She became pregnant three times, was an advocate for abortion rights, later converted to Catholicism, and made another U-turn on her deathbed. The life of Norma McCorvey, the woman behind it Roe v. calfShe was at times as controversial as the Supreme Court ruling that bore her pseudonym.
Now the groundbreaking verdict that gave American women the right to abortion for almost 50 years appears to be on the verge of being rescinded. A Draft report by Judge Samuel Alito that was leaked to the media would uphold a Mississippi law banning almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The document suggests at least five judges agree.
What was the case that many heralded but others fiercely opposed over the years? Here are some details.
Who were Roe and Wade?
Norma McCorvey requested an abortion in Texas in 1969 when she was five months pregnant with her third child. She was 22 at the time and unmarried. But Texas banned the procedure except to save a mother’s life.
After unsuccessfully attempting to have an illegal abortion, she was introduced to two recent grads from the University of Texas Law School. Sarah Weddington and Linda coffee. In a lawsuit filed on her behalf, they argued that she had a constitutional right to a safe abortion in Texas. Their rights to privacy under the First, Fourth, Ninth and 14th Amendments have been violated, they said.
She became Jane Roe to maintain her anonymity. Her lawsuit was named by Henry Wade, then Dallas County District Attorney.
After the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in their favor, Texas appealed to the US Supreme Court.
What did the Supreme Court decide?
The decision was published on January 22, 1973. Judge Harry A. Blackman wrote the majority opinion, which found in a 7-2 ruling that Texas violated McCorvey’s constitutional right to privacy. Individuals have protected areas, or zones of privacy, which include abortions, the judges noted.
But abortion rights were not absolute. One key was whether a fetus could survive outside a woman’s womb.
Texas law “goes too far,” they said. The decision struck down laws banning abortions before the point at which a fetus can survive.
When is fetal viability?
At the time of the verdict, the so-called fetal viability was around 28 weeks. Since then, medical advances have pushed the point to about 24 weeks.
Roe v. Wade used trimesters to determine when a pregnancy might be regulated. During the first almost no regulations were allowed. The second permitted those intended to protect a woman’s health, while the third permitted prohibitions on abortion except where a mother’s life or health was endangered.
A case from 1992, Planned Parenthood vs Casey, rejected the trimester framework but left the core of Roe v. calf intact.
What abortion restrictions are there?
Since the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade, many states have restricted how and where abortions can be performed. Here are some of those limitations.
According to the Guttmacher Institutea Pro-Choice research organization, 36 states require an abortion to be performed by a licensed physician, 19 states say it must be performed in a hospital, and another 17 require a second physician to be called in at some point.
43 states prohibit abortions after a certain point in a pregnancy. Twenty-one states do not allow late-term abortion.
Other states restrict how an abortion can be funded. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia prohibit the use of state funds except in special circumstances, such as when a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
25 states require a waiting period before an abortion can be performed.
Thirty-seven require some parental involvement in a minor’s decision.
What would be the consequences of Alito’s first draft?
Both Roe v. Wade as well Planned Parenthood vs. Casey repealed and decisions to ban or allow abortion would be returned to the states. Alito argues in his draft that the construct does not prohibit states from regulating abortion. Abortion rights are not rooted in the country’s history or traditions, he says.
What happened to Norma McCorvey?
McCorvey died aged 69 in 2017 at an assisted living center in Katy, Texas.
Throughout her life, she was sent to reform school, married a man she said was abusive, struggled with substance abuse, and became involved with a woman named Connie Gonzales.
As a plaintiff in the landmark abortion case, she was pregnant for the third time. One child was raised by her mother, another was put up for adoption.
She later became an evangelical anti-abortion Christian and even later a Roman Catholic.
In 2009, she was arrested while protesting President Barack Obama’s appearance at the University of Notre Dame and disrupting the Supreme Court nomination hearing for Sonia Sotomayor.
Then, as she lay dying, she made a deathbed confession: She had never fully supported the anti-abortion movement.
In the documentary “AKA Jane Roe” She says of the anti-abortion movement, “I took their money and they put me in front of the camera and they told me what to say, and I would say that.”
The verdict did not allow her to have an abortion. When the decision was made, she had had her child. This little girl was also put up for adoption.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/national-international/who-was-jane-roe-and-what-did-the-landmark-case-decide/3231105/ Who was Jane Roe and what decided the Landmark case? – NBC10 Philadelphia