- ‘Tis the Season: London florist creates $4.6 million Christmas wreath
- No tailgating allowed at Super Bowl XLVIII
- Pentagon to transport African troops to Central African Republic
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend’s shopping jumps to his death
- Ukraine leader to talk with protesters; Washington urges caution
- Pope Francis: A nun saved my life
- Israeli P.M. Netanyahu backs out of Mandela funeral
- Elian Gonzalez makes first trip outside Cuba since custody battle
- U.S., British intelligence agents enter online sci-fi world to spy on gamers
- Sarah Palin to host the outdoors show ‘Amazing America’
A lot happened on one day, but only Roe decision remains relevant
The day abortion was legalized was a blockbuster for news: Former President Lyndon B. Johnson died of a heart attack. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was in Paris, ending the Vietnam War. Hallucinogenic-drug advocate Timothy Leary was apprehended by police. Antiwar activists Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden were newlyweds. Nigeria's worst plane crash killed 176 people. And Nixon administration operative G. Gordon Liddy was in court over a break-in at the Watergate complex.
Virtually buried among the screaming headlines was the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Texas abortion laws in favor of an anonymous, pregnant woman named "Jane Roe."
Women have a constitutional right to abortion, said the 7-2 decision. Although the court set up a trimester scheme to permit some state regulations, abortion was now legally available in all states, often "on demand."
The decision in "Jane Roe" v. Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade was rendered "before a packed gallery," Newsweek reporters said in 1992.
"On that Monday morning in early 1973, [Supreme Court Justice] Harry Blackmun knew he was making history. He had invited his wife to the marbled courtroom to hear his announcement of Roe v. Wade," Newsweek reporters David Kaplan and Bob Cohn wrote.
In Justice Blackmun's opening remarks, he said the court was aware "of the sensitive and emotional nature of the abortion controversy." But based on prior legal decisions, the high court perceived in the 14th Amendment "a right of privacy" that included "a woman's decision whether or not to terminate" a pregnancy.
Newspaper reports were succinct, a la the "High Court Rules Abortions Legal the First 3 Months" headline in The New York Times. Other news reports predicted that the Roe decision finally would settle the issue, and end "emotion-charged hearings" on abortion, The Des Moines Register wrote, and liberate politicians and public servants from dealing with the "distractive issue," The Milwaukee Journal said.
But historian Allan Carlson noted in 1998 that of all the historical events that occurred in early January 1973, only the Roe decision still dominates the public square.
"Few, if any, gatherings will remember Nixon's second inaugural, Johnson's death, the Christmas bombing, or even the end of the Vietnam War," said Mr. Carlson. Instead, the "second-page" Roe decision is what cannot be forgotten.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor. Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Panel seeks 'surveillance' system for gay blood donors
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Embryonic stem cell research falls out of favor as scientists go ethical
- With new HIV research, FDA may let gay men donate blood
- HHS report shows a decrease in blood supply but also a drop in demand
Latest Blog Entries
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
- House votes to reject Obama welfare shift
- Report: Two out of three Democrats support gay marriage
By Tom Fitton
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- CURL: Obama tells a whopper on IRS scandal
- MSNBC host: Obamacare a 'wealthy white men' racist word
- WOLF: The president's other Obamacare lies
- Lawmakers see 'false narrative' of Obama as a terrorist fighter
- Ted Cruz sees legal landmines ahead for Obamacare
- MILLER: Brady Campaign says Colorado recalls due to NRA, not grassroots opposition to gun control
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Obama lied about Syrian chemical attack, 'cherry-picked' intelligence: report
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow