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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice - Roe v Wade Doe v Bolton 41 Years Later Part II - Who are Roe and Doe?

Roe v Wade 
January 22, 1973 

Who is Norma (Roe) McCorvey?

Norma McCorvey was a self described “simple little old girl from Louisiana,” who wanted an abortion.  Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee wanted to change a law.  Norma signed an affidavit Weddington placed before her on March 7, 1970.  By May 22, 1970, Weddington and Coffee had amended the case to a class-action suit.  Now Jane Roe would represent not just Norma McCorvey but all pregnant women who were “similarly situated.”  This would lead to the 1973 Supreme Court decision invalidating all state laws restricting women’s access to abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy.  Abortion doctors took their shingle off the back alley lamppost and placed them prominently over the front door of their office.  Abortion was now legal in the United States. 

In 1995 while working at an abortion clinic Norma had a change of heart and left the abortion industry to work as a pro-life activist for Operation Rescue.  In 1998 and 2005 she gave testimonies before the Senate Judiciary Committee where she admitted to lying in the affidavit she signed in 1970. 

Norma McCorvey runs her own pro-life ministry Roe No More and is working with The Justice Foundation to reverse Roe v Wade.  

Roe v Wade 
January 22, 1973 

Decision by Justice Blackmun

"This Texas federal appeal and its Georgia companion, Doe v Bolton, present constitutional challenges to state criminal abortion legislation...We forthwith acknowledge our awareness of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy...

The constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy.  In a line of decisions...the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist in the Constitution...

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy...

We therefore conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulations...

The Constitution does not define "person" in so many words.  Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment contains three references to "persons."...None indicates, with any assurance, that it has any possible pre-natal application...the word "person," as used in the Fourteenth Amendment, does not include the unborn...

Texas urges that, apart from the Fourteenth Amendment, life begins at conception and is present throughout pregnancy, and that, therefore, the State has a compelling interest in protecting that life from and after conception.  We need not resolve the difficult questions of when life begins..."

The final summation of Blackmun's augment in layman's terms: In Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court adopted a trimester framework for state regulation of abortion. For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.  For the stage subsequent to the end of the first trimester the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.  For the stage subsequent to viability the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe abortion when necessary to preserve the life of the mother. 

Applying a double standard, arbitrarily giving the word person a narrow definition assuring no equal right of protection for the unborn child, while using a broad definition for the word privacy ensuring that the mother would be the only "person" of concern in the abortion decision, Justice Blackmun and the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States.  But Justice Blackmun wasn't done for the day.  He had another case to rule, Doe v Bolton. 

Doe v Bolton
January 22, 1973

Who is Sandra (Doe) Cano?

“The Doe v Bolton Supreme Court decision bears my name.  I am Sandra Cano, the former “Doe.”  Doe v Bolton is the companion case to Roe v Wade.  Using my name and life, Doe v Bolton falsely created the health exception that led to abortion on demand and partial birth abortion.  How it got there is still pretty much a mystery to me.  I only sought legal assistance to get a divorce from my husband and to get my children from foster care.  I was very vulnerable:  poor and pregnant with my fourth child, but abortion never crossed my mind.  Although it apparently was utmost in the mind of the attorney from whom I sought help. ..I did not seek an abortion nor do I believe in abortion.  Yet my name and life is now forever linked with the slaughter of 40 – 50 million babies.  I have tried to understand how it all happened…Doe has been a nightmare…One of the Justices of the Supreme Court said during oral argument in my case “What does it matter if she is real or not.”  Well I am real and it does matter…I want the case which was supposedly to benefit me, be either overturned or retired.  If it is retired, at least I will have an opportunity to speak for myself in court, something that never happened before…“(1) 

Doe v Bolton 
January 22, 1973
Decision by Justice Blackmun

With all the press surrounding the decision of Roe v Wade, the companion case of Doe v Bolton (referenced by Justice Blackmun in his opinion) received very little press.  It is significant that the decision for Doe v Bolton came down the same day as Roe v Wade.  

Doe v Bolton made it possible to have an abortion at any time if it would impair the physical or mental health of the mother.   

"In this appeal, the criminal abortion statues recently enacted in Georgia are challenged on constitutional grounds...In Roe v Wade, we today have struck down, as constitutionally defective, the Texas criminal abortion statues that are representative of provisions long in effect in a majority of states."

Justice Blackmun's opinion then defined a noncriminal abortion as "an abortion performed by a physician duly licensed in Georgia when based upon his best clinical abortion is necessary because: (1) A continuation of the pregnancy would endanger the life of the pregnant woman or would seriously and permanently inure her health; or (2) The fetus would very likely be born with a grave, permanent, and irredeemable mental or physical defect; or (3) The pregnancy resulted from, forcible or statutory rape."  

Justice Blackmun's opinion went on to mention that the Appellants (Doe's) argument that "it would be physically and emotionally damaging to Doe to bring a child into her poor, fatherless family, and because advances in medicine and medical techniques have made it safer for a women to have a medically induced abortion than for her to bear a child, thus, a statue that requires a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term infringes not only on a fundamental right to privacy, but to the right to life itself."  

Justice Blackmun then painted a rather broad definition of "health" as in the words of the Georgia statue, " an abortion is necessary" is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely.  "We agree...that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the well being of the patient.  All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman."  

With this Justice Blackmun's ruling in Doe v Bolton effectively nullified any limitations or conditions he had place on his abortion ruling in Roe v Wade.  Justice Blackmun essentially defined the term "health" so broadly in Doe v Bolton that abortion could be legally performed through all nine months of pregnancy for almost any reason.
Margaret Sanger and Planned Parenthood have won for now, but this whole "person" thing is going to be an issue. 

Pro-Life vs Pro-Choice - Roe v Wade Doe v Bolton 41 Years Later Part III - The Science of Life
Contemplation of Justice - US Supreme Court Building
Wisdom - US Supreme Court Building

(1) US Senate Committee on the Judiciary June 23, 2005, Testimony of Sandra Cano 

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