Home > Feminism, History, Human Rights, Politics, Religion, Sexuality > Roe v. Wade Saves Lives and Liberties of Women.

Roe v. Wade Saves Lives and Liberties of Women.

Albert Wynn and Gloria Feldt at the U.S. Supre...

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A woman’s right to choose whether or not she can get an abortion or contraception has risen to the national stage once again in full force. On the federal level, the Republicans are using the budget as a convenient excuse to shove their moral agenda down the nation’s throat. They have put measures in the bill that would de-fund Planned Parenthood, an organization with over 800 locations across the country. Services provided at locations include contraceptives (birth control); emergency contraception; screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing and pregnancy options counseling; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; comprehensive sexuality education, menopause treatments; vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortion.

Planned Parenthood is a vital service geared to maintain women’s health. The cost to the government is 1 billion dollars, a mere pittance to our budget when compared to our military budget, or the huge tax breaks given to billionaire corporations. Since Women’s History Month is upon us, I thought it would be relevant to write about the history of Roe v. Wade, and the impact that it has carried over the last 37 years.

Abortion is not only being challenged on the Federal level; in many states politicians are challenging a woman’s right to choose either by passing legislation that attacks doctors who provide abortion, or the women who seek them. In fact, anti-abortion laws have been in place since 1821, when Connecticut passed the first statue criminalizing abortion. By 1900, every state in the union had abortion legislation in place. Unless pregnancy was induced by rape or incest, abortion was not legal until the landmark decision Roe v. Wade was decided in the Supreme Court in 1973. That decision relied on the “right to privacy” that is provided in the 14th amendment, and struck down state and federal statutes that made abortion illegal as unconstitutional. The court’s decision would later influence the Canadian Supreme Court’s decision to declare that abortion laws unconstitutional in the R. v. Morgentaler case, which was decided in 1988. 

The case came to be in Texas, when Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) became pregnant with her third child in 1969. She tried to get an abortion in Dallas, but could not because abortion was only legal in the afore mentioned circumstance of rape or incest. After the birth of her child, she hired attorneys Linda Coffe and Sarah Weddington, who filed suit in a U.S. district court challenging the abortion laws in Texas. Dallas district attorney Henry Wade was chosen to represent Texas in the suit. Although the district court found in favor of McCorvey, Wade would continue to appeal until the Supreme Court passed their final decision on January 22, 1973 with a 7-2 majority.  

Roe v. Wade is the landmark decision in our country concerning abortion. The decision to declare that due process extends to a woman’s right to choose until the fetus is potentially viable after 24 weeks reshaped national politics. You’re either pro-choice or pro-life, there is no middle ground. Christian right to lifers are so motivated to stop abortion that they are willing to break the law by bombing clinics, terrorizing patients and staff, or brutally murdering doctors that provide abortions. They would rather send women back to the days of involuntary servitude (which by the way, violates the 9th amendment), than allow women to make their own choices concerning what’s best for their own bodies. In their eyes, freedom extends to everyone, unless you’re a woman and pregnant, in which case a woman’s liberty belongs to God.  

Roe v. Wade remains of the utmost importance to a woman’s liberties to this day. Before the decision abortion and most forms of contraception were illegal. If a woman wanted a legal abortion she would either have to declare rape, which McCorvey attempted to do, or go to a “back alley” clinic which would often put many women’s lives at risk. Roe v. Wade allowed clinics to open across the country to not only provide safe abortions, but to provide contraception and other women’s health services. It is vital to women that these clinics stay open. It is of the utmost importance to not only their reproductive health, but their right to privacy as well. I can not state it strong enough; Roe v. Wade made abortion LEGAL. The overzealous attempts by christian conservatives to limit abortions are ILLEGAL. It’s time we recognize that and do something about it; otherwise women’s rights will be set back over 100 years, when women were property, not people.

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