Women’s rights and a woman’s right to choose were big topics in the 2012 presidential election. Jacksonville lawyers read Roe v. Wade in constitutional law in law school. Whether a Florida attorney has attended Florida Coastal School of Law or the University of Miami, he or she has studied Roe v. Wade. You do not have to be a Jacksonville lawyer to know about Roe v. Wade. Due to the attention that surrounds abortions, people know about this fundamental case addressing women’s rights.
Today is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. As a woman and a Jacksonville lawyer, I think that it is important to give information about this case, so people may understand the background of the case and issues surrounding it. On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court made its decision in Roe vs. Wade. “In a 7-2 ruling on Jan. 22, 1973, the justices declared laws prohibiting abortion violated a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. They also said states could regulate abortion procedures in the interest of a woman’s health or in protecting a potential human life starting at the end of the pregnancy’s first trimester.”
News4jax.com posted an informative article called Before and after Roe v. Wade. This article set forth a timeline about abortions and the laws surrounding them. The timeline is as follows:
1821: Connecticut passed the first US law restricting abortions. This law prohibited “the use of a toxic substance to cause a miscarriage after ‘quickening.’” Other states had similar laws.
1873: A lobbyist petitioned to pass the Comstock Law. This was a federal law that banned “the selling or distributing of materials related to contraception and abortion.”
1930s: Due to the Great Depression more women were getting abortions. This was mainly due to the fact that they could not afford to take care of another person. Some women were able to afford secret abortions. Those that could not would self induce abortions.
1950s: “Hospitals start to form ‘therapeutic abortion boards’ to decide whether doctors can perform an abortion on a case-by-case basis” They were permitted if the mother’s life was in danger.
1955: Planned Parenthood held the “Abortion in the United States” conference. This gave national attention to abortion law reform.
1960s: “Pat Maginnis founds the Society for Humane Abortion, later becoming one of the first people to publicly campaign for legalizing abortion.”
1962: Sherri Finkbine went to Sweden to have an abortion. An American “hospital was initially going to perform the procedure but withdrew its offer after” she told the local media that about the dangers of thalidomide. Thalidomide was a drug she had taken that was associated with birth defects. She told her story to the local newspaper to inform other mothers. “The resulting publicity threw her into the middle of a worldwide debate.”
1969: “Jane” was formed in Chicago. It was created by women that would help other “women find safe and affordable illegal abortions.”
1959: Two landmark cases ruled abortion laws as unconstitutional. The cases were People v. Belous out of California and Doe v. Scott from Illinois.
1970: Some states began to legalize abortions and others passed laws to reform existing abortion laws.
1972: The US Supreme Court ruled that birth control pills must be legal “for all women, regardless of marital status. Before the decision, only married women were able to receive the pill through a doctor’s prescription.”
1973: The US Supreme Court made the decision in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. The Court declared “abortion a right-to-privacy issue and hospital therapeutic abortion boards unconstitutional.”
It may have been 40 years since the Roe v. Wade ruling, but abortions are still a hot button issue in Jacksonville FL. Four decades have passed. People are still protesting and petitioning to end abortions all over the nation. Jacksonville is no different. In downtown Jacksonville FL, hundreds of people “marched around the Federal Courthouse.” “The crowd was made up of priests, pastors, men, women and children. Many prayed the rosery as they walked and help up signs.” (Actionnewsjax.com)