In June of 1969, Norma L. McCorvey of Texas found herself unexpectedly pregnant, with her third child. In Texas at the time, abortion was only considered legal in cases of rape or incest, so at the advice of her friends she falsely claimed rape in an attempt to abort her unplanned pregnancy.
With no police report, her plan failed, and when she attempted to obtain an illegal abortion, she found police had shut down the site.
Given the alias Jane Roe by her attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Ragle Weddington a lawsuit was filed, and with District attorney of Dallas County, Henry Wade representing Texas, a landmark case was born.
On January 22nd 1973, The US Supreme Court would rule in Jane Roe’s favor citing that denying the woman a right to an abortion violates her 14th amendment right.
Most people are familiar with the facts of Roe V Wade, what it stood for then, and what it stands for now. For me the question I wanted answers to, were where are they now? What happened to the key players in the landmark case? Some of what I found was surprising.
- Henry Wade District Attorney of Dallas County Texas, until Roe v Wade, had never lost a case before. After the loss, he continued to serve fourteen years in office. In 1995, the Henry Wade Juvenile Justice Center was named in his honor. In 2000, Texas Lawyer Magazine named him 1 of 102 most influential lawyers of the 20th century. In 2001, He died of Parkinson’s disease. Over 15 people convicted of crimes during Henry Wade’s term in office have since been exonerated of the charges brought against them.
-Linda Coffee was a classmate of Sarah Ragle Weddington and frequent speaker of women’s rights in Dallas. It was McCorvey who approached Linda Coffee and asked for her legal representation to obtain an abortion. Coffee was a member of the women’s equity action league. The State Bar of Texas says Linda Coffee is not currently eligible to practice law in Texas.
-Sarah Ragle Weddington after winning Roe v Wade won 3 terms in Texas legislature and became assistant to President Jimmy Carter. She went on to put her focus, knowledge and skills into teaching, writing, and lecturing on women’s issues and leadership around the world. She wrote a book called “A question of choice-Guide to women’s resources”.
-And finally, Norma L McCorvey a.k.a Jane Roe never did have the abortion she fought for. The case took three years and the baby was placed up for adoption. She became part of the pro life movement in 1995 and supports making abortion illegal. She is an advocate of operation rescue and was a participant in the pro life demonstration against President Barack Obama in May of 2009, during his commencement speech to the University of Notre Dame graduates.
Happy 38th Anniversary to reproductive choice! Let us fight to continue to safeguard it for all the future generations.