Roe v. Wade became the law in all fifty states on January 22, 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Texas statute that banned abortion. The Texas statute made it a crime to perform an abortion except in cases where the mother’s life was endangered.
The Roe v. Wade decision to legalize abortion across the nation continues to divide Americans today. There are three findings from Roe v. Wade that are kept today: (1) “Women have the right to abort pre-viability without undue interference from the state.” (2) “The state may restrict abortion post-viability.” (3) “The state has a legitimate interest in protecting woman’s health and life of the fetus.”
The U.S. Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade nearly fifty years ago before much of the current medical technology was developed. The sonogram was first used for clinical purposes in 1956 in Glasgow, Scotland, and was routinely used in hospitals there. However, British hospitals did not use it much until the 1970s, and American hospitals did not widely use it until “well into the 1970s.”
My children were born between 1972 and 1985 without the use of sonograms. I remember hearing about sonograms with my fourth or fifth child simply because my friend’s doctor had one in his office. I was never offered a sonogram or had need for one, but I believe that they were more widely used in Alaska by the time that my last child was born. Most of my grandchildren were introduced to me by sonogram.
Sonograms give doctors and parents a way to look into the womb to see the child or children before they are born. These medical miracles show that unborn children are human beings, and I have long believed that they would be instrumental in ending abortion on demand. That time may be the present.
According to Mary Margaret Olohan, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear in October an abortion case titled Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. Three Republican Senators – Josh Hawley (Missouri), Mike Lee (Utah), and Ted Cruz (Texas) – filed a brief in the case, and they asked the court to “revisit its rulings in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey.” In doing so, they asked the court to “return questions of abortion legislation to the states and challenged the Supreme Court’s abortion jurisprudence as unconstitutional.” In other words, they said that abortion is a decision that each state should decide.
This status quo is untenable….
Where a legal doctrine has repeatedly failed to offer clarity – where it has proved unworkable in the past and will likely engender unpredictable consequences in the future – its existence constitutes an open invitation to judges to interpret it according to their own policy preferences, usurping the constitutional prerogatives of the legislature.
Roe and Casey should be overruled … and the question of abortion legislation should be returned to the states.
This is the first time in my recollection that a case has challenged Roe v. Wade at the Supreme Court. At least, none has done so successfully. Olohan explained that Dobbs “deals with a 2018 Mississippi law banning abortions after 15 weeks.” The law was challenged by Jackson Women’s Health Organization and struck down by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2019. The State of Mississippi appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to take the case. Olohan continued with her explanation:
An unborn baby is considered viable at 24 weeks, though medical intervention and a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit are usually required this early. Babies born before 23 weeks have a survival rate of about 5% to 6%, and analysis by Charlotte Lozier Institute medical experts found that unborn babies can feel pain as early as 12 weeks.
Sonograms can detect a fetus about six weeks after the mother’s last menstrual period. Healthy pregnancies today usually involve two sonograms, one in the first trimester and the second in mid-second trimester. The sex of the child can usually be seen by the time of the second sonogram. Yet, abortion is legal up until the child is born.
With the use of modern technology and modern medicine, much more is known today about the unborn baby than could be proven in 1973 when Roe v. Wade was passed. Now that it is obvious that an unborn baby is a human being and not just a blob of tissue and that unborn babies feel pain, it is time to revisit the law that legalizes killing of unborn babies for the convenience of their mothers.