Roe vs Wade Case


The Roe vs Wade judgement in United States of America in 1973 granted women the right to an abortion before the foetus is viable outside the womb, or before the 24-28 week mark. This judgement established a right of the woman to her own body.

However, the Supreme Court of United States overruled the right to abortion which was a constitutional right on June 24, 2022. 

This has polarised opinions across the globe and including the USA. Individual states will now consider the right to abortion, which have been available to women for almost two generations.

According to the Gutt Macher Institute, out of 50 at least 26 states are certain or likely to ban abortion and in about 14 states, the ban comes into effect quickly.

Origin of Roe vs Wade case

There have been two stages of Roe vs Wade case. First was in 1969 and second was in 1973. Norma McCovrvey, a Texas woman in 1969 challenged Texas abortion laws under alias Jane Roe. Abortions were banned in Texas unless they could be performed to save a mother’s life. The case was rejected because the district attorney in Dallas defended the anti-abortion statute.

When Ms McCovrvey filed the case in the court, she was pregnant with her third child and she also claimed that she had been raped. However, the case was dismissed and she was forced to give birth.

The case was appealed in the US Supreme Court in 1973, where she argued that abortion laws in Georgia and Texas went against the constitution of USA as they violates a woman’s right to privacy. Abortion was accepted as a constitutional right in America by Supreme Court. According to the Supreme Court, abortion would also be legal after the point of foetal viability.

Foetal viability is the point at which a foetus can survive outside the womb, which at a time was considered to be around 28 weeks. However, in today’s time, it is closer to 23 or 24 weeks owing to advances in medicine.

The Supreme Court decided two crucial issues in the case. First being that the Constitution of the Unites States provides a fundamental “right to privacy” that safeguards an individual’s right to choose whether to have an abortion or not; and second being that the abortion rights are not absolute. It must be balanced against the government’s interests in safeguarding prenatal life and health.

What is Roe v Wade and how does it affect abortion rights in the US? | Roe  v Wade | The Guardian

The Case Judgement Overruled

The US Supreme Court has 9 judges of whom 6 were appointed by the Republican Presidents. Former President Donald Trump, a republican had campaigned to overturn abortion rights during his four years. Three justices were appointed by him: Neil Gorsuch in 2017, Brett Kavanaugh in 2018, and Amy Conry Barrett in 2020. The appointment helped the Supreme Court in gaining a 6-3 consecutive majority.

What is the Point of Judgement?

According to the Guttmacher Institute, years of research have shown that ban on abortions severely impact the people of marginalized sections who already struggled to access the healthcare including the abortion.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, the judgement represents a major setback for sexual and reproductive health across America. “A staggering 45 per cent of all abortions around the globe are unsafe, making the procedure a leading cause of maternal death.” recorded by the United Nations Popular Funds and the World Health Organization. The UNFPA is concerned that “more unsafe abortions will occur around the globe if access becomes more restricted.”

Women’s rights organisations have slammed the new judgement calling it a “horrifying decision with devastating consequences.” Activists are concerned that the verdict could have a dominiel effect on other rights such as contraception, and same sex marriage.

Roe v. Wade | Summary, Origins, & Influence | Britannica

What happens after this?

13 states have trigger bands in place which means that abortions are banned under most cases and will be fully implemented with the overturning of the judgement. Woman who seek an abortion have to travel to states where it is legal, making it an expensive proposition and inaccessible to all.

I recognise that Roe has flaws, though I do not agree with the Supreme Court on what those flaws are. In fact, mistrust and hostility towards a woman is nothing new. It dominates Justice Byron White's contrary opinion in Roe v Wade, in which he offers his reasons for terminating a pregnancy as "convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, and so on. He expresses his different opinion with the court’s disregard for the efforts of states’ to “protect human life” and rather “investing mothers and doctors with a constitutionally protected right to exterminate it.”

We might conclude that the lives of the women forced to bear unwanted children had no bearing on these judgements. There are odd digressions, such as one about how the definition of foetal viability changes when a community has a top-notch NCU, but the message is clear that “a woman must be legally prohibited from killing the person inside her.”


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