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Letters to the Editor

Right to Privacy?

The media attention surrounding the Supreme Court nominees has found the phrase “right to privacy” thrown around a lot. But what is this “right to privacy”? According to Richard Glenn, author of “The Right to Privacy,” it is “the right of the individual to be free from unwanted and unwarranted governmental intrusion in matters affecting fundamental rights.”

In the 1973 case of Roe v. Wade, the justices applied this reasoning to deny the state the ability to limit abortion. Yet this right is only applicable if there is no third-party who can also claim to have his or her rights protected. The justices in this decision acknowledged this and said that since there was a “wide divergence of thinking” on the issue of when life began, they would not decide the matter. Furthermore, the justices said that “if this suggestion of personhood is established … the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [Fourteenth] Amendment.”

Science may now be able to provide that answer. With advances in medical technology showing key developments very early in life — a brain and spinal cord as early as three weeks, a heartbeat at four weeks, and fingers at six weeks — the legal status of unborn children needs to be reconsidered.

Peter J. Mulligan ’08