Name: Mariya Cherkashenko
Course: Gender Law
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Roe v. Wade (1973) has been widely criticized on political, moral, and legal grounds. Pro-life activists have mounted massive campaigns against the decision. Many Republican Presidents have promised to appoint Supreme Court Justices who would overrule the decision. Why, then, is the decision still around now, almost 40 years later? What can we learn about gender, law, and politics from the failure of conservatives to overrule Roe? Mitt Romney, Obama’s main contestant for the presidential bid 2012, made no secret of his pro-life stand and his imminent desire to reverse the famous Roe Vs. Wade decision of 1973. Being a republican presidential candidate meant that he had a chance to overturn a decision that a number of previous republican presidents had failed to do. He never quite got the chance but instead faced defeat from Obama, a Pro-choice candidate. This implies that the Roe Vs. Wade might still continue to operate with America reaching an astonishing over-a-million abortions per year to show for it thereby bringing the tally close to 55 million deaths. Roe vs. Wade is really a controversial case in itself but what really made the controversy was the fact that it was passed by a majority of supreme court Judges appointed to the bench by republican presidents (Richard Nixon and Dwight Eisenhower). Out of the Six republican-oriented judges only one, William Rehnquist opposed the decision. It was overwhelmingly won over on a 7 – 2 vote and what is quite worth noting is that one of the judges who voted against it (Byron White) was appointed by a democrat president from a party which supported a pro-choice stand on the issue of abortion. By this time it had become clear that despite a party’s puritan conservative view on issues of national significance they could never write out the judges take on the issue; they never had the final say. This case would illustrate the utter unpredictability of the Supreme Court appointees on their voting trends across their full life terms as Harry Blackmun the judge who tabled the decision would demonstrate. Being a staunch republican upon his appointment to the Supreme Court, he had managed to cement his place as one of the most liberal judges on the bench by the end of his term. As a law professor once said the 1960’s and ‘70’s republican judges could as well be equivalent to their today’s democrat counterparts: liberal. The party has also been criticized as taking a pro-abortion stand itself though not explicitly expressed, but this was implied when you consider that Nixon and others had been toying around with supposed population crisis control strategies. Also the anti-abortion clause was not inserted in the Republican Party platform until 1980, 7 years after Roe vs. Wade. The judges nevertheless, made many landmark decisions that have been sparking controversy to this date and are considered very liberal. Almost 20 years later and the republicans now had a major chance to overturn the Roe vs. Wade decision. It was now in 1992 and the case at hand was the Planned Parenthood vs. Casey. Two pro-Roe judges had retired by now that had made the first decision; Brennan and Marshall and had been replace d with Reagan and Bush appointees both of whom were widely opposed to Roe. By now there were eight republican appointed judges on the bench: William Rehnquist (Nixon), Blackmun (Nixon), John Paul Stevens (Gerald Ford) Sandra Day O’ Connor (Reagan), Antonin Scalia (Reagan), David Souter (George H W Bush) and Clarence Thomas (Bush). There was only a single Democrat, White who had opposed the first Roe decision. Theoretically, what better opportunity to overturn the original mistake made at Roe vs. Wade in 1973? However theory was far from practice. The plaintiff was seeking to nullify the Pennsylvania abortion control act which stipulated a 24 hr waiting period before an abortion, informed...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document