Roe v. Wade has always been a very broad Supreme Court case to me. Never looking much into the details of the case, I did not know what it entailed until Mr. Doggett’s lecture the other night. In 1970, Norma McCorvey, during her fourth and unwanted pregnancy, wanted to argue to the Supreme Court that she had a right to privacy and should be able to abort the baby if so desired. Although, by the time the case got through she had already had the baby and the whole situation had become irrelevant. In this situation as well as many others, one recurring argument that pro-life made is that abortion is only an option if the life of the baby or the mother is in danger, also insest, and rape. The state of Texas saw McCorvey as healthy so they concluded that the baby would be healthy as well, and she told her lawyers she was gang raped but the time to get an abortion had already passed. The state was also protecting the fetus. If the mother wasn’t defending the unborn baby it was up to the other side to make the decision for the fetus. And if the 14th amendment claims “equal protection under the law”, then the unborn baby matters just as much as the mother.
One frequently argued question was “When is the fetus viable?” Is it during the first trimester? The second? Is it only viable in the third? Many argued that it is during all three and as soon as the baby is conceived it’s alive. It wasn't until Justice Blackmun stated that during the third trimester the fetus is able to survive outside the womb. We are lucky today to know from modern medicine that all fetuses are different and can survive earlier than the third trimester outside of the womb. But at the time because they didn’t know this, they were able to proscribe abortions at any time.
Prior to the reading and our discussion with Mr. Doggett I only understood bits and pieces of Roe v. Wade and the restrictions there have been on having abortions. Obviously pro-choice, and pro-life were frequently brought up during this past presidential election but I didn’t realize how many stood on the pro-life end of the spectrum. Maybe it’s some people’s religious belief or it’s just something that they were told was not right when they were growing up. Regardless, and in my opinion, I think it’s important to realize that women are the only people who should be able to decide when they want to get pregnant, or have kids. Reading the article from Pew Research Center and hearing the lecture opened up this new understanding for me about how hard it’s been for women to gain control over their own bodies and try to keep it there. I think it is so ironic how we as American people, have a right to privacy, but at the same time the government feels the need to intrude on our private lives so they can control whether we decide to have kids or not.
In Mr. Doggett’s discussion I found it interesting how in colonial times abortion was regulated but as soon as the Comstalk Laws started criminalizing abortions women started losing control of their lives, and their bodies. Because women were previously gaining power, men felt threatened and the jobs of doctors were now competing with midwives. I think this is an ongoing fight for women because there is a lack of female control in society. Hopefully in the near future there will be no laws against abortions and women will not have to worry about the funding for planned parenthood and have to go back to their unhealthy ways of performing abortions with no medical help.