Rehnquist on Abortion:

Rust v. Sullivan, 1991

In a case that stung both abortion-rights and First Amendment advocates, Rehnquist defended the government's right to withhold federal funds from health clinics that discuss abortion as a viable option to pregnancy. The suit claimed that these regulations were unconstitutional, as they limited the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights of health providers to discuss health care choices with their patients.

"There is no question but that [the Public Health Service Act's] prohibition is constitutional, since the Government may make a value judgment favoring childbirth over abortion, and implement that judgment by the allocation of public funds," Rehnquist wrote. "…The regulations simply ensure that appropriated funds are not used for activities, including speech, that are outside the federal program's scope."

Roe v. Wade, 1973

Rehnquist dissented in this landmark case on abortion, saying that it did not constitute a violation of 'privacy' as laid out in the Fourth Amendment's protection on unreasonable search and seizure. He wrote:

"A transaction resulting in an operation such as this is not 'private' in the ordinary usage of that word… Nor is the "privacy" that the Court finds here even a distant relative of the freedom from searches and seizures protected by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which the Court has referred to as embodying a right to privacy."

Rehnquist objected to the court's broad-minded reading of the Constitution, arguing that in order to reach its result, the court would have had to find a right that was "apparently completely unknown to the drafters of the Amendment."

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