one of the most divisive topics within modern legal discourse. By deconstructing the political underpinnings and legal rationale of the right to an abortion through a systematic case law analysis, I will demonstrate that this right has been incrementally destabilized. This instability embedded in abortion jurisprudence has been primarily produced by a combination of textual ambiguity in the case law and judicial ambivalence regarding this complex area of law. In addition, I argue that the use of the largely discredited substantive due process doctrine to ground this contentious right has also contributed to the lack of legal stability. I assert that when these elements culminate in the realm of reproductive privacy the right to terminate a pregnancy becomes increasingly unstable and contested.