I really enjoyed the presentation tonight regarding the Roe v Wade trial. Before we got into detail behind the case, Mr. Doggett informed us with some background knowledge on the subject. He started by explaining how women were willing to experience excruciating pain, infection and even death just to protect their bodies, regardless of what the law says. He also spoke about how in colonial times abortion was unregulated because giving birth was very dangerous. Over time, the Comstalk Laws were invented as the first effort to criminalize abortions (1860-1960), which made it so abortion was a crime against doctors and not women. Mr. Doggett then explained the three reasons as to why the Comstalk Laws came about as the following: 1.Backlash against suffrage movement/right to birth control movement, 2.Bad for doctors/medical personnel because of competition (midwives), 3. Science of eugenics (“race suicide”-- white women wouldn't produce as many white children). We then learned about a woman named Cheri Finkbiner who was a working mom/media star, got pregnant and struggled terribly with morning sickness. Her husband came back one day from being away for work, with a drug (flutamide) found in Europe for morning sickness. Inevitably, the morning sickness got better, yet the drug caused terrible and severe birth defects that resulted in her baby missing an arm, a leg, and even having a low chance of survival. Cheri then went back to the hospital and appealed to hospital board. Because she was a media star, the newspaper publicized her abortion which resulted in the hospital canceling the abortion. Cheri was then forced to go to Sweden to have the abortion.
After we learned all of the background information, Mr. Doggett began to speak more about the road to Roe v Wade. He first told us about Skinner v Oklahoma (1942) where a man named Jack Skinner was known as a habitual criminal and was prosecuted with the ‘sterilization act’ as a punishment. He then proceeded to challenge the law and eventually took the case to the Supreme Court. Skinner argued the 14th amendment (equal protection under law), and the result of the case was that “A man has the right to procreate”. This sparked a flame, because if a man has a right to procreate, then a women has a right to whether or not she bares a child. Griswold v Connecticut (1965) was the next case we learned about. This case took place at Planned Parenthood (in New Haven, a very Roman Catholic town). Griswold was a woman who was distributing condoms, birth control to married couples. She was soon arrested and told it was “Illegal to use any instrument to prevent conception”. The case went all the way to the supreme court. Griswold argued the 10th amendment and basically called out the ‘police powers’ of states. This case resulted in the decision of right to privacy. Roe v Wade (1970) was the final case we studied that all of the other cases had been leading up to, and it was the most controversial. Norma McCorvey (Roe) was 21 years old, 3 months pregnant, a high school dropout, and came from a broken home. She was soon raped in a ‘reform school’. In 1965 she got a job as a car hop and met a guy who she married that was also 9 years older than her. Six months after marriage she had kid. The man she married wound up being an abusive husband, so she left him and went back to Texas. Her final actual job we discussed was at a lesbian bar. This was important because after that her mother took legal custody over her children. Then, in 1967 she had another affair and another baby who she gave up to father. After that, Norma joined a traveling circus and got pregnant again (4th time). She proceeded to claim that she had been gang raped in circus. Norma pushed to get an abortion but was criticized for being irresponsible and careless, therefore the state believed she should be held accountable and not be given an ‘escape’. After 3 years a decision was made that included the following: 1st trimester: women can get abortion on demand, 2nd trimester: state can impose some limits on women’s access to abortion, 3rd trimester: no abortions are allowed.
In my opinion, the Roe v Wade case is extremely relevant and still important to keep alive in today's society. I think that no matter what a woman's past is, she should still be eligible and not judged by the judicial system for her decisions. I also really liked how Mr. Doggett set up the presentation by giving us background on the road to Roe v Wade, before jumping right into the subject. I feel as though I know a lot more on the case, and cases around it too.