Who are Roe and Wade?

By | Jan 22, 2011

It was on January 22, 1973 that the United States Supreme court ruled on the case Roe vs Wade. Everyone may know that it was this case that struck down the abortion laws in the State of Texas, making abortion a woman’s decision up to the “point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable’. But if you are like me you probably have no idea who were Roe and Wade.

The easiest of these to explain is Wade. Henry Wade was the Dallas County District Attorney when the case was brought forward in 1970. Had it not been for the Roe vs Wade case, Henry Wade would be best remembered as the District Attorney when Jack Ruby went to trial for the murder of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The lost of this decision could have been a career disaster, even though up until that time it was his only trial lost but Henry Wade’s career did not suffer. He continued as District Attorney for another 14 years leaving office in 1986. The Henry Wade Juvenile Center was named for him in 1995 and in 2000, he was named one of the 102 most influential lawyers of the 20th century by Texas Lawyer magazine.

In short the name Jane Roe was an alias used by Texas attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington for Norma McCorvey. It wasn’t until the 1980’s that McCorvey went public with her identity. McCorvey was pregnant and wished to have an abortion claiming that the pregnancy was cause due to a rape. (Since then she has said that was not true.) It took three years for the case to reach the Supreme Court and gave birth to a baby girl who was given up for adoption.

McCorvey has since made the claim that she was used as a pawn by the two lawyers Coffee and Weddington. Coffee at the time was young lawyer, 27 years old and a member of the Woman’s Equity League. She and Weddington had been classmates in law school. Linda Coffee was more involved in the trail portion of the case than the appeal.

Sarah Weddington was 25 when the case was first tried and at 26 is one of the youngest to argue in front of the Supreme Court. It was she who convinced McCorvey to be the plaintiff in the case. Even thought she has said, “I never thought I was walking into history when I started this case”, it is exactly what happened.


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