Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade' that the Texas criminal abortion statute, which proscribed all abortions except "for the purpose of saving the life of the mother,' 'violated the constitutional right of privacy. Justice Blackmun, delivering the opinion of the Court, declared that the concepts of personal liberty and restrictions on state action provided by the fourteenth amendment supported a right of privacy "broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."' In a companion case, Doe v. Bolton,' the Court noted several impermissible procedural as well as substantive requirements and held unconstitutional substantial portions of the Georgia abortion statute.

Since prior to Roe and Doe all but four states' had abortion statutes similar to either the Texas or Georgia provisions, the Supreme Court's decisions effectively invalidated existing abortion statutes throughout the nation. In Tennessee this result was emphasized when a federal district court held that the state's provisions,' similar to the Texas statute, were unconstitutional in light of the Roe decision. In response to the void created by Roe and Doe, students in the Legislation seminar of the Vanderbilt University School of Law have prepared the accompanying proposed legislation. Although the provisions of the Act are tailored to Tennessee, they are generally adaptable to the statutory scheme of any state.