Roe vs. Wade Day is celebrated on January 22, the anniversary of the court case that gave women agency over their bodies. The U.S. Supreme Court made a ruling that legalized abortion throughout the country, with variations from state to state depending on the length of the pregnancy.
No matter what your opinion is on the controversial abortion debate, Roe vs. Wade Day marked a pivotal turn in U.S. history. The anniversary of the landmark court decision is celebrated by people everywhere, especially by women.
Unfortunately, on Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark piece of legislation that made access to an abortion a federal right in the United States. The decision dismantled 50 years of legal protection and paved the way for individual states to curtail or outright ban abortion rights.
History of Roe vs. Wade Day
In 1969, a 21-year-old woman named Norma McCorvey discovered she was pregnant with her third child. Norma wanted to abort the child but faced difficulties due to Texas laws. At first, she wanted to follow the advice of some friends who told her to claim the pregnancy was as a result of rape, believing that Texas law allowed abortion in cases of rape. However, at the time, Texas laws only allowed abortions if it could save the life of the mother. She also attempted to get an illegal abortion, but the facility had been closed down by the police. The frustrations Norma faced are reminiscent of the lack of agency women had over their bodies before the Roe vs. Wade case, where women had to lie or break the law to have a choice in whether to keep an unwanted baby.
Norma went to two attorneys, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, for help. In 1970, the attorneys filed a suit on behalf of Norma, under the alias ‘Jane Roe.’ After the first round of arguments, all seven justices of the court agreed that the law should be struck down, but on varying grounds.
However, Justice Harry Blackmun proposed that the case be reargued, and on October 11, 1972, the case was again argued before the Supreme Court with Dallas County District Attorney, Henry Wade, as the defendant. On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court issued a decision holding that women in the U.S. had a right to choose whether to have abortions without excessive government restriction. The Texas abortion ban was struck down as unconstitutional and an invasion of the right to privacy. Unfortunately, the case dragged on for so long that Norma McCorvey gave birth and the child was put up for adoption.
Roe vs. Wade Day timeline
Connecticut is the first state to pass a statute criminalizing abortion.
Because of the California Therapeutic Abortion Act of 1967, women can travel to California to obtain legal abortions.
In June, McCorvey, the woman on whose behalf the Roe vs. Wade case is fought, discovers she is pregnant.
Pivoting off the arguments of Roe vs. Wade, the case focuses on the undue burden of the spousal consent requirement for abortion in Pennsylvania.
Roe vs. Wade Day FAQs
What is the National Sanctity of Human Life Day?
On January 13, 1984, President Ronald Reagan issued a presidential proclamation declaring January 22, the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day. The day is observed by anti-abortion advocates.
What was the first state to legalize abortion before Roe v Wade?
In 1970, Hawaii became the first state to legalize abortion, although only for the state’s residents. Also in 1970 New York legalized abortion, with no residency requirement. By the time Roe vs. Wade took place in 1973, abortion was also legally available in Alaska and Washington
What was the outcome of Planned Parenthood vs. Roe?
In Planned Parenthood vs. Casey (1992), the court rejected Roe’s trimester framework while affirming its position that a woman has a right to abortion until fetal viability.
How to ObserveRoe vs. Wade Day
Watch documentaries about the case
You can host a movie night with your friends featuring a documentary about the case. If you’re not one for documentaries, you can watch any films inspired by the case or that speak on women’s rights. We recommend “Reversing Roe,” “Citizen Ruth,” or “Obvious Child.”
Donate to pro-choice clinics
Many women’s clinics in the U.S. are underfunded and Roe vs. Wade Day is the perfect day to fund some of them. You can find a local pro-choice clinic and donate some money, no matter how little, to keep them running.
Volunteer at a women’s clinic
It’s not all about the money — you can also donate your time and efforts to your local women’s clinic on Roe vs. Wade Day. They need all the help they can get, and they’ll certainly appreciate your efforts. Just walk up to a clinic and ask what you can do to help.
5 Facts About Abortions
Fewer women are having them
The total number of abortions in the U.S. has been declining year after year, perhaps because of easier access to birth control options.
There are different types
From medication abortion to surgical abortions, there are different types of abortions, depending on how far along you are.
It’s safer than you know
Legal abortions are very safe procedures and less than 1% of abortions in the first trimester lead to complications.
One-quarter of pregnancies are aborted
Roughly a quarter of all pregnancies are aborted annually.
It’s still illegal in many countries
In 26, abortion is denied, no matter the circumstances, while over 50 only allow it if the pregnancy is a risk to the mother’s life or health.
Why Roe vs. Wade Day is Important
It was a landmark in U.S. history
Whatever you feel about it, Roe vs. Wade Day was a landmark in U.S. history. The case changed the interpretation of existing U.S. laws and it will forever be marked as a turning point in our history books.
We love women’s liberation
Roe vs. Wade gave women all over the U.S. the right to choose whether they had to keep an unwanted pregnancy. We love women’s liberation and girl power, so we love Roe vs. Wade Day for reminding us of the obstacles we have overcome.
It’s the only time we understand legalese
Let’s face it — the law can be difficult to understand. Sometimes, it can feel like lawyers are intentionally trying to confuse us with all their big words and obscure language. But on Roe vs. Wade Day, people finally care enough to break down legalese and tell us about law procedures in simple terms.
Roe vs. Wade Day dates