In 2012 Roe vs. Wade celebrates its 39th anniversary of overturning one of the most controversial verdicts of all time and making abortion legal. Prior to the ruling Texas anti-abortion laws only allowed abortion to be performed legally in the cases of rape and incest. It has changed millions of women’s lives for the better since then. Prior to the legalization thousands died from unsafe illegal abortions.
In June 1969, Norma L. McCorvey became pregnant with her third child. Being an unplanned pregnancy, but unable to obtain a legal abortion, she came up with a plan to claim she was pregnant as the result of rape. She failed at her attempt because she had not filed a police report with regards to a rape. When she tried to obtain an illegal abortion, she found the place where they were said to be performed closed by police. She filed a lawsuit to obtain the right to have an abortion legally.
Jane Roe was an alias used for Norma McCorvey, to remain anonymous during the trial. Henry Wade was the District Attorney of Dallas County. Roe vs. Wade began.
Roe’s attorneys were, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. Coffee continues to practice law in Texas. Weddington was 26 years old when the case was first brought before the Supreme Court. Roe vs. Wade was her first uncontested case. She was the youngest person to win a Supreme Court case at the time.
In 1973, after two years the Supreme Court ruled that a right to privacy under the due process clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution included a woman's decision to have an abortion. It went on to rule that the abortion right must parallel the state's two legitimate interests for regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting the pregnant woman's health. The ruling would allow abortion to be legal up to viability. The Roe decision defined viable as being "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid," adding that viability "is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks."
Due to the length of the trial Norma McCorvey never procured an abortion and went on to deliver a baby girl. The baby was later adopted.
In the 1990’s McCorvey changed her stance on abortion and has worked with the pro life movement and organizations such as Operation Rescue. Operation Rescue does work to put an end to all abortions.
As a party to the original litigation, McCorvey requested that the case be reopened in U.S. District Court in Texas to have Roe v. Wade overturned. In the case of McCorvey v. Hill, her action was denied.
Every year coinciding with Roe vs. Wade celebrations, the anti choice side holds their annual March for Life rallies, protesting abortion.
Every year since the historical decision millions have fought to end abortion. And millions have fought back to keep it legal. We must relentlessly continue the fight to protect the lives of all women. The anti choice groups will never stop, and abortion will never end. We must protect our right to protect each other.
In the words of Justice Harry A. Blackmun “The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.” ~ Roe v. Wade, January 22nd 1973