Roe Versus Wade, Revisited
By Deanna Spingola
5 July 2005

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Would it surprise you to learn that Norma McCorvey, alias Jane Roe never had an abortion? Yet the Supreme Court Case, Roe versus Wade legalized abortion for all fifty states. Prior to that case, abortion was not under the jurisdiction of the federal government but was the responsibility of each state. This watershed event and the circumstances that led up to it forever changed the political and cultural landscape. The Republicans appeared antagonistic to this ruling but the Democrats, favoring the more liberal, but questionable, stance as the party of the poor and downtrodden saw this as an opportunity to strengthen themselves as well as their faltering party.

Norma McCorvey, raised in a small town in Texas, might be considered akin to trailer park trash by some. People with limited resources or poor role models have limited opportunities and often make unwise choices. Although she had been pregnant three times, she had never sought an abortion. Her first out-of-wedlock baby was born when Norma was seventeen. She allowed her mother to raise this child. Her second child was placed for adoption. In March 1970, she was again pregnant and was literally recruited by two young female lawyers for what eventually became a class-action lawsuit with Norma as the lead plaintiff. Attorneys  Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee were members of the women’s movement in Austin, Texas. This was Weddington’s first real case. Prior to the case she had been unable to obtain a job with any of the local law firms.

Norma alleges that they mislead her into thinking that she could get an abortion through their intervention. According to Norma, her attorneys coerced her into signing a document that they could use for their own law-changing agenda against the state of Texas. Norma, who was not politically motivated, just wanted an abortion. Her liberal lawyers questioned “Don't you want to exercise your rights to have control over your own body?” [1]

Texas law made it a crime to either have or perform an abortion except to save the life of the mother. To overturn the Texas law, the young activist attorneys claimed the law was unconstitutionally vague. The defendant in the case was Henry Wade, Dallas County District Attorney. A District Court ruled in Jane Roe’s favor but would not prevent the enforcement of the law should she get an abortion.

Ultimately the case went before the United States Supreme Court. Both Roe and Wade appealed to the Supreme Court at which Weddington, minus Linda Coffee, and Texas Assistant Attorney General Jay Floyd argued their case. After the 1965 Griswold versus Connecticut case, the Supreme Court recognized the “right of privacy” (the phrase does not appear in the Constitution) and constitutional protection for birth control possession by both married couples as well as unmarried persons. Based on these previous rulings the Supreme Court attempted to define and apply this “right of privacy” to the issue of abortion.

It was on this basis that the court “discovered” implications for a constitutional “right of privacy” in the Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendment which as sufficient to grant a woman the “right” to terminate a pregnancy.

Seven of the nine Justices ultimately ruled in favor of Jane Roe on January 22, 1973. And fortunately, by then, her baby had been placed for adoption. Weddington had promised but failed to be present for the birth of Norma’s child. The Justices that decided the case are as follows"

Justice                       Appointed by                Sworn In

Harry A. Blackmun (R), President Richard Nixon (R), June 9, 1970 

Lewis F. Powell (D), President Richard Nixon (R), January 7, 1972  

Chief Justice William E. Burger (R), President Richard Nixon (R), June 23, 1969 

William O. Douglas (D), President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D), April 17, 1939

William J. Brennan (D), President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R), October 16, 1956

Thurgood Marshall (D), President Lyndon Johnson (D), October 2, 1967  

Potter Stewart (R), President Dwight D. Eisenhower (R), October 14, 1958

Dissent by: Byron R. White (D), President John F. Kennedy (D), April 16, 1962  

Dissent by: William H. Rehnquist (R), President Richard Nixon (R), January 7, 1972

Essentially, the federal government took over yet another very personal area of our lives. The decision stripped the states of their constitutional responsibility regarding this very person issue and declared all state laws unconstitutional with the exception of the least restrictive laws. The federal government established the parameters which permitted abortion during the first three months of pregnancy. They also established regulations for abortions after the first trimester in an effort to safeguard a woman’s health. Then, as if childbearing were more of a malady rather than a natural process, they declared that early abortions were safer than childbirth. More significantly, they determined that the word “person” in the Constitution does not apply to an unborn child. Seven out of nine men twisted and manipulated the terminology to legalize a traditionally repugnant act. Making an action legal does not make it morally acceptable.

The lawyers got what they wanted by using a desperate, vulnerable white woman who was living on the street who opted for an abortion, justified by an alleged rape. Norma claims that she did not comprehend that an abortion actually involved killing a human being. Interestingly though perceptively, Norma complained that “My lawyers wanted to eliminate the right of society to protect women and children from abortionists.” [2]  Norma was understandably irate when she later learned that Weddington had an abortion in Mexico four years earlier which certainly reveals a vested personal interest in the legality of abortion.

Norma, with her lack of sophistication and social experience, could not have imagined the ramifications that her contribution made to this landmark decision. However, others knew. Like other orchestrated socialistic endeavors, people are frequently manipulated to promote political agendas. Perhaps few anticipated that abortion totals would reach into the millions and would encompass the numerous reasons: gender selection, too young to have a child, too old to have a child, or the use of abortion as a contraceptive. Multiple abortions are often performed for women who appear morally irresponsible, often functioning as government-subsidized birth control. Abortion frequently leads to immediate and long-term heartache and devastating remorse for thousands of women who would never regain peace of mind, in spite of their diligent efforts.

After the Supreme court decision and the resulting legalization of what amounts to infanticide, Norma experienced severe substance abuse problems in an effort to numb the pain and the guilt resulting in the nationwide abortion avalanche. She worked for a time as an abortion advocate. She engaged in a lesbian lifestyle. She did not disclose her involvement in the case until the 1980’s when she became a proponent for Roe versus Wade, possibly to justify her part in the court case and alleviate her guilt.

In 1992 she began working in abortion clinics which was psychologically conflicting. She reports: “I became even more emotionally confused and conflicted between what my conscience knew to be evil, and what the judges, my mind and my need for money were telling me was OK.” [3] She indicates that many women will be in denial and claim a pro choice position. I suppose one must make this claim in order to cope on a day to day basis with such a devastating decision. Norma says: “But participating in the murder of your own child will eat away at your conscience forever if you do not take steps to cleanse your conscience.” [4]

Norma McCorvey found peace through her conversion to Christianity in addition to her involvement in the Pro Life Movement. She now spends her time and energy working as hard for the life of the pre born as she devoted to the opposition. What changed her heart? Was it the innocent smile of a toddler? Was it the unconditional, Christ like love of another human being?

Something touched her heart. I am certain that she has discovered a measure of peace unavailable in a pill or alcohol bottle. She may have been a victim of her environment or victimized by others who recognized her vulnerability and manipulated her for their political or personal benefits. There are many, like Norma, who elect abortion because it is legal and they are desperate. There are many couples who are unable to have children. Adoption is a wonderful choice that demonstrates unselfish love for the child and a concern for others who would gratefully accept a child as their own. Abortion is a permanent choice with permanent consequences. Expectant women are emotionally vulnerable to persuasive husbands, boyfriends or friends who rarely suffer any repercussions.

Sarah Weddington, previously an unemployed attorney, was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1972 and was re-elected twice. She resigned in 1977 to accept the position of General Counsel for the United States Department of Agriculture. In 1978 she became a special advisor to President Carter. She wrote a book about the case entitled A Question of Choice. She established the Weddington Center and has worked as a professor at the University of Texas at Austin. She continues her nationwide abortion rights activities. How many other women has she helped since 1973? Roe versus Wade was indeed a watershed event for both Norma McCorvey and Sarah Weddington.

Part of the justification for passing Roe versus Wade was to eradicate the horrific results of back ally abortions. Legal or not, unsanitary conditions often exist in abortion clinics where employees must clean up after an abortion. There may be instances when they witness a patient's tearful regret immediately after the procedure. The instruments and techniques used for an abortion, legal or illegal, may be very similar and the results are the same - a dead child. What kind of people are predisposed to employment in an abortion facility? There are numerous web sites that promote the pro-choice agenda, exercising one's “reproductive rights.” There are also numerous abortion recovery web sites offering solace and assistance in an effort to find peace of mind. Many, at least fifty-one percent of the U.S. population consider abortion as a crime against humanity. Legal or not, it is a bloody scourge upon our allegedly Christian nation.

[1] Congressional Testimony, Federal Documents Clearing House 6/23/2005
[2] Ibid
[3] Ibid
[4] Ibid


The Sunday Telegraph; 1/11/1998; Norma McCorvey Interview by Ivo Dawnay

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