What is Roe v Wade?
In the year 1969, a 25-year-old single woman namely Norma McCorvey using the alias “Jane Roe”, challenged the criminal abortion laws in Texas state.
The state banned or prohibited abortion as unconstitutional, except in cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
Defending the anti-abortion law was Henry Wade – the district attorney for Dallas County – hence Roe v Wade.
When Ms McCorvey filed the case, she was pregnant with her third child. She claimed that she had been raped. But the case was rejected and she was forced to give birth to her third child.
In 1973, Ms McCorvey’s appeal made it to the US Supreme Court, where her case was heard alongside that of a 20-year-old Georgia woman, Sandra Bensing.
They argued that abortion laws in Texas and Georgia went against the US Constitution because they disobeyed a woman’s right to privacy.
By a vote of 7 – 2, the court justices ruled that governments lacked the power to ban abortions.
The government judged that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy was protected by the US constitution.
What happens if Roe v Wade is overturned?
The Supreme Court has judged in favour of Mississippi Law Or ban on abortions after 15 weeks.
If Roe v Wade is overturned, it has effectively terminated the constitutional right to an abortion for millions of US women.
But, Individual states are now able to ban the procedure again if they want.
Half of the states in the US are expected to introduce new restrictions or bans on Abortion laws.
Thirteen have already passed so-called trigger laws that will automatically ban abortion following the Supreme Court’s ruling. A number of others are likely to pass new restrictions very soon.
There are nine judges on the Supreme Court, six of whom were appointed by Republican presidents.
A draft opinion from one of these – Judge Samuel Alito – was leaked in May 2022. It contained the comment that the Roe v Wade judgement is “egregiously wrong”.
What regulations on abortion had already been introduced by the Government?
Even before the US Supreme Court’s latest order, anti-abortion campaigners had been retrieving some ground.
In 1980, the Supreme court supported a law that banned the use of federal funds for abortion except when necessary to save a woman or mother’s life.
Then in 1989, it allowed states to prohibit abortions from being carried out in state clinics, or by state employees.
The biggest impact came from the top court’s ruling in Planned Parenthood v Casey in 1992.
It said states could restrict abortions even in the first trimester for non-medical reasons.
As a result, many states already have restrictions in places, such as requirements that young pregnant women involve their parents or a judge in their abortion decision.
Other states already have waiting periods between the time a woman first visits an abortion clinic and the actual procedure.
As a result, many women are having to travel further to get abortions, often across state borders, and they are having to pay more for them.
How did Roe vs Wade Judgement change women’s rights?
The case created the “trimester” system as allowing:
- An absolute right to an abortion in the first three months or trimester of pregnancy
- Some government regulations in the second trimester of pregnancy
- States to restrict or ban abortions in the last trimester of pregnancy as the foetus nears the point where it could live outside the womb.
Roe v Wade also established that in the final trimester, a woman can obtain or accept an abortion despite any legal ban only if doctors certify it is necessary to save her life or health.
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