Running Header: Abortion Roe Vs. Wade and How Abortion Ha changed Abortion is a topic that has always been very controversial. Going back in times the law has changed from abortions being legal, to illegal in 1828, to legal again in 1973. However not all people agree with this. Some believe that an abortion is murder while others do not. This is where the question of when life begins comes into play. If you want to look at it from most religious aspects, people will say that life begins at conception, while others say that life does not begin until birth.
The law has been one of the many who cannot decide when life begins and if abortion is murder or not. Today we are going to discuss a monumental, life changing court case that has changed the life of many women and unborn babies. The court case of Roe Vs Wade was a case that was tried in Austin Texas back in the early 1970’s. Before this court case abortion was illegal in almost every state in the United States.
When women would become pregnant and wanted an abortion they would have to travel to one of the few states where abortion was legal such as New York or California, or even worse they would cross the border into Mexico and end up in some back alley slum with a butcher that would often leave the woman unable to bear children in the future or even worse with an infection that would lead to death. Back in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s abortion was thought to be more dangerous than it was for a woman to carry a fetus until gestation.
With the lack of medicine and antibiotics, performing an abortion had a much higher risk then birth. Today with the modern medicine and technology abortion is not what it once was. When abortion was illegal there were many different way in which women that wanted abortions would obtain them. Over time it had become known that there were many different organizations that would help a pregnant woman with information to go about getting an abortion.
At one time there was even a group of Methodist Ministers, Protestant Ministers, and Jewish Rabbi’s that were members of “The Clergy Consultation Service” which would help women seeking abortions. This group of clergy men had “a belief in the “sanctity of humane life” certainly includes helpfulness and sympathy to the women forced by the present law into criminality. We are mindful that there are doctors who in their wisdom perform therapeutic abortions outside the present legal restrictions.
When a physician performs such an operation, motivated by compassion and concern for the patient and not simply for monetary gain, we do not regard him as a criminal but living by the highest standard of the Hippocratic oath…Therefore, to that end we are establishing a Problem Pregnancy Consultation service, including referral to the best available medical service and aid to women in need. ” (Weddington, 1992, 31). Abortion means allot of different things to many different people and even the laws about abortion have many different meanings depending on how it was read.
Basically there were three different kinds of abortion laws. The first being restrictive, which did not allow abortion for any reason, next was the liberalized. The liberalized law would allow an abortion in the case of rape, incest, fetal deformity, or to save the life or health of the woman. States such as Maryland, Georgia, and Colorado had this type of abortion law, and although it was called liberal it really was not because in order to get an abortion the woman had to fall into one of the above categories and they also had to get written permission from a hospital committee.
Then there was the third kind of law which allowed abortion as a legal alternative to carrying out the pregnancy as long as it was done before fetal movement could be felt. During mid 1970 thru 1972 350,000 women traveled to another state or out of the country to obtain a legal abortion. In 1970 it was written in the Nixon report that illegal abortion was the third highest money maker of organized crime.
The lawsuit of Jan Roe, an unmarried woman who had become pregnant and wanted to terminate the pregnancy with an abortion Vs Henry Wade who was the elected district attorney of Dallas County Texas, the official responsible for law enforcement in that county. Attorney Sarah Weddington and her crew of other attorneys and volunteers asked for their case to be heard before a three judge court, with justification being that their plaintiffs “were alleging the statutes abridged their constitutional rights, and were seeing enforcement of the statutes. (Weddington, 1992, 54) Along with this the facts about the plaintiff were submitted as follows – 1. Plaintiff, Jane Roe, is an unmarried pregnant woman 2. Because of the economic hardships and social stigmas involved in bearing an illegitimate child, Plaintiff wishes to terminate her pregnancy by meant of an operation, generally referred to as an abortion. 3. Plaintiff’s life does not appear to be threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy. 4. Plaintiff [cannot] secure a legal abortion in Dallas County 5.
Plaintiff cannot afford to travel to another jurisdiction where she could secure a legal abortion under safe, clinical conditions. 6. An abortion performed by a competent, licensed physician under hospital or clinic conditions is a safe and simple procedure which presents less danger to the pregnant woman then ordinary childbirth. 7. An abortion performed outside of the clinical setting by unqualified personnel is extremely dangerous and often results in death, maiming, sterility, or serious infection. Weddington, 1992, 55-56) At the same time as Roe Vs Wade was being fought in the courts, Sarah Weddington and her group were also fighting another very similar case known as John Doe & Mary Doe Vs Henry Wade. This case was still to fight to legalize abortions, but just from a different standpoint, where as john and Mary Doe did not want to become pregnant for health reasons and if they did, they wanted to be able to obtain a legal abortion without having the expense of traveling to New York or California to obtain a safe and legal abortion.
The paperwork was submitted, with everything said and done the stack of paper was almost a foot tall. We made copies for all that were involved and were ready to start the court case before the three-judge panel. Sarah would be presenting her side of the testimony and arguments first, with Wade’s attorneys responding second. Sarah presented everything with the judges interrupting and asking questions as she went. By the time that everything was done with it had been over an hour.
The courts took a break and then would hear John Doe & Mary Doe after the break. On June 17th Sarah received a phone call from Linda with good news, the three-judge panel had ruled that anti-abortion law in Texas was unconstitutional as per the ninth amendment, “because they deprived single women and married couples of their right, secured by the Ninth Amendment, to choose not to have children. The opinion of the panel oted that “Freedom to choose in the matter of abortions has been accorded that status of a “fundamental” right in every case. ” (Weddington, 1992, 68)They had won, it was a day of celebration for all women, and however the celebration was dampened when we heard that District Attorney Henry Wade announced that he would continue to prosecute all doctors who performed abortions. It was also announced that District Attorney Henry Wade and his staff of attorneys said that they planned to file an appeal.
At this point we knew that we must continue to a higher court to prevent this ruling from being overturned. Our normal next step would be to appeal at the Circuit Court level, however with the help of District Attorney Henry Wade and his announcement to continue to prosecute any doctors who performed abortions, we were able to skip this step and go directly to the Supreme Court for an appeal. The paperwork was started and everything put into motion for a hearing before the Supreme Court.
Then was the waiting period, we had to sit and wait for the supreme Court to decide which cases it would hear, and with another anti-abortion case sitting out there, we really were not sure which case they would choose if either of them. Then finally the good news came, and the Supreme Court had decided to hear both of the cases. Our case would be going first. Once again all of the facts and evidence were presented to the courts.
While the court case was being heard, the court room was so full that there was a line of people going down the hall and around the corner just trying to get a glimpse of this historic case. Since the District Court had ruled using the Ninth Amendment, we were going to plead the Supreme Court with the First, Fourth, Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, hoping for a win. During the questions Sarah was able to emphasize a few key points before time was up including, “We are not here to advocate abortion. We do not ask this Court to rule that abortion is good or desirable in any particular situation.
We are here to advocate that the decision as to whether or not a particular woman will continue to carry or will terminate a pregnancy is a decision that should be made by the individual, that in fact she has a constitutional right to make that decision for herself, and that the State has shown no interest in [or sufficient legal status to allow] interfering with that decision. ” (Weddington, 1992, 142) So on January 22nd it came to be that the Supreme Court had handed down its decision on the case of Roe V. Wade.
Once again another victory for us, the Supreme Court had ruled in our favor and the anti-abortion laws for all women across the United States were changed and abortion was once again legal. This day marks great victory for some while marking great defeat for others. With many phone calls coming to our office about the news, Sarah was as usual very careful in what she said; her official statement to the press was – “I am pleased because of the impact this decision will have on the lives of many women who in the past have suffered because of the current Texas law.
I am especially pleased that the decision is a solid seven-to-two decision and that it was based on the right of privacy. I feel very humble to be able to represent the class of women affected by this decision and hope their lives will be better for it. ” (Wedddington, 1992, 150) The Court Case of Roe Vs Wade had a lot of meaning to different people, and you can look at it from many different viewpoints. If you want to look at Roe Vs Wade or in all reality abortion, and then mix it into the aspect of religion you will automatically have a very large population that will automatically say it is wrong.
The Catholic faith does not believe in abortion or any means of artificial contraception as it was for many states back in the day before Roe Vs Wade. I personally, although being of the Catholic faith do not agree with their views. However I also do not believe that abortion should be a means of birth control. There are many other options available today to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. However on the other hand I do not feel that you should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term if it had resulted from rape or incest.
In my personal opinion, it would be torture for a woman who has to carry a child to term that was conceived from a bad situation such as rape and incest. Having personally being a woman who was sexually molested, I cannot imagine having to go thru with a nine month pregnancy being reminded day in and day out of what happened. Experiencing something as traumatic as rape or incest can traumatize a woman in so many ways, in which one would need to do whatever is possible to minimize the memories of the experience.
I just cannot understand that someone would insist on making that woman carry out the pregnancy. Also in the case there the health of the mother is in danger or where it can be seen that the baby will be so severely deformed that they will not be able to live a happy and productive life. One must measure the final outcome of an abortion or carry the pregnancy to term and giving the child up for adoption. If the pregnancy will not cause great distress during the pregnancy during or after the birth of the child, and there are other options available, I do not believe in abortion for anyone.
Now if you want to look at things from the view of a woman or couple who are unable to conceive and they see women who are ending pregnancy’s for what may appear to them as no good reason, it can be a very troubling situation also. Again being one of those women who was unable to conceive without the use of fertility drugs and wanting more children that I was ultimately able to have, I would have loved to have the opportunity to help someone thru their pregnancy, to be able to attend doctor’s appointments and see ultrasounds and follow the progress of each of the three trimesters until it came time for the child to be born.