Abortion is a topic that has proven highly contentious since the dawn of civilisation. For a significant length of time, abortion was seen as an evil action.
But in the 1900s, more and more countries relaxed laws on abortion, resulting in millions of abortions each year. The exact rates vary from country to country.
In the modern age, many countries offer its citizens abortions on demand – meaning the person doesn’t even have to state why they don’t want their child.
In the United States, the change from a pro-life view to a pro-choice view came in 1973, in the case that became known as Roe v. Wade.
In the intervening years, the pro-life movement has licked its wounds, bounced back and are gradually making progress in the hope of one day overturning the laws imposed by the case.
The United States was seen as a bastion of the pro-life movement, and a nation that respected the rights of the unborn.
This included the state of Texas. In 1970, a pregnant woman named Norma McCorvey – who had the alias Jane Roe in this case – filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, who was the District Attorney for Dallas County.
The state of Texas, like most at the time, only made abortion legal when the life of the mother was in danger.
McCorvey was a single woman at the time, and wanted to have an abortion. She was unable to travel to a different state to be able to have the abortion.
Her lawsuit stated that Texas law violated her right to privacy – which was protected by numerous amendments in the US Constitution.
The case grew in traction, and eventually made its way to the Supreme Court of the United States.
The Supreme Court voted 7-2 in favour of the notion that a woman had the right to have an abortion due to being protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
This had a wide-ranging effect on abortion laws throughout America, and led to abortion being available on demand, something that has continued to this day.
Justice William Rehnquist was one of the two to dissent. He stated that the term “private” was not in keeping with its true definition, and that there is no explicit location in any amendment that specifically mentions privacy.
The decision was upheld nineteen years later in the Planned Parenthood v. Casey case.
But in recent years, the tide has turned slightly. The pro-life movement has renewed optimism.
In June 2020, there was a setback, with the Supreme Court narrowly deciding 5-4 to strike down a proposed law in Louisiana which would have limited abortion in the state.
But many “heartbeat bills” have been signed in recent years, which essentially legalise abortions up until a foetal heartbeat is found, meaning that the life of the child has begun.
Norma McCorvey went on to deeply regret her decision. During the legal process, she eventually had the child, and then placed it up for adoption.
She later became a strong pro-lifer, and a fierce advocate for the rights of the unborn. She was baptised as a Roman Catholic – a Christian denomination that adopts a strong anti-abortion stance.
This may have helped her conscience, but the damage was done. However, those in the Pro-Life community are hopeful that one day the Roe/Wade decision will be overturned.