I'm reading the Wikipedia article on Roe v Wade. It says that:

Texas's lawyers had argued that total bans on abortion were justifiable because "life" began at the moment of conception, and therefore its governmental interest in protecting prenatal life applied to all pregnancies regardless of their stage.[6] The Court said that there was no indication that the Constitution's uses of the word "person" were meant to include fetuses, and it rejected Texas's argument that a fetus should be considered a "person" with a legal and constitutional right to life.[5]

[5] - Chemerinsky, Erwin (2019). Constitutional Law: Principles and Policies (6th ed.). New York: Wolters Kluwer. ISBN 978-1-4548-9574-9.
[6] - Nowak, John E.; Rotunda, Ronald D. (2012). Treatise on Constitutional Law: Substance and Procedure (5th ed.). Eagan, Minnesota: West Thomson/Reuters. OCLC 798148265.

but the page says, quoting the same sources, that:

But [the supreme court] also ruled that this right [to having an abortion] is not absolute, and must be balanced against the government's interests in protecting women's health and protecting prenatal life.

Setting aside the question of the pregnant woman's health, what is the basis the court found for the state having a valid interest in fostering pre-natal life when the subject/citizen carrying the fetus can legitimately decide not to develop it into a living person by giving birth?

Possibly related question: How low is the bar for "legitimate government interest"?

  • 1
    The wording the Court used was "its interest in the potentiality of human life", which would probably go back to the related question that there probably isn't a positive definition for determining legitimacy. You could probably either base the interest in the life having a priceless value, or more "rationally" the interest in potential tax revenue, or appeal to the mass and asking random persons in the street if fetus is worthy of protection (if you specify outside the abortion context).
    – xngtng
    Dec 19, 2021 at 14:15
  • @xngtng: 1. "Life having a priceless value" - but the court seems to have determined the fetus isn't a being with that kind of constitutionally-protected life. 2. About the tax revenue potential - I'm not US law expert, but surely government is not allowed to mess around with people's and families' lives to engineer getting more taxes from them, right?
    – einpoklum
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:09
  • Life having a priceless value may lead to the determination that a potential life is valuable in itself, even though it is not constitutionally protected. Legitimate government interests are not constitutionally protected rights.
    – xngtng
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:10
  • 2
    Re: taxes, that's exactly what governments do with their various family friendly tax credits for childcare, education, public health and family planning programs etc. A legitimate government interest is also not irrebuttable; the existence of an interest does not mean there is no bound to government actions, but the interest itself can still be legitimate.
    – xngtng
    Dec 19, 2021 at 15:12
  • "family friendly tax credits" are - again, I would think - justified by the interest in improving the lives of families which are struggling with higher expenses than people with no children - not to increase the number of subjects to make more taxes off of them.
    – einpoklum
    Dec 19, 2021 at 17:17


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