Roe v. Wade — Supreme Court Decisions on Abortion

Supreme Court, Abortion, Precedent, Roe v. Wade, Doe v. Bolton, ViabilityIn 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down by the Supreme Court of the United States. This decision, with it’s companion case Doe v. Bolton, effectively struck down abortion laws in all 50 states making abortion on demand legal during all 9 months of pregnancy for virtually any reason.

Roe v. Wade is perhaps one of the most infamous court cases in American history.

Because of this sharp change in the legal status of abortion, the Roe v. Wade decision created a backlash and led the pro-life movement to focus it’s efforts on influencing appointments to the Supreme Court for many years.

The effects of Roe and Doe, while still felt today, have been mitigated and modified by the 1992 decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Roe v. Wade gets all the attention, but PP v. Casey really sets the standards for abortion laws today.

Summary of Roe v. Wade

roe v wade abortion decisionIn this case, Jane Roe (her actual name is Norma McCorvey), had wanted an abortion, but was not legally allowed to receive one in her home state of Texas [1].

Roe first attempted to lie and claim she was raped so an exception could be made, but was unsuccessful. She also tried to obtain an abortion illegally, but was unable to do that either [2].

This case declared that placing restrictions on abortion goes against the 9th and 14th amendments and is therefore unconstitutional [3].

The end result of this court case was that the abortion was declared a fundamental right.

While it technically did allow for restrictions on abortion once the fetus becomes viable, this generally does not happen. This is largely because of the judgment in its companion case.

Doe v. Bolton took things a bit further and filled in more details. In Doe, a woman from Georgia woman was denied an abortion because her life was not at risk, and she was not raped [4].

The decision in this case was that it should not solely be up to the clinician to decide if an abortion is justifiable. It was written that reasons for abortion can be related to a variety of factors:

– Physical
– Emotional
– Psychological
– Familial
– The Age of the Woman

As a result of Doe v. Bolton, abortions are now legal throughout all 9 months of the pregnancy, for virtually any reason.

While many people have heard of Roe v. Wade before, many people may be surprised to learn the extent to which it and Doe made abortion so easily available.

Roe v. Wade Criticism

Roe was not only controversial because of it’s effects on abortion, but it also has come under fire by pro-choice legal scholars due to it’s poor legal reasoning. It is seen as an overreach by many on both sides.

In addition to criticism from pro-life and pro-choice scholars, Roe v. Wade has garnered criticism from Supreme Court Justices as well:

“Roe v. Wade … ventured too far in the change it ordered and presented an incomplete justification for its action.”– Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

“I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment” in Roe v. Wade. – Justice Byron White

“This Court’s abortion decisions have … worked a major distortion in the Court’s constitutional jurisprudence …” – Justice Sandra Day O’Connor

Despite being extremely pro-choice, Justice Ginsburg has criticized Roe on multiple occasions.

Who is Jane Roe?

The woman used by abortion advocates to get this case to the Supreme Court never actually had an abortion. Her name is Norma McCorvey and she eventually became pro-life after years of working in the abortion industry. The fact that the poster-child for the legalization of abortion became pro-life has been largely ignored.

What if Roe is Overturned?

It takes a long time for the Supreme Court to overturn its mistakes. It took nearly 60 years to overturn racial segregation upheld by Plessy v. Ferguson, for example.

If Roe v Wade is overturned, the most likely outcome is that the states have to decide the legal status individually.

However, it could happen that the court finds that legal abortion itself violates the constitution and effectively ban it everywhere. Most scholars say that this is unlikely.

Regardless of what happens, a true pro-lifer will continue to do the same things because the law will not entirely end abortion and women will continue to be in need of compassion and help.

Other Supreme Court Cases on Abortion

Doe v. Bolton

Planned Parenthood v. Casey

Gonzales v. Carhart

 

 

 

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References

[1] McCorvey, Norma. (1997). Won by Love. Thomas Nelson, Inc. Publishers, 1997, 241.

[2] Ibid

[3] U.S. Supreme Court. (1973). “Roe v. Wade (No. 70-18) .” Cornell University Law School. U.S. Supreme Court, 22 Jan 1973. Web. 26 Jun 2011. 

[4] U.S. Supreme Court. (1973). “Doe v. Bolton (No. 70-40).” Cornell University Law School. U.S. Supreme Court, 22 Jan 1973. Web. 26 Jun 2011. 

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One thought on “Roe v. Wade — Supreme Court Decisions on Abortion

  1. Death Roe
    A young woman has not a clue,
    That her life is about to be through.
    In what should be the safest place,
    Her life about to be erased.
    500,000 women every year,
    Will have stolen what we hold dear.
    Convicted of living in a womb,
    Now transformed into her tomb.
    America arrogantly lives a lie,
    Sentencing innocent children to die.
    The executioner has no burden of proof,
    Has no interest in hearing the truth.
    Our country is upside down,
    Abortion rampant in every town.
    A little heart beats at 24 days,
    Don’t expect any execution stays.
    Arm and legs torn apart,
    Forever silencing a broken heart.
    Another life about to fade,
    In innocent blood his feet Wade.
    Millions of coffins in a Roe,
    The winds of change need to blow.

    But For 3 Votes…
    I search for the heart of the matter,
    As my heart continues to shatter.
    How can it be,
    That but for three,
    Fifty-five million hearts would beat.
    Instead, our nation in total retreat.
    7-2 was the score,
    The Prince of Darkness shut the door.
    Three votes the other way,
    Millions of children would be alive today.
    America’s character totally polluted,
    Three thousand babies a day executed.
    No judge, jury, or trial,
    What possibly could be more vile?
    Broken in two America needs to be,
    The country at the foot of the tree.
    JESUS, I see a tear in Your eye,
    I look at the carnage and wonder why?
    I truly don’t know what to do,
    I just keep looking at You.
    Is it time for You to disrupt,
    JESUS, I pray You will show up.
    A holy fire needs to be lit,
    Time to stir things up a bit.
    Making people feel comfortable is not my call,
    For the little ones, a watchman on the wall,
    Help me stand and risk being hated,
    The silent holocaust must be abated.

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