The Importance of Doe v. Bolton

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know! 

Roe v. Wade wasn’t the only significant abortion decision released by the Supreme Court on January 22, 1973. The Court also ruled on the constitutionality of Georgia’s abortion laws, in the equally important but lesser-known case Doe v. Bolton, which the Court first heard in 1971.

The plaintiff, identified as “Mary Doe,” was nine weeks pregnant when she sued the state’s attorney general, Arthur Bolton, for the right to an abortion. At the time, Georgia allowed for abortion for state residents in cases of rape, severe fetal deformity, or the possibility that the mother could sustain a severe or fatal injury to her health. In its ruling, the Supreme Court found that the existence of the three conditions upon which abortion was allowed violated the Fourteenth Amendment and that the residency requirement violated the Privileges and Immunities Clause.

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“I was persuaded by feminist attorneys to lie”

TRIGGER WARNING: the video mentioned below might be upsetting to viewers, as it contains shaming language and pictures of aborted fetuses.

Shortly before the presidential election, former abortion activist Norma McCorvey–previously known as Jane Roe, the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade–released an anti-choice video that urged Americans not to vote for president Obama.

In the video, McCorvey states that she was persuaded by “feminist attorneys” to lie about being raped and wanting an abortion. McCorvey also says that President Obama is a “baby killer” since he supports reproductive rights and abortion.
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Meet Norma McCorvey, Anti-Choice Actress

Norma McCorvey, otherwise known as the Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade, can add “actress” to her wide-ranging resume, with a small role in the psychological thrilled Doonby. Described as a cross between It’s a Wonderful Life and Crazy Heart, Doonby is about a drifter and the citizens of a small Texas town. McCorvey plays one of the townspeople, who tries to convince another woman not to have an abortion.

Despite her association with the pro-choice side of one of this country’s most famous court cases, it’s actually quite fitting that Norma McCorvey is playing an anti-choice woman. After all, that’s the role that she has chosen in real life, too. For years, McCorvey and her long-time partner, Connie Gonzalez, were harassed by anti-choicers; at one point, the harassment—which included shots being fired at her house—got so bad that McCorvey had to move out of state. In a 1994 New York Times profile, McCorvey is open not just about the harassment and fear, but her relationship with Gonzalez, her thoughts on Sarah Weddington, and her role in Roe. Her candor and resolve make what happened later that year and the next all the more surprising.  [Read more...]