Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 - ten years after the Supreme Court decision

Ireland Baldwin says she was raped while she was ‘completely unconscious’ as a teenager – the Daily Mail

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 - ten years after the Supreme Court decision

Norma McCorvey, seen in 1983 – ten years after the Supreme Court decision

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. A significant verdict legalized abortion across the country, but it divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.

The case was initiated in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old woman living in Texas who was unmarried and sought termination of an unwanted pregnancy.

Due to state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life was in danger, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.

So in 1970, McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas District Attorney. The case was referred to the Supreme Court, at the request of Roe v. Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.

Decision of the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice of abortion, is protected by the 14th Amendment.

In particular, that the due process clause in Amendment 14 provides a fundamental ‘right to privacy’ that protects a woman’s freedom to choose whether to have an abortion or not.

The landmark verdict decriminalized abortions in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions that individual states could decide on. For example, states can decide whether abortions are allowed only during the first and second trimesters, but not the third (usually after 28 weeks).

Striker

Among pro-choice campaigns, this decision was hailed as a victory, which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions performed by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, freedom of choice was seen as a significant step in the fight for women’s equality in the country. Victims of rape or incest could terminate the pregnancy and not feel forced into motherhood.

McCorvey became a born-again Christian in 1995 and began advocating against abortion.  Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017

McCorvey became a born-again Christian in 1995 and began advocating against abortion. Shown above in 1998, she died in 2017

However, pro-lifers argued that it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, was precious. Although the decision was never overturned, opponents of abortion have since encouraged the passage of laws in hundreds of states, narrowing the scope of the verdict.

One such was the Partial Abortion Prohibition Act, signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned the procedure used to perform abortions in the second quarter.

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)

Following the verdict, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she was revealed to be Jane Roe.

McCorvey became a leading, open voice for abortion in American discourse, even working in a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.

However, she made an incredible turnaround in 1995, becoming a born-again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.

In 2003, she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 verdict with the U.S. District Court in Dallas.

The request went through the courts until it was finally rejected by the Supreme Court in 2005.

McCorvey died at a home help home in Texas in February 2017 at the age of 69.

Shelley Lynn Thornton (Baby Roe)

Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe) gave birth to Shelley Lynn Thornton in Dallas in 1970 – a year before Roe’s Supreme Court case against Wade. Shelley was the third pregnancy of a single mother. The day after the birth she gave her up for adoption and then continued to fight for the right to an abortion.

Shelley’s identity became public last year. She waived her right to anonymity, speaking in several interviews about a significant case.

She says Norma used her for ‘publicity’, trying to get in touch with her only when she was a teenager and for the wrong reasons.

‘It really quickly became clear to me that the only reason she wanted to come to me and find me was that she wanted to use me for publicity. She didn’t deserve to meet me. She had never done anything in her life to restore that privilege.

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, spoke in front of the camera for the first time.  Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose famous Roe lawsuit against Wade brought women across America the right to abortion

Baby Roe: Shelley Lynn Thornton, a 51-year-old mother of three, spoke in front of the camera for the first time. Her biological mother Norma McCorvey was Jane Roe, whose famous Roe lawsuit against Wade brought women across America the right to abortion

‘She never expressed sincere feelings towards me or sincere remorse for doing the things she did, saying the things she did over and over again,’ Shelley said last year.

Shelley declined to say whether she agreed with the abortion or not, for fear that both sides in the debate would activate it.

‘A lot of people didn’t know I existed. It doesn’t revolve around me, I wasn’t the one who created this law. I am not the one who created this movement. I had nothing to do with it. I was just a small trifle and, you know, circumstances prevailed.

‘My whole thinking is that,’ oh God, everyone will hate me because everyone will blame me for having an abortion legal. ‘

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