While abortion law is a lot more straightforward and the patterns are obvious, marriage law in the United States is a bit more complicated.
-English common law, and early American law, before the 1820's treated marriages like business mergers. The fathers paid dowries and often arranged marriages for their daughters. In the early 1800's fathers could contract their daughters to marriage as early as age 12 and there was no consent on her part. Boys had to be 14 before they could enter into a marriage contract.
-The age at which a woman could enter into marriage in the mid-nineteenth century varied widely from state to state, and therefore a timeline of laws is very difficult to accomplish.
-Throughout the 19th century and the early 20th century the age at which women could legally marry rose slowly to anywhere from 16-18 years of age by the mid 20th century.
-States differed widely on what rights women had in a marriage. Until 1873 women had absolutely no claim to custody of their children unless proof of abuse of the children was offered and corroborated.
-This is about the time that women began to get property rights as well in some states. The responsibilities that came with these rights, however, were huge and not all states were universal in their protection of a woman's property. If a woman did own anything, she had the legal obligation to use it to support completely any illegitimate children, all of her children from her marriage, her husband, her grandchildren, and her parents. So if any of these people asked her to support them she could not legally refuse.
-Coming into World War I women could not divorce a husband for adultery, even though he could divorce his wife for the ...
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...d so much about the decision, about the issue, and about the legality that reproductive choice makes even more sense to me now than it did originally. I recommend that anyone very interested in the issue of choice read the decision and look into the Griswold case and the issue of Right to Privacy.
"About.com Women's History: Comstock Law." Available online at www.about.com.
"About.com Women's History: Man and Wife" available online at www.about.com
Blackmun, Supreme Court Justice. Majority Decision in the Case of Roe v. Wade.
Delivered January 22, 1973.
"Brief History of the Emergence of the Crime of Rape" available online at
"History of Marriage" available online at www.2-in-2-1
Schwartz, Bernard. A History of the Supreme Court. 1993.
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