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Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

Lakewood Times

    Roe v. Wade at 45


    January 22nd, 1973, in a 7-2 decision in the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, abortion was made legal all across the United States. Now 45 years later, we still have controversy surrounding the issue of abortion. But what was the story behind the court case that start it all? Who is ‘Roe’ and why did her case of abortion go all the way to the Supreme Court? And how does this ruling effect today as states try to tighten up abortion laws?

    In June of 1969, 21-year-old Norma McCovey was pregnant with her third child. After years of abuse and after having to give her first two children up—the first to her mother and the second to an adoption agency—McCovey decided to get an abortion on her third child. The issue was she lived in Texas at the time, and the law was you could only have an abortion if a woman was raped or the childbirth would cause serious harm to the mother. McCovey claimed that she was raped to get her abortion legally, but was denied due to the lack of a correlating police report. She tried to get an illegal abortion, but the facility was shut down by police. Not having the funds to travel out-of-state, McCovey did the only thing she could, turning to two interested attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, trying to repeal the Texas law banning abortion. McCovey wanted to stay anonymous during the trial, dawning the name Jane Roe in court. The prosecuting side had Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, and after some appealing in the lower courts, the case Roe v. Wade reached the Supreme Court by 1970.

    The oral arguments were supposed to be heard on December 13th, 1971, but after some issues with the case, the hearing was reargued on October 11th, 1972, almost a full year later. Seven out of the nine Supreme Court justices—Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Steward, Marshall, Blackmun, and Powell—ruled in the favor of Roe, with only White and Rehnquist opposing. The ruling was found using the 14th and 9th amendment, summarized by Blackmun in the majority opinion, “the right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the district court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”

    This ruling made abortion in the first trimester of a pregnancy legal across the nation, losing the laws of 46 states, and was a huge step for feminists in the 1970’s. But in the past decade, we have seen a huge increase in anti-abortion laws that make it harder for woman to get an abortion. In 2011 alone, 92 laws were passed across the country, with 25% of antiabortion laws being passed in the last 5 years. But throughout the last 45 years, no State has been able to make abortion in the first trimester illegal, with nine trying to. Through it all, the ruling of Roe v. Wade has protected a woman’s right to have an abortion—but maybe it’s time to reexamine the issue, focusing on  healthcare issuance coverage, the requirements for clinics, waiting periods; While Roe v. Wade was the first, we as a nation have still have choices to make when it comes to abortion.

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