Roe v Wade PDF - Overview
Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States generally protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion. The decision, which struck down many U.S. federal and state abortion laws, fueled an ongoing debate in the United States about whether, or to what extent, abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, and what the role of moral and religious views in the political sphere should be.
Roe v Wade was brought by Norma Mc Corvey known by the legal pseudonym “Jane Roe”—who in 1969 became pregnant with her third child. McCorvey wanted an abortion but lived in Texas, where abortion was illegal except when necessary to save the mother’s life. Her attorneys, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, filed a lawsuit on her behalf in U.S. federal court against her local district attorney, Henry Wade, alleging that Texas’s abortion laws were unconstitutional.
Roe v Wade
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A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled in her favor and declared the relevant Texas abortion statutes unconstitutional. The parties appealed this ruling to the Supreme Court of the United States. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision holding that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides a fundamental “right to privacy”, which protects a pregnant woman’s right to an abortion.
But the Court also held that the right to abortion is not absolute and must be balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and prenatal life. The Court resolved these competing interests by announcing a trimester timetable to govern all abortion regulations in the United States. During the first trimester, governments could not regulate abortion at all, except to require that abortions be performed by a licensed physician.
During the second trimester, governments could regulate the abortion procedure, but only for the purpose of protecting maternal health and not for protecting fetal life.
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