Roe v. Wade was a lawsuit in which a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling recognized abortion as a constitutional right, over-turning individual states' laws against abortion, becoming the most famous U.S. Supreme Court case decided and one of its landmark decisions.

Table of contents
1 History of the case
2 Supreme Court decision
3 See Also
4 External Links

History of the case

The case originated in Texas in March 1970: A pregnant woman, the pseudonymous Jane Roe, headed a class action lawsuit against the state of Texas's anti-abortion laws, claiming that the laws were unconstitutionally vague and abridged her rights under the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. The trial court denied Jane Doe relief but on appeal the lower court's decision was overturned and finally it was argued in the Supreme Court on December 13, 1971, and then reargued on October 11, 1972. The court issued its opinion on January 22, 1973, with a majority of four, and two concurring and two dissenting.

Supreme Court decision

It was the opinion of the court that the right to an abortion fell under the right to privacy derived from the Fifth Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (the latter extending the protections in the Bill of Rights to state as well as federal action). Justice Harry Blackmun's majority decision holds that "the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified". The right to an abortion is unlimited within the first trimester of pregnancy; under Roe, states can pass laws regulating second- and third-trimester abortions.

In an interesting turn of events, "Jane Roe", whose real name is Norma McCorvey, has become a member of the pro-life movement and is now fighting to make abortion illegal. McCorvey claims she became the "pawn" of two young and ambitious lawyers who were looking for a plaintiff whom they could use to challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion. Using her prerogative as a party to the original litigation, she sought to reopen the case in a U.S. District Court in Texas and have it overturned based on changes in facts which have occurred since the decision, including evidence of emotional and other harm suffered by many women who have had abortions, increased resources for the care of unwanted children, and additional evidence of the humanity of the fetus. On June 19, 2003, Judge David Godbey ruled that the motion was not made within a "reasonable time." McCorvey's lawyer maintains that no time limit exists for such motions, and an appeal seems likely.

Every year on the anniversary of the decision, protesters continue to demonstrate outside the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C.

See Also

External Links