Roe v. Wade
Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade: What is the 1973 case that made abortion legal in the United States, and made it a part of law?

3 mins read

Unveiling of a draught Supreme Court ruling shows a majority of justices ready to overturn Roe v. Wade, destroying nearly 50 years of constitutional protections for abortion rights.

Here’s the original 1973 court case.

Privacy rights

Abortion was granted constitutional protection on January 22, 1973. “Jane Roe” was Norma McCorvey, a single mother who requested an abortion. She sued Dallas’s attorney general, Henry Wade, over a Texas legislation that made abortion illegal save in circumstances of rape, incest, or risk to the mother’s life.

Texas doctor James Hallford joined her in claiming the law’s medical provision was ambiguous and he couldn’t reliably determine which of his patients were allowed. Also, the “Does,” a childless couple, filed a companion case, claiming medical concerns made it risky but not life-threatening for the wife to bring a pregnancy to term.

Complaints from a lady seeking an abortion, a doctor seeking to perform them, and a non-pregnant woman seeking the right to do so reached the nation’s highest court. When Republican President Richard Nixon was re-elected in November 1972, the court heard arguments twice.

‘Emotional and sensitive’ debate

In January of the following year, it ruled 7-2, invalidating the Texas rules and established a legal precedent that has impacted all 50 states.

This is a sensitive and emotional issue, with strong competing opinions, even among physicians, and profound and seemingly absolute convictions, according to Justice Harry Blackmun, writing for the majority. However, he asserted that a woman’s “right to privacy… encompasses her decision to terminate her pregnancy.”

In the case, the court found that a state criminal abortion statute like the one in Texas that exempts only lifesaving procedures for the mother from criminality regardless of pregnancy stage and other interests violated the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause. It ruled that the right to privacy regarding pregnancy “is not total and is subject to some constraints.”

At some point, governmental interests in health, medical standards and prenatal life take precedence, Blackmun wrote. The Supreme Court sided with Jane Roe, a pro-life campaigner, and against the doctor and the Does. State restrictions on abortion rights for late-term pregnancies were allowed by the Supreme Court in “Doe v. Bolton,” which was handed down on the same day.

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