The draft of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that was leaked suggests that the nation's highest court may be poised to repeal the Constitution right to abortion. This would allow individual states to regulate the procedure more or ban it altogether.
WHAT IS 'ROE V. WADE' REFERENCE TO?
Roe v. Wade refers to the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established a constitutional right for abortion in the United States. According to the majority opinion, abortion is legal during the first trimester.
Who WERE ROE and WADE?
Jane Roe was a pseudonym of Norma McCorvey. She was 22 years old, unmarried, and unemployed when she applied for an abortion in Texas. McCorvey had already given birth to a girl when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled her in her favor.
Henry Wade, Texas' district attorney, was Henry Wade. He was responsible for enforcing a Texas law that prohibits abortion except to save a woman's lives. McCorvey sued him when McCorvey sought to have the abortion.
Joshua Prager, a biographer of McCorvey's death, stated that McCorvey earned her living by giving speeches and writing books about both sides of the abortion debate. He also claimed that McCorvey was mentored by both sides. He said that she had mixed feelings about each but was consistent in supporting abortion throughout the first trimester.
WHAT WAS THE COURT ABLE TO DECIDE IN 1973
Plaintiff alleged that Texas law was inconsistent with the Constitution and violated her constitutionally protected right of privacy. The U.S. Supreme Court had to decide whether the Constitution recognized a woman's rights to end her pregnancy through abortion.
What WAS THE PREROE LANDSCAPE IN UNITED STATES?
Roe was passed in 1973. Abortion was legal in four states, and only limited exceptions were allowed in 16 other states. The court's decision nullified all bans in 30 other states because the Constitution overrides state laws. It did however allow states to impose regulations in the second trimester to protect women's health, and to take steps to protect fetal lives in the third trimester.
HOW DID LATER DECISIONS AFFECT ABORTION RIGHTS IN AMERICA?
Blackmun was still with the court in 1992 when it heard Planned Parenthood V. Casey. This case challenged Pennsylvania's abortion laws which included a 24-hour waiting period. Unexpectedly, the conservative-leaning court upheld abortion rights and made it easier for states that they impose regulations.
Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony M. Kennedy, conservative justices, co-authored the main opinion of the court's 5-4 decision. They wrote: "The woman's rights to terminate her pregnancy prior to viability is the central principle in Roe vs. Wade. It is a rule in law and a part of liberty that we cannot abandon.
The ruling was not well received by either side of the abortion debate. The ruling was not well received by either side on the abortion issue. Since then, conservative states have continued to work against abortion rights through laws that have been challenged in court, including a Texas law that prohibits abortions for most after six weeks.
WHAT IS THIS NEW CASE THAT'S POISED TO TOPPLE ROE?
Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. It challenges Mississippi's ban against abortion after 15 weeks.
Roe and Casey allow states to regulate, but not ban, abortions up to the point of fetal viability at approximately 24 weeks. This would be undermined if Casey is upheld. According to the draft, this decision would likely lead to a patchwork abortion laws with some states protecting abortion while others banning it.