A leaked draft of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling suggests that the nation’s highest court may be on the verge of overturning the constitutional right to abortion, allowing individual states to more heavily regulate or even deregulate. prohibit the procedure.
What “Roe v. Wade” is he referring to?
Roe v. Wade is the name of the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 United States Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion recognized an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Who were Roe and Wade?
Jane Roe was the pseudonym of Norma McCorvey, who was 22, single, unemployed and pregnant for the third time in 1969 when she sought an abortion in Texas. By the time the United States Supreme Court ruled in her favor, McCorvey had given birth to a daughter whom she had placed for adoption.
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Henry Wade was the district attorney for Dallas County, Texas. It was his job to enforce a state law prohibiting abortion except to save a woman’s life, so he was the person McCorvey sued when she requested the abortion.
After her death, biographer Joshua Prager said that McCorvey made a living giving speeches and writing books on both sides of the abortion debate and was driven by both sides. She had conflicting feelings about each, he said, but was consistent on one point: supporting first-trimester abortion.
What did the court decide in 1973?
The plaintiff alleged that the Texas law was unconstitutionally vague and violated her constitutionally protected right to privacy. The question before the United States Supreme Court was: Does the Constitution recognize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion?
Judge Harry Blackmun gave the opinion for the majority 7-2, concluding that it was indeed the case – although this protection had to be weighed against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and “the potential of human life”. The conservative-leaning court said a woman’s decision to have an abortion in the first three months of pregnancy should be left to her and her doctor.
What was the pre-Roe landscape like in the United States?
During Roe’s time, abortion was widely legal in only four states and permitted in limited circumstances in 16 others. Constitutional rights trump state laws, so the court’s decision struck down bans in the remaining 30 states. But it has allowed states to impose certain regulations during the second trimester to protect the woman’s health and to take measures to protect fetal life in the third trimester.
How have subsequent rulings changed abortion rights in America?
Blackmun was still in court in 1992 when he heard Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a challenge to Pennsylvania abortion laws that included a 24-hour waiting period. The conservative-leaning court unexpectedly upheld abortion rights, while making it easier for states to impose regulations.
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Three conservative justices — Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter — co-wrote the court’s leading opinion in the 5-4 decision, writing, “A woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy before viability is the most central tenet of Roe vs. Wade. It is a rule of law and a component of freedom that we cannot give up.″
None of the parties on the abortion issue were happy with the decision. Since then, conservative states have curtailed abortion rights with laws that have spawned numerous other legal challenges, including a recent Texas law that bans most abortions after about six weeks.
What is this new case that is about to topple Roe?
Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. He is challenging Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.
Maintaining this ban would undermine both Roe and Casey, which allow states to regulate — but not ban — abortion up to the point of fetal viability, at around 24 weeks. The decision, according to the draft, would likely result in a patchwork of abortion laws, with some states protecting abortion and others outright banning it.