Abortion Debate: Attorneys Present Roe v. Wade Supreme Court Pro-Life / Pro-Choice Arguments (1971)

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Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. More on the topic:

Decided simultaneously with a companion case, Doe v. Bolton, the Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state’s two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women’s health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the trimester of pregnancy.

The Court later rejected Roe’s trimester framework, while affirming Roe’s central holding that a person has a right to abortion until viability. The Roe decision defined “viable” as being “potentially able to live outside the mother’s womb, albeit with artificial aid”, adding that viability “is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks.”

In disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States, Roe v. Wade prompted a national debate that continues today, about issues including whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.

Sarah Ragle Weddington (born February 5, 1945, in Abilene, Texas) is an American attorney, law professor, and former Texas state legislator best known for representing “Jane Roe” (real name Norma McCorvey) in the landmark Roe v. Wade case before the United States Supreme Court.

After graduating, Weddington found it difficult to find a job with a law firm. She instead joined a group of graduate students at University of Texas-Austin that was researching ways to challenge various anti-abortion statutes. After deciding that a woman should helm a lawsuit to challenge Texas’ statute, Weddington volunteered.

Soon after, a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey visited a local attorney seeking an abortion. The attorney instead assisted McCorvey with handing over her child for adoption, and after doing so, referred McCorvey to Weddington and Linda Coffee. In March 1970, Weddington and her co-counsel filed suit against Wade, the Dallas district attorney and the person responsible for enforcing the anti-abortion statute. McCorvey became the landmark plaintiff, and was referred in the legal documents as “Jane Roe” to protect her identity.

Weddington first stated her case in front of a three-judge district court on May 1970 in Dallas. The district court agreed that the Texas abortion laws were unlawful, but the state appealed the decision, landing it before the United States Supreme Court.

Weddington appeared before the Supreme Court in 1971 and again in the fall of 1972. Her argument was based on the 1st, 4th, 5th, 8th, 9th and 14th amendments, as well as the Court’s previous decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, which legalized the sale of contraceptives based on the right of privacy. Of the experience, Weddington later stated, “There was a sense of majesty, walking up those stairs, my steps echoing on the marble. I went to the lawyers’ lounge — to go over my argument. I wanted to make a last stop before I went in — but there was no ladies’ room in the lawyer’s lounge.”

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29 COMMENTS

  1. Abortion is a black seed that will poison everbody associated with it and eventually the nation that promotes it ; evil spawns its own
    It is Karma

  2. Una vera testimonianza di credere veramente dio è grande ,essendo stato molte volte una vittima in materia di prestiti di denaro tra persone, ho trovato una signora normed FONTAINE , buona il cuore che mi ha dato in prestito dei soldi che ho voluto per anni, e grazie a lui ho potuto realizzare i miei sogni e pagare il mio debiti. In 48 ore, già ho avuto sul mio conto. Dio sia lodato offro anche per tutti i tuoi problemi finanziaria, si prega di contattare: E-mail: germainefontaine21@gmail.com

  3. Anyone who argues this case now, you are wasting your time. The case has been decided and affirmed for over 35 years, and I do not see it being changed anytime soon. Naturally we all have our opinions on this topic, so instead of continue the bickering, you need to learn from this piece on Supreme Court history.

  4. Any pro-lifers want to make a deal???
    Watch (MeatVideo dotcom-Factory Farm abuses make hunting seem nice) and go Vegan, I'll never have a abortion?

    Ive considered adoption since tons of kids-teens are in foster care, also am for human population control, look up Earth Clock for scary stats. Reducing prolonged suffering in is important. Vegans also drastically reduce hunger (every 10lbs corn/grain fed to force-bred birds/pigs only gives 1lb cooked flesh in return) and helps health/environment

  5. I was not put here at all. I am a product of human biology. Are you saying homosexuals (who can't procreate together) have no purpose on earth? Then why were they 'put here'? Of course birth is more dangerous than an early womb scraping. Geez.

  6. I was not put here at all. I am a product of human biology. Are you saying homosexuals (who can't procreate together) have no purpose on earth? Then why were they 'put here'? Of course birth is more dangerous than an early womb scraping. Geez.

  7. FUCK JANE ROE…SHE WAS JUST A HORNY BITCH WHO WANTED A WAY OUT OF HER PREGNANCY….THIS IS SO STUPID, A FETUS IS A LIVING THING!!! FUCK WHOEVER MADE THIS VIDEO, THIS IS SO ABSURD. ABORTION??? R U SERIOUS??? THEN WHY WANNA OPEN YOUR LEGS TO WHOEVER IF YOU DO NOT WANT THE BABY. RICH OR POOR, RIGHTS OF WOMEN DOES NOT MEAN RIGHT TO ABORTION, IT IS THE SAME AS MURDER!! GO TO HELL YOU HYPOCRITE….

  8. But by your use of words.. like, "fetus" I can see that you have this confused. You are the one with no respect for HUMAN life. Cause that means EVERY human. Even the BABY that is in the womb.

  9. Please, tell me where your facts are stating that "childbearing is ten times mor dangerous to a womans life than a legal abortion". Really? I cant even believe the level that pro-choicers will go to just to justify this. WOW. So your telling me that it is now "unnatural" to get pregnant & a "natural" thing to abort? Because last I recall- we were all put here to procreate. Also, I have NEVER heard of one single case were the abortion proceedure was safer than the childbearing.

  10. Im a guy so can't have a Abortion, never got anyone pregnant-we use b/c or condoms. Im considering a Vasectomy due to Human Population control (look up "Earth Clock" scary stats) We've also considered Adopting since TONS of kids-teens are in Foster Care. We went to "open house" for it but only 5 people showed up-Gay couple, old single + us. Where r religious prolifers-I support if u Adopt!

    Also PRO-LIFERS support FACTORY FARM long term suffering/abuses of ~100 mammals/yr MEATVideo dotcom WATCH?

  11. Childbearing is ten times more dangerous to a woman's life than a legal abortion. For adolescent girls, childbearing is TWENTY-FOUR times as dangerous. If a man rapes his twelve-year old daughter, would her consequent death in childbirth please you? If you value a fetus more than the life and safety of a child, how much respect for life do you really have?

  12. @Penny Cillin -Your response here indicates a mere superficial understanding of the sexual reproductive process involved in the incarnating of consciousness, & you produce 'stock-phrases' as replies to a subject still little understood in its entirety by humanity in its current level of knowledge.
    .
    Fundamentalists, be they Pro-or-Con are generally polarized extremists. One has to understand the 'encompassing' issue,to realize the basis for each party.
    .
    Viable Life,is the term to be used.

  13. @MelanieH2-You are mistaken,& constructing the wrong argument in regard to 'internal organs'.The 'fetus' is not an organ on which the mother is dependent to survive & live,it is an addition,the result of a reproductive process where THREE parties collude.The incubator-Mother,The fertilizer-(Father/sperm donor)& the incarnating consciousness.
    .
    All THREE,participate directly or indirectly.A fetus would not become a viable child/infant if a conscious ACT was not involved,by any of these 3 parties.

  14. @Penny Cillin – If proper SEX-EDUCATION & MORALITY were provided by & adhered to, by both adults & the state, then legislation would not be necessary.
    .
    Legislation currently ONLY exists as guide and form of retribution/retaliation against 'wrongs' committed against the 'norm'.
    .
    Each individual has 'free-will' constrained by circumstance. Should an individual perpetrate a crime, such as 'murder' then the STATE has the obligation to convict the instigator, & all those complicit in the crime…

  15. @ChristianSoldier135:

    You feel it's a "baby" while others feel a 6-week-old fetus is NOT the same as a 6-week-old baby. Fundamentalist anti-abortion protesters are very often found to NOT be "all about saving babies" but have a deeply-buried anger against women, feel women must be punished for having sex and use religion as an excuse to segregate and silence women. The more rigid the religion, the more cruel its male believers are to women.

  16. On the surface, such an analogy would seem enlightening. And I do understand you may be against others obtaining abortion under any circumstance and feel others should be forced to live by your rules. However, if a teenager becomes pregnant after consensual sex, some parents would either force her to continue the pregnancy against her will, physically harm her or kick her out rendering her homeless. It is these cases when a teenager's decision takes priority over her parents' decision.

  17. EACH individual should have control over OUR OWN BODIES (MEN & WOMEN) at ALL Times. NO one has the right to remove anything from our bodies at any time period. Do you want me to come in and take your lung? Internal organs and fetus ARE internal to a women's body; therefore; a Womens Personal DECISION- NOT anyone elses. There is no logic for people who murder people for any reason except self defence. see Gloria Steinem interview and learn how some men are trying to control women through this.

  18. Who's talking about abortion? *I* was talking about idiotic public officials who make statements and policy decisions about phenomena they clearly have no understanding of themselves.

  19. Or economic. It is said that raising a child to adulthood (i.e. 18) requires well over $1M. Considering that the median US income is only about $50K/yr, and that a woman will typically earn 75% of what a male with comparable education, work experience, and other qualifications would earn, the cost of raising a child with no support from a spouse is prohibitive

    True, this is not a argument "for abortion" per se. But it does illustrate the considerations facing women with an unexpected pregnancy.

  20. I respectfully disagree.

    "You know you live in a Country run by idiots if…

    "Multiple elected officials make a number public statements showing a spectacular lack of even an elementary understanding of the human reproductive system. Specifically, the bizarre notion that the female body could somehow identify (and repel/"shut down") sperm deposited into the uterus as the result of a "legitimate rape."

  21. I don't believe in "legitimate" rape. Bad things happen because people have free will not because someone is destined to be raped.

  22. What is your source that an underage girl can get an abortion without parental consent? What if the pregnancy is a result of incest or child abuse? Should a child have a right to contact Social Services, get out of the situation, and make her own informed decision? If the child is required to have the baby, what role should the father be allowed? Should there be a penalty of life imprisonment for such an act? Did you know child birth for a young teenage girl can result in permanent damage?

  23. Other concerns are the idea of "legitimate rape" and comments I've seen on other websites that claim rape makes a woman responsible to marry a man. I do think there should be education about the potential emotional or actual physical consequences of abortion both to men and women. Men could be encouraged to take a leadership role in not engaging in sex before marriage. Why would a woman who feels loved and safe want an abortion? What might be the personal or societal pressures?

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