Roe Vs. Wade – Student Thoughts + Opinions

Episode 1 – History + Legacy

Abortion rights are still being protested in and around the world.

Abortion rights are still being protested in and around the world.

Almost 50 years ago, on January 22, 1973, Roe vs. Wade took place in the Supreme Court, which legalized abortions throughout the nation. Now, nearly five decades later, the Supreme Court overturned that ban, allowing for states to decide whether or not they let a woman choose her own fate.

Before the 19th century, abortions were mostly legalized throughout the United States. People would sell pills that would terminate the pregnancy, but people started to get weary when it was announced that the pills could be fatal to the woman, but they were still being sold and bought.

The American Medical Association began calling for the criminalization of abortions in the late 1850s. The Catholic Church then banned abortions, followed by Congress passing the Comstock law: a law making it illegal to sell abortion-inducing drugs. By the 1880s, abortions were banned throughout most of the United States.

Enter Norma McCorvey. McCorvey was a woman who greatly disagreed with the abortion ban. She had gone through 2 pregnancies already, but had to give them up for adoption since she wasn’t financially stable enough to take care of them.

She teamed up with Texas attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington to challenge the state’s abortion laws.

They agreed that McCorvey’s document name would be Jane Roe.

Enter Henry Wade. Wade was a district attorney for Dallas County, Texas. He was against abortions, agreeing with the state’s ban. When a Texas court, however, ruled in 1970 that the state’s abortion ban was unconstitutional, Wade said he’d still prosecute doctors who performed abortions.

As the case was being picked up by the Supreme Court, McCorvey had another child and put them up for adoption.

In a 7-2 decision, on January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that an abortion was implied in the right of privacy under the 14th Amendment. This ruling, however, would not last forever.

In 1992, in the court case Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania vs. Casey, the Supreme Court upheld Roe v. Wade, but allowed the states to implement more restrictions (as long as they didn’t ban it).

However, in the 2022 Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Mississippi law banning most abortions after 15 weeks of conception.

In one decision, the Supreme Court put our country 50 years into the past.