The resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy last week has many worried that Trump’s replacement on the court will join the other four reliably conservative justices in overturning Roe v. Wade. As a candidate, Trump released a list of 25 judges from which he would pick for the Supreme Court if elected. They were vetted by the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, which is in favor of overturning Roe v. Wade. But what is Roe v. Wade and why is it so important?
What is Roe v. Wade?
What is Roe v. Wade? Roe v. Wade is the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that decreed women have a constitutional right to choose an abortion.
In a 7-2 decision, the court ruled that the Due Process clause of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution, which specifies a right to privacy, encompasses the right to have an abortion.
The case originated with 21-year-old Norma McCorvey, who became pregnant with her third child and elected to have an abortion. The procedure was illegal in Texas except in cases of rape or incest. McCorvey fabricated a story about being raped, which was rebuffed because there was no police report. She attempted to have an illegal abortion but the facility she knew about had closed. Her case was taken up by attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, which took three years to wind through the courts. (In the meantime, McCorvey gave birth put the child up for adoption.)
With the passage of Roe v. Wade, abortion was decriminalized in all 50 states.
What about Roe v. Wade today?
The Religious Right has mobilized against Roe v. Wade almost as soon as it was passed, lobbying for restrictions on an abortion and a return to criminalizing it.
Over the years, many states have chipped away at Roe v. Wade by enacting laws that made abortion clinics financially infeasible to operate. Some states only have one remaining abortion provider.
During the presidential campaign, Trump said that women who have abortions should be punished. “There has to be some form of punishment,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews in an interview before a town hall in March 2016.
Vice President Mike Pence has been a longtime foe of abortion and has vowed that the Trump administration will have the law “consigned to the ash heap of history.”