A Review of Roe

Roe v. Wade in 1973 has proven to be one of the most controversial decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. A leaked Supreme Court draft has revealed plans to overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling, causing massive controversy and confusion. 


Who was Roe?

According to the Washington Post, Jane Roe, an alias for Norma L. McCorvey, was a pregnant woman who wanted an abortion. In 1969, abortion was legal in Texas only in cases of rape or incest. Because McCorvey’s pregnancy did not legally warrant an abortion, she attempted to have an illegal procedure. McCorvey filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas, claiming that limited access to abortion was unconstitutional.


The Details of the Case

McCorvey was represented by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee in the case against local District Attorney Henry Wade. The U.S District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in favor of McCorvey (Roe) stating that the abortion law violated Roe’s privacy, which was protected in the Ninth Amendment. The Ninth Amendment guarantees “certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people,” which means the government cannot take away the right to privacy, which includes the right to make health desicions. Texas appealed to the Supreme Court as other similar cases developed concerning abortion rights, such as Doe v. Bolton and Planned Parenthood v. Danforth. The Supreme Court ruled that the right to abortion was constitutional because of privacy rights detailed in the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendment, saying “[these rights] are broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether to terminate her pregnancy.” Roe v. Wade established a “trimester framework,” outlining state legislation of when in the pregnancy abortion could be regulated. 


What Does Roe v. Wade Protect? 

If Roe v. Wade were to be overturned, abortion would no longer be protected by law. Individual state legislature would decide whether and when abortions could be legal. However, more than abortion falls under the umbrella of what Roe v. Wade protects. The right to contraception is upheld because of cases like Roe v. Wade. The right to privacy is expansive including the right to marry, raise children, and access to confidential medical treatment.