Roe v. Wade survives another day


Roe v. Wade survives another day after Supreme Court rules on gun and Miranda cases – with more rulings set to come out Friday and NINE cases still to be decided

  • The landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case survived another day
  •  Supreme Court issued four opinion on Thursday and none on abortion rights
  • Tensions high as country awaits ruling
  • More opinions coming on Friday and next week
  • Protesters have been gathering outside the court daily in anticipation
  • VP Harris will meet with state AGs on abortion access issues
  • State attorneys general will be frontline of defense on abortion rights 

The landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case survived another day Thursday as advocates fear the Supreme Court will soon overturn the decision.

Tension over the abortion debate has been high since a majority draft opinion was leaked that overturned Roe. The final decision is expected by the end of the court’s term, which is next week. 

The high court dropped opinions on both Tuesday and Thursday this week but none were on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the case that will decide the future of abortion rights in the country. More opinions are expected on Friday and next week. 

Four opinions were released on Thursday and there are nine left to release this term. 

On Thursday, the court stuck down a New York law that required ‘proper-cause’ to carry a concelaed weapon, a ruling that could result in an increase in the number of guns in public places. It also ruled law enforcement officers can´t be sued when they violate the rights of criminal suspects by failing to provide the familiar Miranda warning before questioning them. 

The landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade has survived another day - the Supreme Court is expected to issue more rulings on Friday

The landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade has survived another day – the Supreme Court is expected to issue more rulings on Friday

There are 18 states that have near-total bans on their books, while four more have time-limit band and four others are likely to pass new bans if Roe is overturned

There are 18 states that have near-total bans on their books, while four more have time-limit band and four others are likely to pass new bans if Roe is overturned

In a signal that the Biden administration is at least preparing for bad news, Vice President Kamala Harris is set to hold an event with state attorneys general Thursday afternoon on their ‘efforts protecting reproductive health care access.’

The meeting with the seven Democratic attorneys general will be to discuss the defense to the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, should the high court strike down Roe, a White House official told Reuters. 

Harris has taken the lead for President Joe Biden’s administration on defending abortion and reproductive rights. 

‘We must be ready to stand as a united front when the decision comes down,’ Harris told a group of reproductive rights leaders Wednesday in a videoconference. 

If the Court does strike down Roe, the administration will be forced to rely on law enforcement, potential executive actions, and other measures to try to ensure access to abortion rights in states that have been whittling away at the practice for years.

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with state attorney generals on Thursday  to talk defense should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal in this country

Vice President Kamala Harris will meet with state attorney generals on Thursday  to talk defense should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that made abortion legal in this country

The meeting with Harris will be attended by the attorneys general of Wisconsin, Nevada, Illinois, California, Delaware, New York and Washington state.

State attorney generals will likely be the front line of defense should abortion be outlawed. They are the top legal officers in their states and could bring additional lawsuits regarding reproductive rights. 

Biden is a lifelong Catholic who was opposed to Roe in the early days of his career and has only later come to embrace abortion rights. He was critical of the leaked draft opinion.

Protesters on both sides of the contentious issue have been gathering outside the court daily during the final days of the court’s term, which usually ends in late June.

The building is surrounded by a tall fence that went up after the draft leaked last month.

The political debate on abortion reignited last month when Politico published a draft majority opinion that showed Roe v. Wade being struck down. In it, conservative Justice Samuel Alito writes: ‘Roe was egregiously wrong from the start’ and must be overturned.

If judges haven’t switched their positions since Alito authored the draft, it would result in the overturning of the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which provides for abortion rights.

Currently, there are 18 states that have near-total bans on abortion already on the books are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming. 

On the other side of the spectrum, 16 states and the District of Columbia have laws that protect a person’s right to an abortion. 

With public attention focusing on the court, where conservatives hold a 6-3 majority, Congress passed legislation to provide security protection to justices, after an armed man was arrested outside Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s home. 

Fencing has gone up around the Supreme Court and the justices have faced increased threats

Fencing has gone up around the Supreme Court and the justices have faced increased threats

The Supreme Court: Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

 The Supreme Court: Seated from left are Associate Justice Samuel Alito, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Standing from left are Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 - ten years after the Supreme Court decision

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 – ten years after the Supreme Court decision 

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.

The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.

Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.

So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.

Supreme Court Decision

The Supreme Court handed down the watershed 7-2 decision that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice to have an abortion, is protected under the 14th Amendment.

In particular, that the Due Process Clause of the the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental ‘right to privacy’ that protects a woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).

Impact

Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.

McCorvey became a born again Christian in 1995 and started advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017

McCorvey became a born again Christian in 1995 and started advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017 

However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.

One such was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)

Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe. 

McCorvey became a leading, outspoken pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.

However, she performed an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.

In 2003, a she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 ruling with the U.S. district court in Dallas. 

The motion moved through the courts until it was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court in 2005.

McCorvey died at an assisted living home in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.

Shelley Lynn Thornton (Baby Roe) 

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)  gave birth to Shelley Lynn Thornton in Dallas in 1970 – a year before the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade case was filed. Shelley was the single mother’s third pregnancy. She gave her up for adoption the day after giving birth, then continued fighting for the right to abortion afterwards. 

Shelley’s identity became public last year. She waived her right to anonymity, speaking out in multiple interviews about the landmark case. 

She says that Norma used her for ‘publicity’, only trying to make contact with her when she was a teenager and for the wrong reasons. 

‘It became apparent to me really quickly that the only reason why she wanted to reach out to me and find me was because she wanted to use me for publicity. She didn’t deserve to meet me. She never did anything in her life to get that privilege back.

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, has spoken out for the first time on camera. Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose landmark lawsuit Roe vs Wade won women across America the right to have abortions

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, has spoken out for the first time on camera. Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose landmark lawsuit Roe vs Wade won women across America the right to have abortions

‘She never expressed genuine feeling for me or genuine remorse for doing the things that she did, saying the things that she did over and over and over again,’ Shelley said last year.

Shelley has refused to say whether or not she agrees with abortion, for fear of weaponized by either side of the debate. 

‘A lot of people didn’t know I existed. It doesn’t revolve around me, I wasn’t the one who created this law. I’m not the one who created this movement. I had nothing to do with it. I was just a little itty-bitty thing and, you know, circumstances prevailed.

‘My whole thinking is that, ‘oh God everybody is going to hate me because everyone is going to blame me for abortion being legal.’

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