Saturday, January 23, 2010

Coat Hangers are for Closets

In 1971, a woman named Norma McCorvey got preggers, but decided she did not want to have the baby. She initially tried to obtain a legal abortion by falsely claiming she was raped (in Texas, where all this went down, abortion was legal only in the case of rape or incest), but the attempt failed because she did not have a police report.

She then decided, under the name Jane Roe, to sue Dallas County, Texas, represented by then district attorney Henry B. Wade. The basis of her suit was that the county was violating her, and other women's, ninth amendment right to privacy by interfering with a decision between an adult and her doctor. The case, dubbed Roe vs. Wade, was first argued in December 1971, re-argued in October 1972, then ended up in front of the Supreme Court. Early in the process, McCorvey/Roe gave birth to a baby girl and gave her up for adoption, but wanted continue with the trial 'for other women'.

The Supreme Court's historic decision was handed down on January 22, 1973. This decision immediately reversed any state bans on access to first-trimester abortions, and on second trimester abortions if it was to save the life of the mother. Personally, I think this is awesome. I'm not some "Yay! Abortions are GREAT!" person, but I do think that grown women should be able to make decisions about their own bodies and children.

In the intervening years, Norma McCorvey has actually become an anti-abortion activist after being baptized first as an Evangelical Christian in 1995, then as a Roman Catholic in 1998. This is her right, and I respect it, although anti-abortion crusaders who haven't adopted or housed at least one foster child piss me off.

Either way, Happy 37th birthday, Roe vs Wade! You're totally my favorite court case ever.


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