Roe vs. Wade marks 29 years of debating

By Renee Tomcanin
January 31, 2002

On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court made a ruling that strongly affected women and the entire country. Twenty-nine years later, Roe vs. Wade still causes controversy. President George W. Bush, during his first year in office, has implemented actions with which many supporters of the Roe vs. Wade decision disagree. A debate has begun in the country questioning what is within Bush’s right as chief executive officer and what infringes on a woman’s reproductive rights.

The Roe vs. Wade decision: opposition and support

The decision was the result of a class action suit brought up by a pregnant single woman “challenging the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws,” according to the syllabus of the Supreme Court decision. Roe contended that the laws violated her right to privacy under the 14th amendment and the Due Process Clause, which supports an individual’s privacy. The state of Texas stated that their main concern was to protect prenatal life.

The final decision made by the court was that women have the right to have an abortion “without undue restrictive interference from the government,” according to the ruling. However, certain restrictions were made. The state can restrict abortions in the third trimester.

The decision has caused most people to take sides for or against abortions. Those who support Roe vs. Wade are Pro-choice. They believe that it is the woman’s right to decide. Many circumstances, such as incest or rape among others, lead to the woman’s decision. Pro-choice advocates believe that if abortions were illegal, many women would resort to unhealthy methods, often called back-ally abortions. Sophomore Haven McMickle supports this view. “Let the woman choose. Different circumstances occur,” she said.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Pro-life advocates. They believe that the consequences of abortion are far greater than any “benefit.” According to the Pro-life website,, child abuse has increased from 167,00 reported cases in 1973 to 2,025,200 reported cases in 1987. However, this is not due entirely to abortion, but the effects an abortion may have on a woman’s self-esteem can contribute to more abuse. Abortion also leads to added stress on the woman who has had an abortion and can lead to damaged relationships and even infanticide.

Junior Seth Kline holds the Pro-life point of view. “It takes away some of the consequences for the actions,” he said. Kline agrees that if it will save the life of a woman then it is okay, but these occasions are very rare. He adds, “I’m against it, but then again, I’m not a woman.”

Pres. Bush and the abortion issue

President Bush has made some decisions during the first year of his presidency that have the possibility of overturning Roe vs. Wade on the minds of many people, and many Pro-choice advocates are up in arms.

First of all, many disagree with Bush appointing many “anti-abortion” members to his Cabinet. Vice President Dick Cheney, Attorney General John Ashcroft, and Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson all oppose abortion. According to the Pro-life website Million4roe. Thompson signed many laws as governor of Wisconsin that restricted access to abortion. As Secretary of Health and Human services, Thompson put into effect a law that allows parents of minors access to their health records that include abortions and drug-related hospitalizations that were previously confidential.

Bush has also imposed actions and proposals that have seemed aimed towards curbing abortion rights. One of his first actions as President was to reinstate the Global Gag Rule, which prevents family planning programs in developing nations from receiving funding from the United States if they provide abortion information or counseling. Bush also closed the White House Women’s Outreach Office and proposed in his budget to eliminate contraceptive coverage. Another concern of Pro-choice activists is that Roe vs. Wade is still standing by a slim 5-4 vote. With one Supreme Court justice set to retire, Bush’s appointment could overturn the ruling.

On a state level, anti-abortion activists have taken a different approach to closing abortion clinics. According to Glamour magazine, TRAP laws go through other laws to try and close clinics. These laws often make mandates that force clinics to make renovations, such as raising their ceilings or changing their landscaping. The costs of these renovations cause many clinics to go out of business. Glamour reported that TRAP laws exist in 29 states.

So, is Bush overstepping his bounds as President? Are these actions part of his right or is he being suspect in his methods?

Sophomore Josh Dzielak thinks that Bush is being “sneaky.” He said, “Let Congress decide. They represent the people.”

First-year student Erin Waldie holds the opposite view. “It’s Bush’s right to do as he feels. He is the President,” she said.

Dr. Joseph Romano feels that it is not that whether Bush is wrong or right in his actions; he is acting to uphold the law. However, he is dealing with a political balance. “I think everyone knows his [Pro-life] position,” Romano said. “Politically he owes a lot to the far right.”

Romano also added that Bush had fewer women votes than Al Gore in the 2000 election. “He’s being a politician. He is trying to appease the right and gain women’s support,” he added.

Roe vs. Wade has stood for twenty-nine years despite much controversy. Activists from both sides have tried to impose legislation and actions to support their side. President George Bush has provided a new source of debate and perhaps a limit to how long Roe vs. Wade stands.

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Renee Tomcanin

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