Roe's Ragged Remnant: Viability

55 Pages Posted: 30 Oct 2012

See all articles by Mark William Osler

Mark William Osler

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota)

Date Written: 2012


In "Roe's Ragged Fringe," the consequences of one odd choice made in Roe v. Wade are explored. In Roe, the majority chose viability as the threshold at which the state's interest in the fetus became significant enough to allow abortion to be barred. However, it chose a different threshold, birth, as the point at which the unborn child itself gained any rights. This article assails the illogic of choosing two points in time to describe the same essential event. At the very least, personhood rights should attach to the unborn child at viability, as at that point the pregnancy can be terminated without an abortion -- through a live birth. The essential trade-off changes from being between freedom of the mother versus the life of the child, to the cost of the premature birth versus the life of the child; a very different calculus. This article urges that this oddity be corrected, and viability be seen as a crucial threshold not only for the interests of the state, but the interests of the child.

Keywords: constitutional law, Roe v. Wade, abortion, reproductive rights, Right to Life

Suggested Citation

Osler, Mark William, Roe's Ragged Remnant: Viability (2012). Stanford Law & Policy Review, 2013, Forthcoming, U of St. Thomas Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-35, Available at SSRN:

Mark William Osler (Contact Author)

University of St. Thomas - School of Law (Minnesota) ( email )

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