Why the Roe v. Wade landmark case is still relevant — Analysis

Even though it has been heard many decades ago, Roe v. Wade lynchpin case on abortion is still a battlefield for US legal wars

Sarah Weddington died on Saturday, the lawyer who argued Roe v. Wade (the 1973 US case that established abortion rights). This Supreme Court ruling is still a landmark in American division.

In 1970, Weddington was only 26 when Linda Coffee and Weddington filed a lawsuit to defend the rights of all Americans in America to end pregnancies. Her health problems caused her death on Sunday. 

Roe v. Wade – the first case in Weddington’s career – is one of the most famous ones ultimately ruled on by the US Supreme Court. It is hailed as a major achievement by pro-choice activists and blasted as an unconstitutional example of “judicial activism” by their opponents.

How does this happen?

Balance of power is a delicate issue in America. Roe V. Wade testified to that. The states were free to decide how abortion was conducted. More conservative states, such as Texas, opted to ban them altogether or in most instances.

The legal team representing ‘Jane Roe’ (a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey) wanted the Texas ban overturned, arguing that a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy was protected under her constitutionally mandated liberty and privacy clauses.

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Henry Wade, the Dallas County District Attorney, represented the state. Wade argued that states had the right to establish medical standards, and to safeguard the lives of unborn babies.

Was it a ruling?

This litigation reached the US Supreme Court. The majority of the court sided with plaintiff and ruled that the right to privacy covered the decision to end a pregnancy. However, the federal judiciary stopped short of saying that women’s rights on the matter were absolute and granted that states could have a say on the treatment of unborn children.

This legal framework separated pregnancy into three twelve-week periods, and gave states greater control over regulating abortions based on their progress.

Further updates to the framework were made by the 1992 case in Planned Parenthood (v. Casey), which introduced a standard for fetal viability that is not dependent on the womb.

Strive to Overturn Roe V. Wade

It is not surprising that attempts to repeal or modify Roe v. Wade were made right after it was passed. Conservative states tried to limit access to abortion clinics by enforcing laws in their respective jurisdictions.

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The landmark 2016 Supreme Court ruling on the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case, for example, forbade Texas from demanding that doctors performing an abortion had a right to admit patients at a local hospital. Justices ruled it put an “undue burden” on the patients.

The court’s composition itself has been subject to the public standoff over Roe v. Wade, with several Republican presidents tying their nominations of judges to their stances on abortion rights.

Donald Trump made it clear during a debate in 2016 with Hillary Clinton that he would put “two or three”Pro-life justices. He stated that he expected Roe V Wade to be overturned. “automatically.”

New anxieties

Although the Supreme Court nominated Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in the Trump era of 2016, the abortion framework still stands. But, there have been concerns about its future. More expressive pro-choice activists have been predicting that the US could at any moment turn into Gilead, the fictional theocratic version of America from the ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ books and TV series.

One source of their fears comes from Texas’ controversial abortion statute known as SB8, which uses an unusual approach towards enforcement of its anti-abortion provisions. It allows private individuals to sue providers for violations – a system that critics compared to issuing bounties on doctors, patients, and third parties involved in abortions. The Supreme Court is yet to rule on the constitutionality of the law, but it didn’t grant an injunction against it.

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Mississippi has another case. They passed a law prohibiting abortions within 15 weeks. This is a notable departure from the 1992 fetus viability standard. It is asking the Supreme Court not to use Roe v. Wade as a framework but instead, create a new one.

What if it’s overturned?

Many conservative US states have restrictive ‘trigger’ abortion laws that would come into force if Roe v. Wade was no longer standing in their way. A few have banned abortions that were in effect before 1973. Liberal states, on the contrary, have corresponding abortion regulations that allow terminations with few if any restrictions and won’t be compelled to change them, whatever the Supreme Court decides.

It’s safe to assume that if Roe v Wade is overturned, existing divisions in the US would only escalate further.

What happened to ‘Jane Roe’

Norma McCorvey, or ‘Jane Roe’, turned into a vocal pro-life activist. After her 2017 death, though, her image as a sinner-repentant was damaged.

This was what she called “her”. “deathbed interview,”McCorvey claimed that she changed her mind after receiving financial support from leaders of the anti-abortion movement.



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