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  • Writer's pictureAanya M.

Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade was a major legal decision given on January 22, 1973, in which the United States Supreme Court overturned a Texas state prohibiting abortion, essentially legalizing the practice throughout the United States. The court determined that a woman's right to an abortion was implied in the right to privacy guaranteed by the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Prior to Roe v. Wade, abortion had been outlawed in much of the country since the late 1800s.

Norma McCorvey, a Texas woman in her early twenties, tried to terminate an unwelcome pregnancy in 1969. McCorvey, who grew up in terrible, destitute conditions, had already given birth twice and adopted both children. Abortion was permitted in Texas at the time of McCorvey's pregnancy in 1969, but only to save a woman's life. While American women with the financial means could have abortions by flying to foreign countries where the operation was safe and legal, or by paying a substantial price to a U.S. doctor prepared to perform an abortion in secret, McCorvey and many other women were unable to do so. Some women would even resort to illegal, harmful abortions. After she unsuccessfully tried to get an illegal abortion she was appointed to Texas attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, who were interested in challenging anti-abortion laws. In court documents, McCorvey became known as “Jane Roe.”

In 1970 they filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, where McCorvey lived, on behalf of McCorvey and all other women "who were or could become pregnant and wish to examine all choices." A Texas district court found in June 1970 that the state's abortion prohibition was unconstitutional because it infringed a constitutional right to privacy. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court, by a 7-2 vote, overturned a Texas statute prohibiting abortion, essentially legalizing the operation statewide.

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