Abortion ban goes into effect in Texas today after Supreme Court ignores calls to block it

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In 1973, the United States Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark decision legalized abortion across the country, but divided public opinion and has been attacked ever since.

The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old girl living in Texas who was single and seeking to terminate her unwanted pregnancy.

Due to state laws prohibiting abortions unless the mother’s life was in danger, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.

McCorvey therefore sued Henry Wade, the Dallas County prosecutor, in 1970. The case went to the Supreme Court, under Roe v Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.

Supreme Court decision

The Supreme Court has issued the landmark 7-2 decision that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including choosing to have an abortion, is protected by the 14th Amendment.

In particular, the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment provides a “fundamental right of privacy” that protects a woman’s freedom to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due legal process

The landmark decision saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under some specific conditions that individual states could decide. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (generally beyond 28 weeks).

Impact

Among pro-choice activists, the decision was hailed as a victory that would mean fewer women would become seriously – even fatally – ill from abortions performed by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. In addition, freedom of choice was seen as an important step in the fight for women’s equality in the country. Victims of rape or incest could terminate their pregnancy and not feel pressured into motherhood.

However, pro-lifers argued that this amounted to murder and that every life, no matter how designed, is precious. Although the ruling was never overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of state laws since then to narrow the scope of the ruling.

One was the Partial Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.

McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she was revealed to be Jane Roe

Norma McCorveyJane Roe

Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s, when she was revealed to be Jane Roe. McCorvey became a prominent pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.

However, she made an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born-again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.

In 2003, she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 decision in the US District Court in Dallas. The petition was taken to court until it was finally dismissed by the Supreme Court in 2005.

McCorvey died in an assisted living facility in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.

“The Heartbeat Bill”

Several governors have signed legislation banning abortion if a doctor can detect a so-called “fetal heartbeat,” part of a concerted effort to curtail abortion rights in states across the country.

Under the ban, doctors will be prosecuted for flouting the rules.

Abortion rights advocates see ‘heartbeat bills’ as virtual bans because ‘fetal heartbeats’ can be detected as early as six weeks, when women may not know they are there. are pregnant.

Anti-abortion activists have stepped up their efforts since Donald Trump was elected president and appointed two conservative justices to the United States Supreme Court, hoping they can convince the right-wing court to reconsider Roe v. Wade.

Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and Louisiana recently enacted “heartbeat laws,” and Alabama passed an even more restrictive version in May, amounting to a near total ban on abortion as early as the time of conception. Other states have similar legislation pending.

Similar laws have also been passed in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa and Kentucky, although they have been blocked by the courts from going into effect as legal challenges have been filed against them. they.

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