Roe V. Wade Essay

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Roe v. Wade Essay

"The Court today is correct in holding that the right asserted by Jane Roe is embraced within the personal liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. It is evident that the Texas abortion statute infringes that right directly. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine a more complete abridgment of a constitutional freedom than that worked by the inflexible criminal statute now in force in Texas. The question then becomes whether the state interests advanced to justify this abridgment can survive the 'particularly careful scrutiny' that the Fourteenth Amendment here requires. The asserted state interests are protection of the health and safety of the pregnant woman, and protection of the potential future human life within her. But such legislation is not before us, and I think the Court today has thoroughly demonstrated that these state interests cannot constitutionally support the broad abridgment of personal liberty worked by the existing Texas law. Accordingly, I join the Court's opinion holding that that law is invalid under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

On January twenty-second, 1973 Justice Harry Blackmun delivered the opinion of the Supreme Court regarding the Roe vs. Wade case. A pregnant single woman, "Jane Roe," brought a class action lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws, which proscribed procuring or attempting an abortion except on medical advice for the purpose of saving the mother's life. Norma McCorvey, the real name of the plaintiff, was young and divorced at the time, searching for a solution to her unplanned pregnancy. The plaintiff's assertion was that prohibiting abortion at any time before birth violated a woman's constitutional right to privacy. The Supreme Court later agreed with Mrs. McCorvey, justifying the legality of abortion under the fourteenth amendment. A person's right to privacy now extended to choosing an abortion. Although the Court avoided the issue of when life actually begins, abortion became legal under this landmark Supreme Court decision. The debate over the legality of abortion had taken place in America for several decades, and the final decision rendered by Roe vs. Wade resonated among all Americans, influencing society to date.

Norma McCorvey as of 1969 was working as a carnival sideshow barker when she discovered she was pregnant. She was unable to get an abortion in Texas due to the standing state laws that prevented abortions unless the mother's life was directly threatened, or in proven cases of rape or incest. Although many other states carried out abortions (legal and illegal), many times over it was considered a risky proposition at best and incredibly dangerous at worst, depending on the place. Two lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, represented McCorvey (under the alias of "Jane Roe"), filed a suit in the U.S. District Court in Texas, with Dallas County D.A. Henry Wade named as defendant, under the grounds that Texas laws violated the Ninth Amendment. However, Justice William O. Douglas rejected that view; Douglas wrote that, "The Ninth Amendment obviously does not create federally enforceable rights." (according to Supreme Court case Doe v. Bolton [1973]). The court also relied upon a concurring opinion by Justice Arthur Goldberg in the 1965 Supreme Court case of Griswold v. Connecticut, regarding a right to use contraceptives. Therefore, the "Does" had no legal standing to sue.

We must also remember that at the time, even speaking about abortion was considered a taboo, held as immoral in many circles. But yet at the time over 90% of unplanned pregnancies among teenagers resulted in an abortion. It was the American woman's dirty little secret, considered an evil solution by society at large (especially in more rural, religious areas) and at best, kept to hushed conversations, with many women afraid of ostracism and ridicule, as well as the guilt...
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