Paper on Roe v Wade

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Roe v Wade

Roe v. Wade

Have you ever wondered how abortion came to be legal? It was decided in the Supreme Court
case of Roe v. Wade. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was a major landmark in not only the
abortion issue, but also in American government.

In 1970, Norma McCorvey, a single and pregnant woman in Texas wanted to get an abortion.
The state laws of Texas at that time stated that it was illegal to have an abortion in
Texas. Even though the state told her that she could go to one of the four states in which
abortion was legal to have the procedure done, she decided that she could not afford to
travel to another state to receive the procedure. Norma McCorvey decided that she would
sue the state of Texas, claiming that her constitutional rights were being taken from her.
She then changed her name to the pseudonym "Jane Roe" to protect her right of privacy. The
district court found that Roe did have grounds to file the suit against the state of
Texas. They ruled on the grounds that the abortion laws in Texas infringed on the first,
fourth, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth amendments of the constitution. The first amendment
states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the
press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government
for a redress of grievances" (http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html). The fourth
amendment states that, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses,
papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated,
and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation,
and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be
seized" (http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html). The Fifth Amendment states that,

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless
on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land
or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public
danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in
jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness
against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process
of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation
(http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html).

The ninth amendment states that, "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"
(http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html).The fourteenth and the most important in
this case states in Section 1 that,

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the
jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they
reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the
privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State
deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor
deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws
(http://www.house.gov/Constitution/Amend.html ).

It states in the decision of Roe v. Wade that, "The constitution does not define "person"
in so many words" (http://www.tourolaw.edu/patch/Roe/ 18). The amendment discusses
"person" 3 times in it, but it does not indicate that it has any possible pre-natal
relevance; this is what made the abortion issue so hard. The state court ruled in favor of
Roe, but the verdict was not strong enough to change the arrest of abortion doctors in
Texas because the exact part that dealt with the right to privacy could not be decided
upon. Roe and her lawyer, Sarah Weddington, then decided to take the case to the Supreme
Court.

The first hearing of the Supreme Court case Jane Roe V. Henry Wade, district attorney of
Dallas County, took place on December 13, 1971. Sarah Weddington argued a very strong case
for privacy, but again, the direct part of the constitution dealing with her case could
not be pinpointed. The council for Wade, Jay Floyd, never really stated the real basis for
why the Texas laws should be upheld. In fact, neither lawyer had a real idea
constitutionally where they were going to base their arguments. The Supreme Court finally
decided in favor of Roe. Chief Justice Blackmun was chosen as the speaker for the case.
The appointment of Blackmun to the Supreme Court was regarded by the general public as a
terrible decision. The courts were not sure as to how they came to this decision. They
were getting harsh criticism from the media and the lower courts, saying that they had
made their decision based upon pro-choice beliefs of the justices instead of the basis of
abortion rights in the constitution.

The second hearing took place on October 11, 1972. Sarah Weddington still counseled Roe,
but there was a new plaintiff, Robert C. Flowers. At this time Weddinton had efficiently
concluded from where she was going to draw her constitutional points from. While in the
state of Texas, the case helped Weddington in their decision to base their verdict in the
ninth and fourteenth amendments. Knowing that the judges were going to be stricter this
time around, Weddington made sure that she had everything covered. Her opponent, Flowers,
did a lot more work than her previous opponent, Floyd, leaving no room for mistakes. The
justices wanted to be fair and show the lower courts and the media that they were not
making their decision based on pro-choice beliefs, so they did a lot more questioning.
Like the first time the court heard the case, they decided seven to two on Jane Roe's
side. "For the first time, Roe placed women's reproductive choice alongside other
fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, by conferring the
highest degree of constitutional protection - "strict scrutiny" - to choice"
(http://www.reproductive rights.org/crt_roe_jbro.html 1). Justice Blackmun was again
chosen to be the speaker for the court and he decided to base the decision on the right of
privacy which was implied in the first and fourteenth amendments. Blackmun stated in his
decision that, "This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the fourteenth Amendments
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