Editor’s note: I wrote this article in 2015 (I’ve updated only the anniversary year and the total of babies murdered), hoping to bring the woeful facts of the Roe decision to the fore. I mourn the loss of those babies, and the irreparable harm done to the mothers, fathers, and our nation’s collective conscience. America must repent and work to elect leaders who fear God and will restore a culture that chooses life. Tami Jackson
Today marks the 43rd anniversary of the shameful Roe v. Wade decision, a Supreme Court decision made without precedent.
The Roe v. Wade timeline is worth remembering, or learning, since many were too young (or not yet born) when SCOTUS was hearing the case.
Roe v. Wade pitted fetal “right to life” against a woman’s “right to privacy.”
The Gospel coalition writes of Norma McCorvey (aka Jane Roe):
In 1969 Norma was 21 years old, divorced, and pregnant for the third time. (The first two children were placed for adoption.)
After seeking an abortion but finding out it was illegal, and then driving to an illegal clinic only to find it closed, adoption attorney Henry McCluskey referred her to two young lawyers in Dallas, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee.
Weddington (who had traveled to Mexico a couple of years earlier to have an abortion) was seeking a class-action lawsuit against the state of Texas in order to legalize abortion.
It was an unlikely party at the corner booth of Columbo’s pizza parlor in Dallas: two recent law-school grads in business suits sitting across the table from a rough and uneducated homeless woman.
The lawyers needed a representative for all women seeking abortions—one who was young, poor, and white. They just didn’t want her to cross state lines to get a legal abortion, or the case would be considered moot and dismissed.
Without money and five months pregnant, Norma was the ideal candidate. After downing several pitchers of beer, they agreed on using the pseudonym “Jane Roe.” (“Wade” referred to Henry B. Wade, the attorney general of Dallas.)
Norma McCorvey was unaware of the meaning of abortion:
Weddington and Coffee told Norma that abortion just dealt with a piece of tissue, and that it was like passing a period rather than the termination of a distinct, living, and whole human organism.
Abortion was a taboo topic in 1970, and Norma had dropped out of school at the age of 14. She knew that John Wayne movies talked about “aborting the mission,” so she thought it meant to “go back”—as in, going back to not being pregnant.
She honestly believed “abortion” meant a child was prevented from coming into existence.
Norma had a change of heart, thanks to a little girl:
She went on to work in abortion clinics, holding the hands of women and offering reassurance as they terminated their pregnancies…
In 1995, while working at the clinic, Norma became haunted by the sight and sound of empty playgrounds in her neighborhood. Once teeming with kids, they now seemed deserted. And she began to see it was the result of what she once called “my law.”
But the decisive change happened when she met Emily Mackey, a seven-year-old girl whose parents were protesting at the clinic where “Miss Norma” worked. Emily, who had almost been aborted herself, befriended Norma, showing genuine interest and love, giving her hugs and inviting her to church.
Through this young girl’s combination of truth and grace, along with those who shared the gospel of Jesus with her, Norma not only became convinced of the pro-life position but also converted to Christianity.
Norma did come to know the Lord, and is trying to use the remainder of her life to shine a light on what abortion really is: the killing of pre-born children.
Roe v. Wade reached the Supreme Court on appeal in 1970, and the court issued its decision on January 22, 1973.
With a majority vote of 7-2, SCOTUS voted to strike down the Texas law which held abortion, for any reason other than rape or incest, to be illegal.
The court ruled:
The right to privacy was broad enough to “encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”
The question of “whether a fetus can enjoy Constitutional protection is separate from the notion of when life begins,” was not resolved by the court.
The Supreme Court members who decided Roe v. Wade:
Chief Justice Warren E. Burger
Justice William O. Douglas
Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.
Justice Potter Stewart
Justice Byron White
Justice Thurgood Marshall
Justice Harry Blackmun
Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Justice William Rehnquist
Justices Byron White (John F. Kennedy) and William Rehnquist (one of Nixon’s new appointees) dissented.
Justice Byron White wrote a stern dissent:
I find nothing in the language or history of the Constitution to support the Court’s judgment.
The Court simply fashions and announces a new constitutional right for pregnant women and, with scarcely any reason or authority for its action, invests that right with sufficient substance to override most existing state abortion statutes.
The upshot is that the people and the legislatures of the 50 States are constitutionally disentitled to weigh the relative importance of the continued existence and development of the fetus, on the one hand, against a spectrum of possible impacts on the woman, on the other hand.
As an exercise of raw judicial power, the Court perhaps has authority to do what it does today; but, in my view, its judgment is an improvident and extravagant exercise of the power of judicial review that the Constitution extends to this Court.
Improvident indeed. God bless Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist!
However, I would not want to be the other 7 Supreme Court Justices…knowing that over 57 million babies have been killed via abortion since that January 22, 1973 decision.
This is a shameful legacy, and I pray that one day Roe v. Wade will be overturned.
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.