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Right to Privacy

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Right to privacy is implied by the concept of limited government

The Constitution implies some rights to privacy

  • 3rd Amendment: No quartering of soldiers in peacetime
  • 4th Amendment: Limits on search and seizure
  • 5th Amendment: Due process and self incrimination
  • 9th Amendment: All unspecified rights are delegated to the people

But there is no explicit guarantee of privacy in the Constitution

Aspects or examples of the Right to Privacy

  • Freedom from government intrusion
    • Access to personal information
      • Wiretaps--on when approved by the courts
      • Personal records--right to be kept confidential
  • Home--limits on search and seizure
  • Body--No forced sterilization
  • Right to personal choice
    • Birth control--approved by courts
  • Sexual practices
    • Some acts are prohibited by state laws
    • These laws are rarely enforced
  • Same sex marriage
  • Suicide and euthanasia
    • Some states have laws prohibiting assisted suicide
    • Oregon has a law which allows "death with dignity"


  • Policy prior to the 1920s
    • Abortion was frequently allowed until the "time of quickening"
  • Scientific advancements caused pressure to restrict abortion
    • Better understanding of conception and fetal development
    • Ability to save babies at an earlier date
  • Roe v. Wade (1973)
    • Background--Norma McCorvey
      • Raped and pregnant
      • Adoption difficult because child would be racially mixed
      • Texas law prohibited abortion
      • Lawyers selected her as a test case
  • Decision (7-2)
    • There is a right to privacy
    • 14th Amendment protection doesn’t apply until birth
    • Specific
      • No restrictions in 1st trimester
      • Regulate procedures in 2nd trimester
      • States can ban in 3rd trimester
  • Norma McCorvey today
    • Admitted no rape
    • Works in anti-abortion clinic
  • Aftermath of Roe v. Wade
    • Violence--abortion clinic shootings
    • Political battles
    • Legal battles
  • Recent developments
    • Use of Medicaid funds for abortions prohibited
    • Spouse and parental consent?--spouse no, parental yes
    • Concern about harvesting fetal tissue--research restricted
    • Abortion techniques--battle over "partial birth abortions"
  • The Basic Issue
    • Rights of the fetus vs. Rights of the woman
Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . factpetersen. (2007, October 29). Right to Privacy. Retrieved January 08, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License