The Abortion Case Roe vs Wade

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The Abortion Case: Roe vs. Wade Abstract

Roe vs. Wade is a highly contentious case in American history. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court made a groundbreaking decision to legalize abortion nationwide, declaring null and void a Texas statute that prohibited abortion except when necessary for safeguarding the mother’s life. After more than three decades, individuals across the country continue to either support or challenge this landmark judgment.

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In 1970, certain U.S. states had banned abortion, but Norma Newcomer (also known as Jane Roe) of Texas decided to challenge this law. Newcomer strongly believed that abortion limited a woman’s ability to make choices and violated the Fourteenth Amendment. Additionally, she became pregnant in the summer of 1969 while facing financial struggles after being unemployed from a traveling carnival.

Norma, a 21-year-old woman who had been divorced, had entrusted her five-year-old daughter’s care to her parents. She wanted to terminate her pregnancy but was unable to do so due to the restrictive abortion laws in Texas that only allowed it when the mother’s life was at risk. Norma tried finding a doctor who could perform an illegal abortion but was unsuccessful. Due to financial constraints, she couldn’t afford to travel to a state with more lenient abortion laws. However, her situation improved when she met Sarah Wedding and Linda Coffee, two committed attorneys determined to reform abortion legislation.

Texas enacted an abortion law in 1859 that targeted individuals involved in performing or assisting with the procedure. Women seeking abortions were exempt from punishment under this law, except when it was necessary to safeguard the mother’s life. Furthermore, hospitals risked losing their operating license if they were discovered to endorse illegal abortions on their premises.

Due to the ambiguous nature of Texas abortion laws, many doctors and hospitals chose not to handle most abortion cases in order to avoid harsh penalties. These penalties included potential imprisonment for up to five years and/or loss of their medical license. On May 23, 1970, a woman named Norma Newcomer, also known as “Jane Roe,” filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of all pregnant women across the country. The defendant in this case was Henry B. Wade, the district attorney for Dallas County, Texas. Roe encountered two major obstacles:

Although a pregnant woman lacked the ability to sue for potential violation of constitutionality due to the law’s application limited to medical practice rather than patients, a lawsuit was still filed asserting that the 1859 Texas abortion law infringes upon a woman’s constitutional right to have an abortion. If the woman either gave birth or reached a stage where it became unsafe to perform an abortion, there is a chance that the case could be deemed irrelevant and dismissed (Dawn Stacey M. De, n. D.).

The case revolved around two groups of lawyers: Sarah Wedding and Linda Coffee represented the plaintiff, while John Tolled and Jay Floyd represented the defendant. Tolled’s role was to defend the enforcement of the Texas abortion law, whereas Floyd defended the law itself. The initial presentation of the case took place in Dallas’ Fifth Circuit Court before a panel consisting of three Judges. The plaintiff’s attorneys aimed to obtain a court ruling regarding whether a pregnant woman possessed the right to determine if an abortion was necessary.

The arguments centered on the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments in the Constitution. The Ninth Amendment protects rights that are not specifically mentioned elsewhere in the Constitution, while the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits states from depriving citizens of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. In the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that both amendments safeguard individuals’ right to privacy. As a result, Wedding and Coffee argued that Texas abortion law violated Roe’s right to privacy regarding a woman’s choice to become a mother.

The defendant argued that the fetus has constitutional rights which should be protected and prioritized over a woman’s right to privacy. However, the Judges determined that the Texas law violated Roe’s privacy right as stated in the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments. As a result, they upheld a woman’s freedom to decide whether or not to end her pregnancy. Consequently, the case was elevated to the U.S. Supreme Court for further examination.

Wedding, Coffee, Tootles, and Floyd came before the Supreme Court on December 13, 1971. The case garnered significant attention with the submission of 42 amicus curiae briefs supporting a woman’s right to abortion. Initially, there were seven judges present during the hearing. However, a second argument was arranged when William Rehnquist and Lewis Powell joined as new justices. Ultimately, the case concluded on October 11, 1972.

Justice Harry Blackburn delivered the majority opinion on January 22, 1973, in favor of recognizing the “sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy” (Roe v. Wade, n.d.). The decision acknowledged a woman’s right to consider her pregnancy during the first and following six months of gestation when there is minimal or no possibility for the fetus to survive outside the uterus. Moreover, it confirmed that women have the right to seek an abortion without unnecessary interference from government entities.

The state recognizes the fetus as viable unless there is a danger to the mother’s life or health. The ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court declared state laws limiting women’s access to abortion in the first trimester invalid, causing 19 states to amend their abortion laws and 31 states to have their stringent anti-abortion laws rendered void. Personally, I support the Supreme Court’s decision which empowers women to consult with their doctors and make decisions regarding abortion. Texas has recently made efforts to reverse the regulations set by Roe vs… Wade.

The bill failed to pass because of technical issues just 5 hours after the decision to overturn the Roe vs… Wade judgment. I trust that Roe’s lawyers defended her and all women effectively, and that the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments do safeguard a woman’s privacy rights, particularly regarding motherhood choices. Legalizing abortion eliminates concerns about dangerous “back alley” procedures performed by unscrupulous doctors in poorly-equipped spaces, which can lead to complications without access to proper surgical facilities.

Bibliography Dawn Stacey M. De, L. (n. D.). About Abortion. Retrieved July 18, 2013 from Roe v. Wade, 4. U. (n. D.). Retrieved July 18, 2013 from Roe V. Wade Anti Essays.” Retrieved July 28, 2013, from the World Wide Web:

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The Abortion Case Roe vs Wade. (2018, Feb 09). Retrieved from

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