Roe v. Wade’s 50th Anniversary: protests and reminiscence


Maddy Torres

Graphic depicts abortion protests in light of the Roe v. Wade’s decision 50th anniversary.

In January 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade federally legalized abortion for all women in the United States. The landmark decision celebrated its 50th anniversary in January 2023; however, a decision in June 2022 overturned the ruling, leaving abortion rights up to each state. 

Today, instead of commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, we are acknowledging that last year, the Supreme Court took away a constitutional right from the American people,” President Biden, in a White House statement on the anniversary, said. 

History behind Roe

Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old woman from Texas, became pregnant for the third time and decided she wanted to terminate the pregnancy. At this time, abortion was a state-wide decision, and in Texas it was illegal.

Two lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, took on McCorvey’s case after she failed to gain abortion services. As McCovery became the plaintiff for this case, she went by the name “Jane Roe” in front of the Supreme Court. 

In a 7-2 court decision in 1973, the justices explained the nine and 14 amendments are “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.”

Considering the decision happened many years later, McCorvey had given birth to her daughter and gave her up for adoption. At first, McCovery was an activist for abortion rights until later switching her position against abortions. She even formed a group, “Roe No More Ministry.”

June 24, 2022

On June 24, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe, which gave states the opportunity to limit abortion access for all. 

Protests emerged all across the country and even internationally both in support of the decision or against it. 

The first draft of the decision was leaked in early May but voted on in late June. Justice Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Barrett, all voted in favor of the overturning,  while Justices Kagan, Sotomayor and Breyer, voted to keep Roe the law of the land. 

“With sorrow—for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection—we dissent,” Kagan, Sotomayor and Breyer wrote after the decision was released. 

After Roe

Since June, around 14 states have nearly banned all abortion access, while Florida has a 15-week abortion ban currently in effect. 

“Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia have passed abortion bans with limited exceptions, according to the Guttmacher Institute,” ABC News said. 

Riots and protests across the country are being held for both sides of the aisle. “March for life” protests have been going on for years in favor of anti-abortion legislation, and this year was no different. And on the contrary, pro-abortion organizations held protests as well, in hopes of congress federally legalizing abortions once again. 

Vice President Kamala Harris spoke in Tallahassee on the anniversary of Roe, delivering a speech about the 15-week ban that has no exceptions for human trafficking, incest or rape. Planned Parenthood and ACLU have challenged the Florida abortion law and the Florida Supreme Court will hear the challenge in the coming weeks. 

Florida Republicans have also brought up the potential of having a 6-week abortion ban be put into place where if the baby has a heartbeat, abortion would be prohibited. This new bill is called The Florida Heartbeat Act (HB 167). 

“Well, I think the difference is between, uh, the right to life is that another life is at stake. Whereas whether you’re doing stuff is really…if you’ve put something in your body or not, it doesn’t affect other people. So that’s in terms of protecting another life,” Desantis said. “At the end of the day, government was instituted for certain reasons. To protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

With a GOP majority in Tallahassee, new anti-abortion laws are most likely going to be passed. As they are debated over the next few weeks, Governor Desantis is expected to sign these bills.