Roe vs. Wade Day
Roe vs. Wade Day is observed next on Wednesday, January 22nd, 2025 (326 days from today).
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court granted the decision to continue dividing the country to this day. In Roe v. Wade, the Court ruled that state law prohibiting abortion except to save the mother's life was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. This decision has proven to be one of the most controversial cases in the history of the Court.
Until June 1969, McCorvey founded that she was pregnant. This was her third child, but McCorvey wanted an abortion. At the time, Texas law only allowed abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to save the mother's life. McCorvey was advised by friends to falsely claim that she had been raped, but there were no police reports to support this claim. Instead, McCorvey attempted an illegal abortion, but she soon discovered that the authorities had closed the facility.
McCorvey went to a local attorney to seek advice on what to do next. Attorneys helped McCorvey begin the adoption process and introduced her to Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, two recent graduates from the University of Texas Law School.
Coffee and Weddington sued on behalf of McCorvey (who adopted the alias "Jane Roe" throughout the case to protect her identity) claiming that state law violated Roe's constitutional rights. The lawsuit claims that, while her life is not in danger, Roe has the right to have an abortion in a safe, medical setting in her state. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas agreed and ruled that the Texas law violated Roe's Ninth Amendment privacy rights and was therefore unconstitutional.
Texas appealed this decision to the Supreme Court, and the case reached the Court in 1970. However, the Court decided to wait for Roe's trial until they decided Younger v. Harris and United States v. Vuitch. . After the Court announced the decision in Vuitch, which upheld the constitutionality of the Washington, D.C. act on a similar outlaw abortion, the Court voted to try Roe and the closely related Doe v. Bolton case.
December 13, 1971 was the beginning time of arguments in the case. Not long before that date, Judges Hugo Black and John Marshall Harlan II retired from the bench. Chief Justice Warren Burger decided that Roe and Doe, as well as other cases already scheduled on the frame, would go ahead as planned.
Jay Floyd, who represented Texas in the case, opened his debate with what commentators have described as "the worst joke in the history of the law". Referring to Coffee and Weddington, the female attorneys representing McCorvey, Floyd began by saying, “Mr. Chief Justice! It's only an old joke, however, when a man argues with two beautiful girls like this, they have to have the last word. "
The rest of the case was argued that day. However, when Justice Harry Blackmun was trying to draft a preliminary opinion based on the biguity of the law in May 1971, he suggested to his colleagues that the case be sorted out. After some debate on the matter, the case was resumed on October 11, 1972. Assistant Attorney General of Texas Robert C. Flowers replaced Jay Floyd to re-settle the case before the Court. .
Blackmun justice remained the justice of choice in the opinion of the Court after the second argument, and on January 22, 1973, the Court issued its 7-2 decision. In it, the Court determined that Texas had violated Roe's constitutional right to privacy.
Based on the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments, the Court said that the Constitution protects an individual's "private areas". Citing previous cases that ruled that contraception, marriage, and parenting were activities that fell within these “private areas,” the Court found that the area was “wide enough to include the decision.” abortion or not is the woman's decision. Because the Court determined that abortion was in a woman's “private area,” it ruled that a woman had a fundamental right to the procedure. While this right is basic, that doesn't mean it can't be restricted.
The Court held that as a fundamental right, any restriction on abortion must meet the standards of rigorous supervision. This means that there must be a "mandatory state interest" in regulating abortion, and that the law must be narrowly adjusted to accommodate this "mandatory" interest of the state.
The Court then evaluates the state's interests. Justice Blackmun found two legitimate government interests: protecting the mother's health and "protecting the potential of human life." To balance the fundamental privacy right to abortion with the interests of these two states, the Court created a framework of trimesters. This solution determines when the right to abortion will be unrestricted and when the interests of the state are compelling enough to override a woman's right to choose.
The court said that, during the first trimester, the decision to have an abortion is left to the woman and her doctor. After the first trimester, until the viability of the fetus, the state's interest in the mother's health reaches a convincing level and the state can regulate the procedure, only if it “reasonably related to the preservation and protection of maternal health. When the point of fetal viability is reached, the state can protect its right to “potential life” and regulate abortion to the end. This includes banning abortions at that stage of pregnancy.
In 1992, the Court adjusted the three-month frame in the Planned Parenthood of Southeast Pennsylvania v. Casey. In that case, the majority asserts, under the Fourteenth Amendment, that the mother has a constitutional right to abortion and that this right cannot be unduly interfered with by the state before it becomes viable — now known as the “undue burden” test.
Since Roe v. Wade's decision was issued in 1973, the case has remained one of the most controversial in the community. It has inspired political campaigns and movements, and sparked nationwide debates about ethics, religion, biology, and constitutional law.
ObservedRoe vs. Wade Day has been observed annually on January 22nd.
Sunday, January 22nd, 2023
Monday, January 22nd, 2024
Wednesday, January 22nd, 2025
Thursday, January 22nd, 2026
Friday, January 22nd, 2027