Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S, 113 (1973) is the historic Supreme Court decision overturning a Texas interpretation of abortion law and making abortion legal in the United States. The Roe v. Wade decision held that a woman, with her doctor, could choose abortion in earlier months of pregnancy without legal restriction, and with restrictions in later months, based on the right to privacy.
It was decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton. The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state’s interests in regulating abortions: protecting women’s health and protecting the potentiality of human life.
What led to this decision?In 1969, Norma McCorvey, a young lady, unmarried, unemployed and pregnant for the third time sought to have an abortion in Texas, where the procedure was illegal except to save a woman’s life. It was her third pregnancy — after Melissa, her eldest, and another child McCorvey gave up for adoption. The 22-year-old McCorvey, who was then unmarried, had been seeking an abortion but could not find a doctor in Texas who would perform the procedure, which was then illegal except when the life of the mother was endangered.
That brought McCorvey to the attention of the lawyers who would eventually take up her case. Attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee took up McCorvey’s case, and in 1970, they filed a lawsuit. The subsequent lawsuit, known as Roe v. Wade, led to Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling that established abortion rights, though by that time, McCorvey had given birth and given her daughter up for adoption.
The Constitutional Question was: Does the Constitution embrace the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, nullifying the Texas prohibition?
The Court held that a woman’s right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut) protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision gave a woman a right to abortion during the entirety of the pregnancy and defined different levels of state interest for regulating abortion in the second and third trimesters.
After the court ruling
McCorvey lived quietly for several years before revealing herself as Jane Roe in the 1980s. She later admitted that she hadn’t been raped – saying she had only said so in order to speed up her case.
‘I’m a simple woman with a ninth-grade education who wants women not to be harassed or condemned,’ she told the New York Times in 1994. ‘It’s no glamorous thing to go through an abortion. I never had one, but I’ve worked in three clinics and I know.’
McCorvey underwent a conversion, becoming an evangelical Christian and joining the anti-abortion movement. she was baptized before network TV cameras by a most improbable mentor: The Rev. Philip “Flip” Benham, the leader of Operation Rescue, now known as Operation Save America. McCorvey joined the cause and staff of Benham, who had befriended her when the anti-abortion group moved next door to the abortion clinic where she was working. McCorvey also said that her religious conversion led her to give up her lover, Connie Gonzales. She said the relationship turned platonic in the early 1990s and that once she became a Christian she believed homosexuality was wrong.
She recounted her evangelical conversion and stand against abortion in the January 1998 book “Won by Love,” which ends with McCorvey happily involved with Operation Rescue.
McCorvey formed her own group, Roe No More Ministry, in 1997 and traveled around the country speaking out against abortion. In 2005, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge by McCorvey to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
“I’m 100 percent pro-life. I don’t believe in abortion even in an extreme situation. If the woman is impregnated by a rapist, it’s still a child. You’re not to act as your own God,” she told The Associated Press in 1998.
Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, she remained an ardent supporter of abortion rights and worked for a time at a Dallas women’s clinic where abortions were performed.
In May 2009, she was arrested on trespassing charges after joining more than 300 anti-abortion demonstrators when President Barack Obama spoke at the University of Notre Dame. In July 2009, she was among demonstrators arrested for disrupting Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Death of Norma McCorvey, ‘Jane Roe’
Norma McCorvey, died on Saturday, 18th February 2017. She was 69.
McCorvey died at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas, said journalist Joshua Prager, who is working on a book about McCorvey and was with her and her family when she died. He confirmed in a statement to NBC News that she died of heart failure.
While McCorvey died in a country still shaped by the case that bears her pseudonym, the practical realities of abortion access may more closely resemble the country of her youth than she imagined.
In an interview with Fresh Air in the ’90s, McCorvey looked back on her experience as Jane Roe.
“I feel like a role model in one sense of the word,” McCorvey said.
“But when people really stop and really sit down and think about Jane Roe or Norma McCorvey, I feel like any woman who’s ever been denied anything in her whole life is a Jane Roe. Because no woman should have to suffer all the pain and humiliations and indignities that I’ve had to face.”