From the desk of Nancy F – AGM Team Member
Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton
The Laws That Legalized Abortion and Expanded Its Definition in the USA
Most people are aware of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the U.S up to the point of fetal viability (about 6 months). But many are not familiar with the 1973 companion case Doe v. Bolton, which legalized abortion on demand and through the ninth month of pregnancy. Jan. 22, 2017, marks the 44th year that abortion has been legal in USA. With that, here is a quick look at the history of both Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.
Roe v. Wade
Norma McCorvey is the Roe of Roe v. Wade. In 1969, Norma was 22, divorced, homeless and pregnant with her 3rd child (she had placed the first two up for adoption). An adoption agency connected her with two lawyers eager to challenge the Texas statues on abortion. Norma met with her lawyers twice – once for pizza and beer, the other time to sign the affidavit (which she didn’t read). In order to speed things up McCorvey lied and told them she had been raped. By 1973, the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court where it resulted in the legalization of abortion in the U.S. up to the point of fetal viability (about 6 months).
Norma never appeared in court and did not have an abortion. She is now a Catholic and a pro-life activist who has dedicated her life to overturning Roe v. Wade. She has tried to gain a re-hearing of her case so as to overturn the 1973 decision. The Court has refused to re-hear her case.
Doe v. Bolton
Sandra Cano is the Doe of Doe v. Bolton. In 1969, she went to a Legal Aid office in Georgia seeking a divorce and to regain custody of her children. She was pregnant and, being pro-life, was not seeking an abortion. Sadly, along with signing many legal papers at the time, she unwittingly signed an affidavit falsely claiming she was seeking an abortion and was prevented from getting one due to Georgia’s restrictive law. Sandra’s lawyers used this fraudulent affidavit to further their suit to change Georgia’s law. The Supreme Court’s favorable decision legalized abortion through the 9th month and also expanded the definition of “physical health exceptions” to include “all factors –physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age”.
This expanded definition essentially allowed for abortion for any reason at any point in the pregnancy.
Sandra’s efforts in 2006 to reverse the Supreme Court’s decision were met with denial. She died in 2014, still regretful that her name was associated with this case.
Since these two laws took affect, nearly 60 million babies have been aborted in the USA
– that we know of.
Sources and for more in-depth reading: