Roe vs. Wade was argued December 11, 1971. It was reargued October 13, 1972 and decided on January 22, 1973. The decision was 7-2. There was an accompanying case of Doe vs. Bolton decided on the same day (of which I will address in detail another time).
Jane Roe, et al. v. Henry Wade, District Attorney of Dallas County
Texas law making it a crime to assist a woman to get an abortion violated her due process rights. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas affirmed in part, reversed in part.
Supreme Court Membership:
Chief Justice: Warren E. Burger
Associate Judges: William O. Douglas,
Blackmun, Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Stewart, Marshall, Powell
Concurrence: Douglas, Stewart and Burger
Dissenting: Byron White and William Rehnquist
In 1969, Norma McCorvey "Jane Roe" got pregnant with her third child. She sought an abortion using the claim that she had been raped as that would have been one way to obtain one legally. Lacking a police report and documentation, she dropped the claim and later admitted she had lied about the rape. She also tried to obtain an illegal abortion but found the facility shut down. She was referred to lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee who filed a suit on her behalf to obtain an abortion legally even though no rape had taken place and her life was not in danger. The process took so long though, Norma ended up giving birth and the baby was adopted.
The Roe vs. Wade decision, in short, was decided based on two premises: a claim to the right of privacy and the belief that the beginning of life could not be determined. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote, "We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."
"3. State criminal abortion laws, like those involved here, that except from criminality only a life-saving procedure on the mother's behalf without regard to the stage of her pregnancy and other interests involved violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman's qualified right to terminate her pregnancy. Though the State cannot override that right, it has legitimate interests in protecting both the pregnant woman's health and the potentiality of human life, each of which interests grows and reaches a "compelling" point at various stages of the woman's approach to term. Pp. 147-164.
(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician. Pp. 163, 164.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health. Pp. 163, 164.
(c) For the stage subsequent to viability the State, in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life, may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother. Pp. 163-164; 164-165.
4. The State may define the term "physician" to mean only a physician currently licensed by the State, and may proscribe any abortion by a person who is not a physician as so defined. P. 165.
Blackmun also stated, "A. The appellee and certain amici argue that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment. In support of this, they outline at length and in detail the well-known facts of fetal development. If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment. The appellant conceded as much on reargument. 51 On the other hand, the appellee conceded on reargument 52 that no case could be cited that holds that a fetus is a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment." Dissenting opinion of Justice William Rehnquist, "The decision here to break pregnancy into three distinct terms and to outline the permissible restrictions the State may impose in each one, for example, partakes more of judicial legislation than it does of a determination of the intent of the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The fact that a majority of the States reflecting, after all, the majority sentiment in those States, have had restrictions on abortions for at least a century is a strong indication, it seems to me, that the asserted right to an abortion is not "so rooted in the traditions and conscience of our people as to be ranked as fundamental," Snyder v. Massachusetts, 291 U.S. 97, 105 (1934). Even today, when society's views on abortion are changing, the very existence of the debate is evidence that the "right" to an abortion is not so universally accepted as the appellant would have us believe.
Dissenting opinion of Justice Byron White: "The Court apparently values the convenience of the pregnant mother more than the continued existence and development of the life or potential life that she carries. Whether or not I might agree with that marshaling of values, I can in no event join the Court's judgment because I find no constitutional warrant for imposing such an order of priorities on the people and legislatures of the States. In a sensitive area such as this, involving as it does issues over which reasonable men may easily and heatedly differ, I cannot accept the Court's exercise of its clear power of choice by interposing a constitutional barrier to state efforts to protect human life and by investing mothers and doctors with the constitutionally protected right to exterminate it."
In conclusion, I will enclose this link if anyone wants to hear the actual audio of the case being argued. It has a transcript that is very easy to read along with the audio. It's about an hour long. http://www.oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_18#argument
The poll found 87 percent of respondents favored laws requiring doctors to tell women about the possible risks of abortion, 71 percent favored parental consent laws, 69 percent favored a 24‑hour waiting period before an abortion, 64 percent favored a ban on partial birth abortion and 50 percent favored a law requiring women seeking abortions to be shown an image of their ultrasound. …the vast majority of Americans oppose abortion after the first trimester, more than 2/3 of poll takers (71 percent) thought abortion should be illegal in the second three months of pregnancy and nearly 90 percent favored making abortion illegal in the third trimester. If Gallup had asked these same poll takers whether they thought Roe v. Wade was a good decision, the majority of them would have probably said “yes.” … 58 percent of Americans [think] Roe v. Wade was a good decision. So how can 71 percent of Americans favor a policy which can’t happen because of ruling 58 percent of Americans think was good? The answer is Americans don’t know Roe."
Well, these are just the facts for now. Discussion will come later. I am technically late for my promised blog for Friday (besides I WAS at my computer for about 2+hours!! I was here!). It's about 35 minutes late but fortunately, I know a great many forgiving individuals read this blog so there probably won't be a huge scolding. Good night for all of my American friends and good morning for all of my friends across the pond! God Bless ya'll! :)