Roe v. Wade | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute
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Roe v. Wade | Homework Help from the Bill of Rights Institute

October 21, 2019


Speaker 1: In 1973,
the Supreme Court made the monumental
decision that a right to privacy
extends to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Speaker 2: Heated debates on
this ruling rage on to this day. On what basis was
this case decided? This is the story of Roe V.
Wade. [music] [cheering] Speaker 1: It was
1969 and the women’s liberation movement
was underway. Reproductive rights,
namely birth control and abortion,
were at the forefront of this battle. This was the situation in Dallas,
Texas when a 21-year-old
woman became pregnant. She sought an abortion but
was unable to obtain one as abortion was illegal
in the state of Texas. She was then referred
to attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah
Weddington who challenged the Texas law in US district court as
a violation of the right to privacy. Speaker 2: The woman used
the legal pseudonym Jane Roe against the defendant,
Dallas district attorney Henry Wade. While the district
court judges unanimously found Texas abortion
law unconstitutional, they also declined to
issue an injunction against the enforcement
of the law. The case was then appealed and
taken to the Supreme Court in 1970. Speaker 1: There was
a major complication. Roe would give birth to her
child before the proceedings. No longer in need of an abortion,
would she step back from the case or move
on to the highest court? Speaker 2: Despite her child’s
birth, Roe remained plaintiff as opening
arguments were heard in 1971. Representing Roe,
Coffee in Weddington built their case
on the right to privacy. Speaker 1: They pointed out the
right to privacy was articulated. They appealed to the right
of privacy that was defined in Griswold v. Connecticut which
ruled that our right to privacy was found with an appeal to the 1st,
4th, 9th, and 14th amendment. Speaker 2: Coffee
and Weddington maintain that doctors had a fundamental
right to give medical care and the women had
the right to a safe abortion whether or not their
life was in jeopardy. Speaker 1: Attorney
Jay Floyd represented Wade maintaining that
a fetus is defined as a person within the meaning
of the 14th amendment. Speaker 2: He saw it as
the court’s duty to preserve a respect for that life,
declaring that even if the right to privacy
was implicated, the state of Texas should still
protect its abortion laws. Speaker 1: Furthermore,
he told the court that the right to privacy was never explicitly
guaranteed in the constitution. Speaker 2: With the Supreme
court under an intense spotlight amongst divided America,
what would their decision be? Speaker 1: It would be a count
of 7-2 in favor of Jane Roe with the majority decisions
written by Justice Blackmun. Speaker 2: Blackmun
maintained that a woman’s right to abortion
fell within a right to privacy protected by
the 14th amendment due process clause. Speaker
1: Furthermore, he decreed that women
countrywide had total autonomy over their
pregnancy during the first trimester,
as it’s a private medical decision made between a woman
and her doctor. Speaker 2: However,
the court also ruled that the states have an important
and legitimate interest in protecting potential
life and may limit access to abortion in the second
and third trimesters. Speaker 1: Dissenters were
firm in their beliefs. Justice Rehnquist’s
scathing dissent stated that the right to
an abortion was not in the constitution
and that the fetus’s rights should be
protected as well. Believing the court
had taken the concept of liberty too far,
Rehnquist stated, “Liberty is not guaranteed absolutely
against deprivation. Only against deprivation
without due process of the law.” Abortion remains
perhaps America’s most controversial topic across
political discourse. Will the Supreme Court
revisit the issue? Only time will tell. This was the story of Roe v.
Wade. Speaker 2: If you guys feel like
you’ve learned something here, make sure that you like,
you comment, and you subscribe.

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