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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Roe v. Wade: Saving women’s lives for 37 years

Rattling cages and stoking the fires of political feuds since 1973, Roe v. Wade remains a vital and controversial landmark in the ongoing attempt to protect women’s right to choose. With the fragile hopes of a health care reform bill in the hands of the conference committee and Roe v. Wade nearing its 37th anniversary on Friday, perhaps it’s time to recap on the not-so-basic basics of the abortion argument.

“”Jane Roe”” was a pregnant single woman who questioned the constitutionality of the Texas criminal abortion laws that banned obtaining or attempting an abortion unless such action was based on medical advice in an effort to save the mother’s life. In response, 37 years ago Friday, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman’s relationship with her doctor was a confidential matter, free of government interference.

The ruling stated that the privacy guaranteed to U.S. citizens in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action is “”broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.””

Despite the clarity of this landmark opinion, this decision has been under siege since its publication, with abortion currently forming a major obstacle in providing a passable health care reform bill. While some may feel  they are performing a service to women by protecting them from making the mistake of abortion, regardless of its legality, abortions will continue — only with more pain and health difficulties.

Four years ago, ran an article called “”Life before Roe v. Wade”” highlighting the lives and experiences of three people who helped women searching for abortions prior to 1973.

The Rev. Howard Moody explains that women were forced to meet someone in a parking lot late at night, unaware of “”whose hands she was in — or if she would even survive.”” Mildred Hanson, M.D., describes in the article watching her neighbor, a mother of six, writhe in pain for two days as she slowly crawled toward death after obtaining an illegal abortion. Jane Hodgson, M.D., recalls her volunteer work overseas — women with mattresses soaked through with blood due to a botched procedure — in countries outlawing abortion.

“”I believe legal abortion is a medical procedure that saves women’s lives,”” Hodgson explains, “”It’s not just a matter of choice. It’s a matter of good medicine.””

According to Jessica Whitson, a Health and Sexuality intern at UA Women’s Resource Center, hospital statistics from before Roe v. Wade’s implementation indicate that the number of abortions being performed has decreased, further emphasizing the ineffectiveness of outlawing abortion.

“”By making abortion legal in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade decision,”” Whitson asserts, “”we were able to bring the procedure into a safe atmosphere so that women were no longer being butchered by people who had no health care training.””

Outlawing abortion and refusing government funding is not a solution — just fuel to a hungry flame. Provide comprehensive sexual education, teach the consequences of sex, present the benefits of contraceptives, instruct on correct condom use, supply a safe abortion possibility, but don’t leave women ignorant and unaware without any legitimate options.


— Rachel Leavitt is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at


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