roe: What is Roe v. Wade, the landmark abortion access case?

A leaked draft of a US Supreme Court decision suggests the country’s highest court could strike down the constitutional right to abortion, allowing individual states to more strongly regulate or even ban the procedure.
What does ‘Roe vs Wade’ refer?
Roe v. Wade is the name of a lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court decision establishing the constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy.
Who were Roe & Wade?
Jane Roe was a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, who was 22 years old, single, unemployed and pregnant for the third time in 1969 when she sought an abortion in Texas. When the United States Supreme Court ruled in her favor, McCorvey had given birth to a girl whom she gave up for adoption.
Henry Wade was the District Attorney for Dallas County, Texas. It was his job to enforce a state law that prohibited abortion except to save a woman’s life, so he was the person McCorvey sued when she sought an abortion.
After her death, biographer Joshua Prager said that McCorvey made a living giving speeches and writing books on both sides of the abortion debate and that both sides counseled her. She had mixed feelings about each, she said, but was consistent on one point: supporting first-trimester abortion.
What did the court decide in 1973?
The plaintiff alleged that the Texas law was unconstitutionally vague and violated her constitutionally protected right to personal privacy. The question before the United States Supreme Court was: Does the Constitution recognize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy through abortion?
Justice Harry Blackmun issued the 7-2 majority opinion and concluded yes, although such protection had to be balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and “the potentiality of human life.” The conservative-leaning court said a woman’s decision to have an abortion during the first three months of her pregnancy should be left up to her and her doctor.
What was the landscape before Roe in the US?
At the time of Roe, abortion was broadly legal in only four states and permitted under limited circumstances in 16 others. Constitutional rights take precedence over state law, so the court’s decision struck down bans in the remaining 30 states. But it allowed states to impose certain regulations during the second trimester to protect women’s health and to take steps to protect fetal life in the third trimester.
How have subsequent decisions altered abortion rights in the United States?
Blackmun was still in court in 1992 when he heard Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a challenge to Pennsylvania’s abortion laws that included a 24-hour waiting period. The conservative-leaning court unexpectedly upheld abortion rights while also making it easier for states to impose regulations.
Three conservative justices, Sandra Day O’Connor, Anthony M. Kennedy and David H. Souter, co-authored the court’s main opinion in the 5-4 decision, writing: “The right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy before it becomes viable is the most central point”. Roe vs. Wade principle. It is a rule of law and a component of freedom that we cannot give up.”
Neither side on the abortion issue was satisfied with the ruling. Since then, conservative states have been undermining abortion rights with laws that have led to many more court challenges, including a recent Texas law that bans most abortions after about six weeks.
What is this new case that is about to topple Roe?
Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization. She challenges Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.
Holding that a ban would undermine both Roe and Casey, which allow states to regulate, but not prohibit, abortion up to the point of fetal viability, at about 24 weeks. The decision, according to the draft, would likely result in a patchwork of abortion laws, with some states protecting abortion and others banning it outright.

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