Politico, a newspaper that specializes in news about the White House, the United States Congress, and US government policy, has published a leaked copy of a draft of a Supreme Court decision that would challenge current abortion laws in the United States.
This publication provoked a wave of reactions that goes far beyond the borders of the United States. The news was taken up by the international press and commented on variously, depending on the hope or, to the contrary, the indignation or even rage, which animates the pen of the author.
How is this reconsideration possible? What is the heart of this decision that is shaking all of American society, whether you are for it or against it?
In 1970, Jane Roe, a pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, born in 1947, was pregnant with her third child. She has already given up two for adoption. Living in Texas where abortion was prohibited, she filed a complaint against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County in the southern state.
Unsuccessful, she appealed, and the case ended up before the Supreme Court. On May 22, 1973, the justices of this Court pronounced the famous judgment Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal throughout the entirety of the United States, by annulling the Texas law against this crime.
In 1994, Norma McCorvey published an autobiography, The Jane Roe Affair, before her conversion to evangelical Protestantism. She quit her job at an abortion clinic and campaigned to make abortion illegal. She expressed remorse for her role in the 1973 decision.
In 1998, she converted to Catholicism and published a second book, Won by Love. She explains that her conversion began with the discovery of the life of the child in its mother's womb.
In 2004, she asked the United States Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. She participated in anti-abortion demonstrations and would even be arrested for this fact. She passed away in 2017.
The Documentary AKA Jane Roe
Aired on May 22, 2020 – a significant date – this documentary features an interview with Norma McCorvey, conducted shortly before her death. She states that she was an anti-abortion activist only for financial reasons.
In the controversy that followed, many witnesses, who knew the protagonist of this case well, seriously disputed this testimony, published three years after her death.
The Decision and its Limits
The decision, which set precedent in the American states where similar laws were in force, stipulates that “the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which protects against state action the right to privacy, including a woman’s qualified right to terminate her pregnancy.”
“The Texas statutes…make it a crime to ‘procure an abortion,’... or attempt one, except... for the purpose of saving the life of the mother,” according to the ruling.
Jurisprudence also set the legal framework for access to abortion. This is authorized up to the threshold of viability, i.e. approximately 24 to 28 weeks of pregnancy.
But the Court nevertheless recognized that “the right of privacy, however based, is broad enough to cover the abortion decision; that the right, nonetheless, is not absolute.” “At some point the state interests as to protection of health, medical standards, and prenatal life become dominant,” according to the nine “wise men.”