Flat White

The forgotten story behind Roe

6 July 2022

10:00 AM

6 July 2022

10:00 AM

After 50 years of federally legalised abortion across the United States, the Supreme Court has struck down the ruling that gave precedent to so many others. Like the tens of millions of unborn babies whose lives were ended prematurely, Roe v. Wade has been terminated, and it certainly will not be going to the gates of heaven. No, for that ruling, the depths of hell await.

So how did we get here, and what happens next?

50 years ago, a woman by the name of Norma McCorvey, better known as Jane Roe, was befriended by two activist lawyers who sought to fully legalise abortion. At the time, McCorvey had fallen pregnant with her third child. She was not financially stable, confused about her sexuality (living sections of her life as a lesbian), and had given up her previous two children, ceding custody of the first to her mother and adopting out the second.

McCorvey was unable to have an abortion in her home State of Texas where it had not been legalised. She was approached by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, who were fresh out of law school. 

When McCorvey was five months pregnant, the two lawyers took her to lunch and drank beers together until McCorvey became a little drunk. During their tipsy conversations, they managed to convince McCorvey to file suit in Texas to challenge the State’s abortion laws. When the case went to the Dallas County District Court, with District Attorney Henry Wade representing the State, McCorvey was asked to sign a one-page affidavit.

This was her sole involvement in the case. McCorvey never attended court.

A panel of three judges ruled in Weddington and Coffee’s favour. The case was appealed by the State and progressed up to the Supreme Court. 

McCorvey’s subsequent participation in both the pro and anti-abortion has been the subject of controversy. At one point, McCorvey stated that her involvement in Roe was the ‘biggest mistake of my life’ but later it came to light that the pro-life movement had paid her at least $450,000 with her quoted as saying, ‘I took their money and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say. If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice.’

Meanwhile in Georgia, Sandra Cano – a mother of three who was also struggling – had become pregnant with her fourth child. In the hope of obtaining custody of her children who were in foster care and filing for divorce, she sought legal aid from Margie Pitts Hames. Hames filed suit to grant Sandra access to an abortion, something Cano had never asked for nor wanted. The documents produced to the court, signed by Cano, did not match Cano’s understanding of events and, in some accounts, Cano claimed she was signing a document pertaining to her custody battle or divorce.

Regardless, Hames filed in the District Court of Georgia where she challenged the law allowing abortions only in cases of sexual assault, severe fetal deformity, or threat to the mother. The panel of three judges found in her favour, determining parts of the State’s abortion laws were unconstitutional. The case, known as Doe v. Bolton, was appealed, and progressed to the Supreme Court.

Akin to McCorvey, Cano never went to court after the initial hearing. She left Georgia and went to Oklahoma in fear that someone would force her to abort her fourth child. 

It should be noted that neither of the two women involved in the cases that formed the basis of abortion law in the United States for 50 years had an abortion. 

When the Supreme Court ruled, they used Doe v. Bolton to form a definition of health as ‘physical, emotional, psychological, and familial’ so as to establish a broad scope to allow abortion to be justified for practically any reason. In the 7-2 ruling to uphold Roe v. Wade, Justice Harry Blackmun ruled that a woman’s choice to have an abortion was covered under a ‘right to privacy’. 

This right to privacy trails back to the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court found certain State restrictions on contraception were unconstitutional, given a ‘right to privacy for married couples that protects their ability to obtain contraception’. In the ruling on this case, Justice William Douglas wrote the Court’s finding was a resultant of ‘penumbras formed by emanations’ from various parts of the Constitution. 

To clarify, a penumbra is defined as either ‘the partially shaded outer region of the shadow cast by an opaque object’ or ‘a peripheral or indeterminate area or group’ while an emanation is defined as ‘something which originates or issues from a source’. So ‘penumbras formed by emanations’ is an indeterminate area formed by something which originated from a source, in this case, the American Constitution, that provided couples the right of privacy to obtain contraception.

This ruling formed the basis for Eisenstaedt v. Baird, which determined this right of privacy extended to unmarried people. And so, in the ruling on Roe v. Wade, Justice Blackmun ruled this right to privacy to obtain contraception was inclusive of the right to an abortion. In some sense, this essentially took abortion to be a form of contraception, which it is not and never should be.

50 years after the 7-2 ruling, the Supreme Court ruled on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and found that the United States Constitution does not confer any right to abortion, and subsequently overruled both Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Roe v. Wade.

And so began a triggering of mass proportions.

Since the ruling, we have seen pro-abortion activists taking to the streets, screaming their lungs out, and engaging in acts of violence. Online, social media has been lit up with people calling for the abolition of the Supreme Court. Some individuals have even called for it to be burned down. TikTok, in particular, has been rife with unhinged lunatics, some posting the addresses of the Supreme Court Justices.

Politicians around the world have spoken out about how this will affect bodily autonomy, and how this ruling removes women’s rights. These included French President Emmanuel Macron, Canadian President Justin Trudeau, and Australian politicians from both the Liberal and Labor Parties, including Tanya Plibersek, Andrew Bragg, and the Minister for Women (but clearly not future generations of women) Katy Gallagher. Similarly, in the media, journalists and political commentators have been livid about the decision. Celebrities have also contributed to the rage, popular musicians in particular bringing it up at their concerts.

But the responses from supporters of abortion are filled with irony and hypocrisy.

Some of those who are chanting ‘my body, my choice’ and demanding bodily autonomy be protected were, just a few months ago, demanding that everyone take a vaccine. Protests are also taking place in Australia to ‘protect abortion rights’ yet the people who attend these protests are likely those who slammed the protests against vaccine mandates.

The raging activists have also called for a ‘sex strike’ in which they have said they will not have sex with any man, including their husbands, until the ruling is reversed. They are finally taking some personal responsibility and not just having casual irresponsible sex. Ironically, this is what those on the pro-life side have been trying to get them to do for years. 

The common complaints are that the Supreme Court is taking away women’s rights, and that the Supreme Court Justices are imposing their religious beliefs on everyone else. Both are false.

The Supreme Court has made a just decision to correct what was clearly an error made by the justices who comprised it 50 years ago, based entirely on law and correct interpretation of the Constitution. The ruling gave power back to the states to legislate on the matter of abortion. So elected representatives will make laws, not the Court (which you would think activists would be happy about). While certain religious beliefs support the decision, it is valid independent of religion.

The activists have also been spreading disinformation, claiming that miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies would be outlawed in the banning of abortions. While it is true that several States have trigger laws in place that are designed to take effect automatically if Roe no longer applies, or that will take effect a short time after the decision to overturn it, these do not imply that ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages will be criminalised.

Each State has exemptions for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies. Both of these circumstances are very different from abortions. Planned Parenthood even state on their website that ‘treating an ectopic pregnancy isn’t the same thing as getting an abortion’ and ‘the medical procedures for abortions are not the same as the medical procedures for an ectopic pregnancy’. This disinformation is likely designed to scare people and put pressure on lawmakers to codify Roe into law.

This decision has been monumental. It is something that pro-lifers have been anticipating for a long time. Whether you like it or not, the Supreme Court has made the right call. A federal ruling founded on a mound of lies is dead. Roe v. Wade has been aborted, and millions of innocent lives will be saved.

Joel Agius is an independent writer. If you would like to read more of his work, you can do so at JJ’s Outlook or check out his new podcast The Agius Hour.

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