Talk:Roe v. Wade/Archive 2

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Archive 1 Archive 2 Archive 3


Lead paragraph

The lead paragraph of the article has been changed. The edit summary says, "Edited lead paragraph for style and detail; this version reads better, and is both more concise and accurate." However, there's been no explanation of anything inaccurate. The new version says:

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. Along with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, it held that a constitutional right to privacy that the court had recognized in earlier cases such as Griswold v. Connecticut protected the right to obtain (or perform on a consenting patient) an abortion.

The old version said:

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) is a United States Supreme Court case that resulted in a landmark decision regarding abortion.[1] According to the Roe decision, most laws against abortion in the United States violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision overturned all state and federal laws outlawing or restricting abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe v. Wade is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. Its lesser-known companion case, Doe v. Bolton, was decided at the same time.[2]

I object to omission of so much information. The decision was based on the Due Process Clause of the Constitution. What's wrong with saying that? The decision overturned pre-existing laws. Waht's wrong with saying that? Doe v. Bolton is lesser known. What's wrong with saying that?Ferrylodge (talk) 15:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

  • Well, first, because it's an introductory paragraph. There's nothing wrong with saying that Doe is lesser-known, per se, but it adds words without adding useful information. It's lesser-known - so what? The important point is that there was a companion case, and it was called Doe v. Bolton. That it's lesser-known is extraneous, and while there may be a place for extraneous information in the main body of the article (I'd argue not, but reasonable minds can differ), there's no place at all for such in an introduction, where the goal is to efficiently convey a broad overview of the subject. Likewise, it's not useful in an introductory paragraph to include the discussion of the substantive basis for the court's holding - and that would be so even if you were correct that the decision rested on due process. That was the Casey plurality's view of Roe, see 505 U.S. at 846, but Casey worked a lot of changes to Roe, some of them explicit, some of them amounting to sub silentio revisionism. The article isn't about abortion law as it stands now, it's about what Roe held, and Roe itself prevaricated on the basis for the decision, see 410 U.S. at 153 ("[t]his right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy"). You can argue, of course, that this prevarication didn't amount to much, and that the court was really resting on the 14th amendment, rather than the 9th amendment or on the amorphous Griswold "right to privacy," but the place for that discussion is in the body of the article. In an introduction, it adds needless complexity. Very respectfully, Ferrylodge, I disagree with you on both these issues. The re-writes to both the introduction and "liberal criticism" are, in my view, improvements.Simon Dodd (talk) 16:16, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
    • Ferrylodge, I've tried to accommodate your concerns by editing the entire lead section rather than just the lead paragraph. The basis for the decision, the removal of which from the lead paragraph concerned you, is now tackled explicitly in the second paragraph, which keeps the information you want, but leaves the lead paragraph lean and concise, as I want. Acceptable compromise? Simon Dodd (talk) 16:29, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Editing style

Given that there are disagreements here, might I suggest that we work out revisions here at the talk page, before longstanding material is changed in this featured article?

I am going to revert one more time, and that will be all the reverting for today, because I don't think that edit-warring is a helpful way to proceed here. You accuse the Court of "prevaricating" in Roe v. Wade, which is a very serious charge that you haven't explained. The Court was very clear that the decision was based on the Due Process Clause, and there is no evidence that the Court "prevaricated" about that; the Court merely said that the District Court used a different rationale.

A court can only strike down a statute for inconsistency with a Clause of the Constitution, and it is silly to omit mentioning what that Clause is, in the lead paragraphs. Moreover, discussing a case decades later (Casey) is not appropriate in the lead paragraphs, absent some compelling reason. I have other objections to the recent immense changes to this article, and I wish they could all be discussed and resolved here at the talk page, instead of having a revert war.Ferrylodge (talk) 16:54, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

First - what edit war? With the goal of improving the article, I made some good-faith revisions; you reverted them. I made different revisions that explicitly acknowledged your concerns and made good-faith efforts to accommodate them; you reverted those, too. So let's be clear here: unless the definition of "revert" has been changed without my knowledge, you're the only one who's performed any reverts on this article of the two of us, still less who's engaging in an "edit war." I'm just trying to improve the article
Second, I'm hardly "accusing" the court of prevaricating: they did exactly that in the text quoted. They say that maybe the right to privacy rests on X, as we think it does, or maybe it rests on Y, as the district court felt, but either way, it's there, and that's the point." If you'd prefer the synonymous "equivocate"; that's fine with me. And in any event, my main point is that this statement should be moved to the second paragraph - along with the rest of the description of the holding - to clear the clutter from the lead paragraph. You evidently like the lead paragraph, I'm forced to infer, and don't want it changed; see I think it could be improved, and I think I've been reasonable and fair in trying to accommodate your concerns.
Third, the compelling reason for including Casey is obvious. The ongoing relevance of a case belongs in the introduction if it has been changed, provided the change can be concisely summarized. That is why the introduction to National League of Cities v. Usery notes its overruling by Garcia, for example, or why Dred Scott v. Sandford notes that although it wasn't overruled, it became a dead letter after the civil war amendments. Had Casey overruled Roe, I assume you wouldn't object to the introduction stating as much, and it seems to me that insofar as Casey worked significant changes to Roe -- that's why the court's post-Casey abortion cases (Stenberg, Ayotte and Carhart) cite Casey not Roe -- it belongs in the introduction, if only in very cursory reference.
In order to move forward, then. I will not revert to my last edits - not today, that is - unless we can find consensus on the talk page. That does, however, imply that you are willing to participate in trying to find a working compromise, which means a text different to the existing article. Otherwise your suggestion that we hash it out on the talk page amounts to a request that I stop editing the article and go away - again, see As to the lead paragraph, I propose a compromise that goes back to the revision of the lead paragraph I originally offered but includes your description of the due process basis for the holding. I can't propose an alternative for the "criticisms" section because you've not identified what your outstanding concerns are with my revised edit - the ball's in your court on that one. Simon Dodd (talk) 17:28, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I think it would be good to take one thing at a time. You inserted the following sentence into the second paragraph of this article: "The court based the ruling on a 'right to privacy,' although it prevaricated on the precise location of this right in the Constitution." The word "prevaricate" normally means to lie: "to speak falsely or misleadingly; deliberately misstate or create an incorrect impression; lie."[1] I don't think we should start out the article by calling the Court a bunch of liars, especially not without citing reliable sources.
As to the basis for the Court's ruling, the Court said: that the "right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy." The Court thus clearly said that the liberty language of the 14th Amendment supported the decision, and they never endorsed the District Court's alternative rationale. That much is very clear, and there's no reason not to mention in the lead paragraphs that the Court based its holding on the Due Process Clause. I can produce some reliable sources to verify this, if you like.
Justice Douglas concurred in the Court's opinion, and he also wrote in Doe v. Bolton that "The Ninth Amendment obviously does not create federally enforceable rights." Douglas obviously understood the Court's opinion in Roe as not endorsing a Ninth Amendment rationale, and the Court's language in Roe obviously does not endorse a Ninth Amendment rationale. But like I said, I can dig up some further reliable sources on this point if you like.Ferrylodge (talk) 18:40, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Whether we can agree on the foregoing isn't really relevant; I'm not interested in fighting that battle at this point. I've already offered the concession of including the basis in the lead paragraph and saying that it rested on due process, so I'd reiterate that. Simon Dodd (talk) 20:01, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I also find it problematic to discuss Griswold in the lead paragraphs. The decision in Roe v. Wade did not speak much about Griswold, and even then did so to distinguish Griswold: "The situation therefore is inherently different from marital intimacy, or bedroom possession of obscene material, or marriage, or procreation, or education, with which Eisenstadt and Griswold, Stanley, Loving, Skinner, and Pierce and Meyer were respectively concerned." Additionally, unlike Roe v. Wade, the opinion in Griswold did not rely on the Due Process Clause, but rather relied on a penumbra formed by various other provisions of the Bill of Rights, so Griswold did not serve as any precedent for interpreting the Due Process Clause upon which the Court relied in Roe.
Regarding Casey, if it had overturned Roe, then sure it would be appropriate to mention it in the lead paragraphs of this article. But Casey did not overturn Roe, and did not even slightly modify the central holding of Roe: that women can get abortions for any reason up until viability. Casey occurred decades after Roe, and I think it's best to bring it up later in the article.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:07, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
My instinct is to disagree on Griswold, but I'm happy to leave it out if its inclusion concerns you because (a) go along to get along and (b) leaving it out makes the lead paragraph even leaner without sacrificing any critical content. I continue to strongly disagree on Casey, hoever; it does significantly modify the Roe framework, as the Chief Justice's opinion in that case explains. I agree that the introduction shouldn't dwell on it, but when case X was reaffirmed and modified in case Y, and both cases are important, I think a sentence in the introduction noting such is appropriate.
In sum, I propose the following text for the lead paragraph: "Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. Along with its companion case Doe v. Bolton, it held that a constitutional right to privacy grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment protected the right to obtain (or perform on a consenting patient) an abortion. The decision struck down virtually all state and federal laws prohibiting or regulating abortion." Simon Dodd (talk) 20:01, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
The article presently says in the second paragraph:
The central holding of Roe v. Wade was that abortions are permissible for any reason a woman chooses, up until the "point at which the fetus becomes ‘viable,’ that is, potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks."[1]
Do you agree that this statement in the second paragraph is correct? If so, how was this central holding affected by Casey?
You want the first paragraph to say that Roe, "held that a constitutional right to privacy grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment protected the right to obtain (or perform on a consenting patient) an abortion." But this is simply incorrect. The opinion very clearly said that abortions after viability could be flatly banned by a state. I don't think that the present lead paragraph contains any such inaccuracy.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:41, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Regarding the liberal criticism section, you say that I’ve “not identified what your outstanding concerns are with my revised edit - the ball's in your court on that one.” But have you identified the outstanding concern that caused you to edit this section? You wanted to start the section out with a brief one-sentence paragarph, but one-sentence paragraphs are bad form. You wrote 713 words in place of 380 words, which gives that subject undue weight, and is not concise. You say what the “most prevalent reaction” has been, without citing any source, much less a reliable source; the section previously said that this was “one reaction” without specifying if it’s been the most prevalant. If there’s no paragraph break before quoting Ely, then it is made to seem like he felt Roe reached the correct constitutional result, but this is not evident from the cited sources, and ditto for Tribe, Balkin, Dershowitz, et cetera. You write about “this general heading” without clarifying what heading you’re referring to.
You say that Cox remained agnostic, but the cited source doesn’t support that, and ditto for Lazarus. You say that Wittes was “skeptical of the reasoning” in Roe, but it sounds more to me like he affirmatively denounced that reasoning. Ditto Rosen. Ditto Kinsley.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:35, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
Again, one of my criteria in rewriting the section was to avoid eliminating any of the extant content - my intent had simply been to add the JPS quote, but when I got here and saw a chaotic section that was really pretty badly written and in need of improvement and organization, it seemed an obvious thing to do to improve the style without eliminating any content. I passed no judgment on whether the material presently in there ought to be there or not: once we've dealt with the style issue, to be frank, I'm inclined to eliminate the quotes from Cox, Lararus, Rosen et entirely.
You say my edit increased the word count, but that's not the metric. Concision doesn't have anything to do with word count, it has to do with efficiency: is the maximum information conveyed in the fewest words, and is all the information conveyed relevant. "expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form but comprehensive in scope." [2]
I think the best way to move forward on this is to restore my last edit, and then fix whatever problems remain with it - not to revert to an inferior previous version. Some of your criticisms have merit, others don't, at least in my view, but the most important point is that all of those can be addressed by improving, not reverting. Improvement is, I had thought, almost invariably preferred over reversion for non-frivolous good faith edits.[3]Simon Dodd (talk) 20:01, 2 May 2008 (UTC)
I have no objection to inclusion of the Stevens quote in the section about liberal criticisms, if a reliable source is also cited that confirms his reputation as a liberal (despite his own characterization of himself). It would really be nice if we could please proceed from there incrementally. I'm not trying to own the article, but at the same time Wikipedia is supposed to operate by consensus. So, if stuff is added to the article, there ought to be consensus to do so. I've explained my concerns, and still do not understand why you think the section in question is poorly written. It's been stable for many months, including through a featured article review. Cox, Lazarus, et al. were quoted in the footnotes, you then suggested moving the quotes into the main text, and now you seem to be suggesting that they be completely removed from the article. I'm not following what you view as the problems with the section. My suggestion and request would be that you copy the section onto this talk page, and then indicate by bold or strikethrough the parts that you find most objectionable.Ferrylodge (talk) 20:30, 2 May 2008 (UTC)

Nixon & LBJ

This edit added the following sentence: "For Nixon, the day of the ruling was really poignant; just hours after the Supreme Court handed down the ruling, he was leading the nation in mourning after learning that his predecessor, Lyndon B. Johnson, died." I'd like to remove this for several reasons. First, the image caption to the right already says that LBJ died the same day. Second, there's no cite regarding how poignant this was for Nixon; LBJ was a Democrat who Nixon may well have despised. Third, the language is not encyclopedic ("the ruling was really poignant"). Fourth, the poignancy of LBJ's death does not have much to do with this article, and maybe should go in the LBJ or Nixon articles.Ferrylodge (talk) 18:23, 31 May 2008 (UTC)

other countries

I think the article should compare the legal principle of Roe vs Wade to law in other countries of the world. Does any other nation consider access to abortion as a "right" that lawmakers are forbidden to touch? CharlesTheBold (talk) 03:10, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Here's some info about it.Ferrylodge (talk) 03:15, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Women's rights advocates

I feel confident that I can find sufficient additional cites for something very like the following. A few rewrites to tighten up the language also. I welcome constructive criticism of this. The pro - abortion rights side of this issue is conspicuously lacking. Not necessarily a PoV problem, but a NPOV problem certainly.

"Women's rights advocates contend that legislation governing a person's bodily processes is a violation of privacy. They stress that it is a right for a person to choose parenthood. Not only are the rights of the mother curtailed by control over abortion, but those of the child; a child of an unplanned pregnancy is not, all other things being equal, given the economic social, and familial opportunities of one for whom the world is prepared."

The last part of the above proposed edit is a little grandiose. Suitable for a speech, but not WP. I feel confident, again, that I can come up with something more suitable. And to follow, a quote from a prominent member of the feminist movement that illustrates at least 5 issues in this controversy, at my count, in 5 sentences. Greer is no Chomsky, but she is master of the taut sentence.

"Compulsory motherhood is not ennobling...most women denied abortions end up loving their issue just the same. Whether they love them just the same as they would have if they had wanted them is of course unverifiable...The compelled mother loves her child as the caged bird sings. The song does not justify the cage nor the love the enforcement."
-Germaine Greer [1]
Looking forward to constructive criticism of the above. Please cite phrases from my text when referring to them. Give links to elsewhere on WP, or outside links, to illustrate points, for the benefit of other editors in the discussion. Answers will not be given to any criticisms or assertions that do not include these basic requirements for discussion. I trust you will. If the shoe doesn't fit, don't wear it. Anarchangel (talk) 03:56, 27 October 2008 (UTC)

The problem is that the cited book by Germaine Greer does not mention Roe v. Wade anywhere. The full text of the book is online, so you can double-check.
It would be far preferable to find a source that makes this same point, but ties it in to the Constitution and to Roe v. Wade, like this source does. I'll make the switch.Ferrylodge (talk) 02:41, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

From the same section: "While a majority of Americans believe that abortions performed in the first trimester should generally be legal, a majority also believe that second trimester abortions should generally be illegal." Where does that say Roe v Wade? Quote restored. Anarchangel (talk) 05:53, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Two wrongs don't make a right. Quoting from a book that nowhere mentions Roe v. Wade is original research. And removing tons of stuff that does specifically address Roe is borderline vandalism, especially when it's done without any discussion.[4] As far as "anointing of sources as 'Liberal'", which source do you have in mind? The footnotes confirm all of the self-identifications. By the way, are you User:IronAngelAlice? Your name and your edits are very similar.Ferrylodge (talk) 16:13, 3 December 2008 (UTC)


The passage read "Since it is a possibility that life begins at conception it is unconstitutional to take away a fetus' rights.". This was untrue, as nothing that exists only as a possibility can possibly be used as a basis for any law. And don't start with some rewording of what I just said, like, all crimes are only a possibility until they are committed. I mean, using a possibility as the basis for the law, the reason for it, the overwhelming need of society that requires something as drastic as a law.
Experimenting, I changed the passage to read "Since it is a possibility that life begins at conception it is a possibility that it is unconstitutional to take away a fetus' rights.". I looked at it, and I knew it had to go. This is a truism, ie an assertion stripped of meaning by qualifications, that still contains the ghost of the PoV pushing within it. As before, it remained WP:OR: original research without a basis in scholarly tradition. It remained undocumented, naturally, being OR, and therefore failed WP:CITE. Should there be, somewhere, citations to back it up, as OR and not a part of reliable debate on the subject, it would still be WP:FRINGE. I don't delete for being uncited, I don't usually revert without explanation, but this material is a grievous infraction of -all- of those wiki rules, and an obvious one.
It may be instructive for doubters of these facts, and my motivations, for I know of at least one, to note that purported unconstitutionality of Roe is addressed in the following paragraph, and the purported rights of the foetus are presented a sentence or two before. I had neither intention nor desire to remove these sentences; they are well written. They are uncited, but as I mentioned before, I don't delete for lack of citations as a rule. They are mainstream arguments, and most importantly, they do not make suppositions, let alone declare that such suppositions disprove the constitutional basis of a law. Anarchangel (talk) 05:19, 9 November 2008 (UTC)


The cited polls suggesting that support for Roe vs Wade drops when polled samples are informed of the limitations it places on state legislation regarding abortion before 6 months is not referenced properly here. The questions that this refers to (such as -Please tell me if you think abortions should be legal or illegal in your state under each of the following circumstances: the woman does not like the gender of the fetus) are not asking the respondents about Roe vs Wade, but about their views about abortion. This sentence should be re-written to reflect what the polls reflected- that support for abortion decreases in specific circumstances when compared to others. I understand why it was written the way it currently is, but support of Roe vs Wade is NOT the same as support for abortion, and confusing the two is an error that should be avoided. The second reference, by the way, is an article that merely references the first reference, and is redundant. The polling company that conducted/released this poll specialises in research and providing strategic advice to Republican candidates, by the way. Just in case anyone missed the nuances of their polling. Ninahexan (talk) 07:38, 10 March 2009 (UTC)


This article repeatedly writes "mother" instead of "pregnant woman" or "woman". A mother is someone who has given birth, which is certainly not always the case for women seeking to have an abortion. Thus, I think "mother" should be changed to "woman", "pregnant woman" or something more appropriate. (talk) 16:01, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

(undent)The phrase "life of the mother" is a well-known colloquialism that remains accepted terminology, even among pro choice advocates. The Roe v. Wade decision itself uses the word "mother" 43 times with reference to a pregnant woman, and that's just in the majority opinion. While it might be preferable in the view of some people to never use that word in this article, and to perhaps replace it with "pregnant woman" or "person who is only marginally related to the thing she aborts", I don't think that would be in accord with WP:NPOV. Nor should we change it to "murderous fiend who kills her unborn" or "female organism." It's okay as-is, which has been accepted for many years here in this article.

Additionally, dictionaries and other reference books often use the word "mother" prenatally, e.g.: (defining placenta as a "temporary organ joining the mother and fetus");
American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary (placenta permits "metabolic interchage between fetus and mother", and also defining quickening as "signs of fetal life felt by the mother");
Encyclopedia Britannica Concise ("nutrients and oxygen in the mother's blood pass across the placenta to the fetus");
On-Line Medical Dictionary, Department of Medical Oncology, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne ("movement of foetus in the womb perceived by the mother");
Medilexicon (defining quickening as "signs of life felt by the mother as a result of fetal movements");
Wordnet, Princeton University ("mother first feels the movements of the fetus");
Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary ("motion of a fetus in the uterus felt by the mother"). Ferrylodge (talk) 18:17, 25 April 2009 (UTC)

"Partial-birth abortion"

The article uses the term "partial-birth abortion" without quotation marks as though in had the same linguistic and scientific standing as the medical term "dilatation and extraction." In fact, "partial-birth" is a political marketing term invented by anti-abortion groups for emotional impact and used deliberately by the authors of the U.S. legislation for the same reason. Responsible media outlets, as far as I have seen, always use quotes or identify the origin of the term.

I'm not changing the article because I don't want to get into another pointless editing contest with whoever inserted that language. I'm hoping the group or the Wikipedia staff will consider adding the quotes. Billfalls (talk) 00:50, 11 May 2009 (UTC)

I've rephrased the article a little bit, in reponse to your concern.Ferrylodge (talk) 15:23, 13 May 2009 (UTC)


  1. ^ Greer, Germaine (1986). The Madwoman's Underclothes. Little, Brown and Company. pp. p. 115. ISBN 0-87113-308-3. 

In regards to the contention that "McCorvey falsely claimed her pregnancy was the result of rape." in the section "History of the Case", the citations (numbered 4 & 5) are broken links. Are there additional verifiable links to back up this statement, or is this claim not currently verifiable? Jdblue82 (talk) 01:17, 2 June 2009 (UTC)

Defenses of Roe?

I notice that we have a whole lot of criticisms of the decision - both conservative criticism which disagrees with the decision completely and liberal criticism which generally approves the result, but things the decision itself is flawed to varying degrees. These, especially the liberal critiques, are discussed at considerable length. And yet we do not have any discussion of scholarly defenses of the decision, which I'm fairly certain do exist. Obviously you won't find too many people who will say that Blackmun's opinion is one of the all-time great Supreme Court opinions (although one could say the same thing about Earl Warren's opinion in Brown v. Board), but as it stands now we seem to imply a general consensus that the decision is basically nonsensical or worse. I don't think that's an accurate summary of the state of the debate. Isn't this a rather enormous failing for what is supposed to be a featured article? john k (talk) 06:06, 13 May 2009 (UTC)

Interesting point. This Wikipedia article is very clear that public opinion has consistently supported Roe. This article is also very clear that the courts have also consistently supported Roe. So, we included a section about the counter-intuitive and notable fact that many liberal scholars think it was a poor decision. So, this Wikipedia article does not seem lopsided to me. And it had this same balance during the Featured Article Review. Do you have particular sources that you think ought to be included or mentioned?Ferrylodge (talk) 15:28, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
I don't know enough about the subject to say for certain what there is. My sense is that there's a general consensus that the decision was not very well-crafted (based on a general consensus that Blackmun was not a particularly brilliant justice). Beyond that, though, there's a pretty wide range of opinion. Scott Lemieux, who is a professor of political science at Hunter College, had a series defending Roe a few years ago (see here for the third part, with links to the first two). He's also written extensively against the idea that Roe provoked a major countermobilization. Lemieux is not a lawyer, and blog posts are not peer reviewed (not that law review articles are peer reviewed...) but he is an academic who writes and teaches about constitutional law. I'd assume that one can find other examples. I'm not at all opposed to the current material that is in the article. It just seems unchallenged, which strikes me as problematic. john k (talk) 18:08, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Unfortunately, blog posts (even the best ones) are not normally considered reliable by Wikipedia. See WP:RS. In any event, I don't think it's correct to say that the current material in the article is unchallenged. The Wikipedia article discusses that a majority of Supreme Court justices and a majority of the American people have challenged and prevailed over the anti-Roe folks for several decades. It's notable when liberal, pro-choice folks oppose or object to Roe, just like it would be notable when conservative, pro-life folks endorse or praise Roe, and if you can provide examples of the latter then that might be worthy of inclusion here in this Wikipedia article, IMO.Ferrylodge (talk) 18:24, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Again, that's not the point. That the American public (which does not care about legal reasoning) supports Roe, and that the Supreme Court has declined to overturn it says nothing about what the consensus academic view of the decision is. You seem to basically be saying that because we would expect liberal scholars to support the decision, it wouldn't be notable to point out liberal scholars who support the decision. That seems clearly absurd. What is notable is to describe the current consensus of academic opinion, which would include discussion of positive opinions of the decision by legal scholars. It would actually probably not include discussing random pro-lifers who endorse Roe, because that (unlike liberal criticism of Roe) is a virtually unheard of position that we would likely give undue weight to by discussing. Again, I don't know the legal literature well enough to know what's out there, but I have serious doubts that the article gives an accurate summary of the state of the debate, which is what wikipedia articles are supposed to do. We talk about the "controversy," but so far as I can tell only talk about people who don't like the decision. Insofar as liberal scholars take ambivalent positions on the decision, we only describe the parts where they disagree with Roe. This is POV, so far as I can tell. Subtle, but definite. john k (talk) 23:57, 13 May 2009 (UTC)
Well, like I said, it's notable when liberal, pro-choice folks oppose or object to Roe, just like it would be notable when conservative, pro-life folks endorse or praise Roe, and if you can provide examples of the latter then that might be worthy of inclusion here in this Wikipedia article. This type of info is counter-intuitive and relatively uncommon; if we were to also include the intuitive and common stuff then this article would probably be much longer and much less interesting. And certainly the approach we are now taking is even-handed; it does not favor anti-Roe liberals over pro-Roe conservatives.Ferrylodge (talk) 00:05, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
I will just say again that I disagree with your entire approach. The point of NPOV isn't to balance anti-Roe liberals with pro-Roe conservatives (who, so far as I know, really don't particularly exist). It is to show the state of the debate. That includes describing "intuitive and common stuff". john k (talk) 19:09, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Okay, I guess we'll just disagree, and wait to see if others have a viewpoint about it. IMO, the arguments for and against Roe are well-described in this article, and so is the very controversial nature of the whole thing.Ferrylodge (talk) 19:24, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
The article does do a good job of describing Blackmun's own arguments in the opinion. The "Controversy" section, however, only discusses opponents of the decision. Insofar as it discusses liberal critics who think the court "came to the correct result but came about it the wrong way," it only discusses the "wrong way" aspects of their opinions, not the "correct results" part. john k (talk) 20:25, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
As far as the people who think Justice Blackmun did everything correctly, this article explains that most people feel that way; what more is there to say? Blackmun's reasons are fully spelled out, and if someone feels the same way then why should we repeat the same reasons?Ferrylodge (talk) 20:55, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
That's nonsense. Almost no legal scholar thinks Justice Blackmun did everything correctly, and only legal scholars are qualified to judge whether he did "everything" correctly (ordinary people are qualified to judge whether they like the results of the case, but not really what its legal merits are). Beyond that - I specifically mentioned the case of people who think the outcome was correct, but the reasoning was not - we do not say anything about their beliefs about what the proper reasoning was, which would certainly not qualify as repeating the same things that Blackmun said. And even people who largely defend the original opinion would presumably be replying to critics, and thus say different things than Blackmun himself, since there were not yet any critics when Blackmun was writing the decision. At any rate, I continue to find your perspective on this bizarre and incomprehensible. john k (talk) 00:31, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

(undent)There is a huge variety of theories about what Roe v. Wade should have said, according to people who think that it came to the right result but the wrong way. We footnote a book on the subject: "What Roe v. Wade Should Have Said; The Nation’s Top Legal Experts Rewrite America’s Most Controversial decision." We also give a detailed example:

Denying the abortion right has been equated to compulsory motherhood, and some scholars (not including any member of the Supreme Court) have argued that abortion bans therefore violate the Thirteenth Amendment: “When women are compelled to carry and bear children, they are subjected to 'involuntary servitude' in violation of the Thirteenth Amendment….[E]ven if the woman has stipulated to have consented to the risk of pregnancy, that does not permit the state to force her to remain pregnant.[19]

We could also describe all the other various theories; e.g. basing it on the Equal Protection Clause, or the first amendment ban on religious discrimination, et cetera. But the thing is, this article is about the actual Roe v. Wade rather than the various imaginary Roe v. Wades. Do you really think we should detail the various alternative rationales that people have proposed to reach Blackmun's conclusion? And what about all of the rationales that lead to a somewhat different conclusion? For example, some people think that abortion should only be legal up until quickening instead of viability, or that it should only be legal up until an embryo becomes a fetus instead of quickening. All we've tried to do here is to focus on the actual case, and not get detoured.Ferrylodge (talk) 00:40, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

What we should do is try to give the state of legal scholarship about the decision. I don't see why this would be controversial. john k (talk) 01:30, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
You mean describe how much of the legal community or the law school professors think it was a good decision that should be retained? If you know about a poll or survey or other source about that, then of course it might be worth including. I guess part of the problem I'm having here is that no specific info is being suggested now for inclusion in the article.Ferrylodge (talk) 02:13, 15 May 2009 (UTC)

Change of Opinion by Roe

It is important to note in this Roe v Wade article that Roe (aka Norma McCorvey)the person that took this case to the Supreme Court has since changed her opinion and become a vocal supporter of the Pro-Life movement. (talk) 01:51, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

[5]Ferrylodge (talk) 01:53, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Did anyone else notice that the quote from McCorvey wasn't from Congress, but from a senate subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights in the West Australian parliament? Where is the evidence to show that she gave this testimony in the US congress? Ninahexan (talk) 06:32, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

It's just reprinted in the Australian source. She didn't go to Australia.Ferrylodge (talk) 06:34, 3 June 2009 (UTC)

It wasn't re-printed, it was actually read out to the WA parliament. In the minutes (Hansard) it was stated that her testimony was for the senate subcommittee on the Constitution, Federalism and Property Rights in the West Australian parliament. Where is the evidence to show that she actually submitted this testimony to the US congress? If there is no evidence of that then it should not be stated, obviously. Ninahexan (talk) 02:41, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

The Parliament of Western Australia has no Senate.Ferrylodge (talk) 04:52, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

The point I am making is that there seems to be a lack of evidence to suggest that she actually did present this testimony to the US congress, and that a reference to it in an Australian political process (made by an anti-abortion advocate) is not a proper reference. The process of presenting it there under oath was also not appropriate. It is a wonder that it was allowed, though most likely no-one present cared enough to challenge. If this testimony was actually submitted to the US congress then surely there will be direct references, rather than an obscure Australia reference. Ninahexan (talk) 08:12, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I've added a further link to the footnote.[6]Ferrylodge (talk) 13:33, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

It seems more likely that this was an affidavit rather than sworn testimony, if it was submitted (though the reference you gave isn't available outside of the US, so I can't check to see whether it is relevant). Ninahexan (talk) 03:07, 11 June 2009 (UTC)

Images in section: Controversy

Albert Wynn is a person, not a movement. A politician, yes, supporting the movement, yes, but he is not mentioned in the article, nor is there any indication that he is noteworthy with respect to its content. Only the sign he is carrying gives any indication that he is anything but a tourist in the Capitol. A shot of a crowd in the manner of the image above would be more appropriate. Just as soon get rid of both the images; the sign with Obama on it is iffy too. Anarchangel (talk) 11:57, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

I've shortened the caption, for the time being.Ferrylodge (talk) 13:37, 5 June 2009 (UTC)

changed word order in second sentence in lead

I made a minor change, but I think any visible changes to controversial articles require justification. And I have way too much time on my hands.

The original lead said,

I rewrote to:

However you jiggle the precise text, it should use at least two clauses, the first clause establishing the right to privacy, the last clause relating that right to abortion.
Possible alternatives might include permutations with the following:

Reason 1: by using separate clauses for the legal issue and the social issue, we coordinate them and give favoritism to neither (which, for me, is a big challenge with legal articles that are both theoretically and socially engaging.)
Reason 2: by putting the right to privacy at the beginning of any clause mentioning abortion, we bring the sentence into conformity with the two similar sentences by Justice Harry Blackmun quoted in the article:

  • "[the] right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."
  • "We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation."

I told you I have way too much time on my hands. Agradman cries when yelled at/makes occasional mistakes 03:51, 17 June 2009 (UTC)


I'd like to know why the term "pro-life" (so widely misused by abortion opponents) is capitalized in this article. I'm sure that the thinking behind capitalizing it is just as ridiculous as their usage of the term. I'd like to see the justification for capitalization. (talk) 23:33, 5 July 2009 (UTC)

Um, the only place in the text of the article where it's capitalized is in the public opinion section. Because it's the first word in a sentence.Ferrylodge (talk) 01:39, 6 July 2009 (UTC)
L.M.A.O. Deftly-handled.  ;) - Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 02:23, 6 July 2009 (UTC)

Lead -- two proposed changes.

Extended content

I've been looking at this lead for a while. It's quite nice, but there's one change I've always wanted to see: conjoining the separated sentences that describe when a mother may abort her baby. I'm wondering if you'd approve of this change:

Assuming you approve of this revision, I'd like to propose one further change -- namely, I don't like how we integrate the definition of viability. I have two problems with it.

  1. First, my understanding is that it violates a copyediting rule, namely, that you don't integrate a quotation mid-sentence if that quotation contains more than one sentence.
  2. More importantly, I prefer to insert quotations only when the concept is liable to being misinterpreted; beyond that, when a more succinct paraphrase exists, it should be used. In this instance, "at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks" is just verbosity for "between the sixth and seventh months of pregnancy". Even if my language is slightly more generalized (it no longer connotes the surprise in "may occur earlier, even at"), that notion is not necessary for the the lead, nor is it particularly important, since technological advances are constantly changing these numbers.

Thus, my proposed revision is as follows:

Thoughts? Agradman talk/contribs 05:37, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

(I'm a mess; please comment below this line)

Seems reasonable. Not sure why your first changes were even reverted. -Andrew c [talk] 13:43, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

(undent)As I understand, you're suggesting these edits:

I'd suggest this instead:

Ferrylodge (talk) 16:03, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

I no longer stand behind this proposal, since I've discovered that the text I was modifying misstated the law. See my proposed changes to the lead below, thanks. Agradman talk/contribs 20:17, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

New structure section

Regarding the new section, please see Wikipedia:MOS#Bulleted_and_numbered_lists: "Do not use lists if a passage reads easily using plain paragraphs."

Also, this is a featured article, so it would be nice if large changes could be discussed at the talk page first. Thanks.Ferrylodge (talk) 17:50, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Here's my proposed change:
Extended content


The majority opinion is organized into twelve parts preceded by a brief preface.

Background and procedure
Part I briefly outlines the challenged Texas abortion statutes. 410 U.S. 113, 117 (1973). Part II characterizes the factual and procedural backgrounds of Jane Roe's and Mary Doe's litigation, including the District Court's rulings regarding the procedural questions (here, justiciability, standing, and abstention) and the merits (here, the requests for declaratory judgment and injunctive relief). 410 U.S. 113, 120 (1973). Part III is a single paragraph resolving a question of Federal Court procedure -- namely, that the opinions in Mitchell v. Donovan and Gunn v. University Committee do not foreclose review of both the injunctive and the declaratory aspects of a case of this kind when it is properly here on appeal under § 1253 from specific denial of injunctive relief, and the arguments as to both aspects are necessarily identical[1] 410 U.S. 113, 123 (1973). Part IV issues the court's decision on the procedural questions described in Part II. 410 U.S. 113, 123 (1973)
Part V is a single paragraph introducing the discussion of the merits, led by the following:
410 U.S. 113, 129 (1973)
Part VI surveys the history of abortion regulations (in seven subparts: 1. Ancient attitudes. 2. The Hippocratic Oath. 3. The common law. 4. The English statutory law. 5. The American law. 6. The position of the American Medical Association. 7. The position of the American Public Health Association.) 410 U.S. 113, 129 (1973).
Part VII summarizes the "[t]hree reasons [that] have been advanced to explain historically the enactment of criminal abortion laws in the 19th century and to justify their continued existence" ("a Victorian social concern to discourage illicit sexual conduct"; "abortion as a medical procedure"; "the State's interest - some phrase it in terms of duty - in protecting prenatal life"), concluding that "[i]t is with these interests, and the weight to be attached to them, that this case is concerned."
  • Here the Court dismisses the first of these interest from its consideration, noting that Texas does not advance this justification, and that "no court or commentator has taken the argument seriously."
  • Thus, the relevant state interests are in "protecting the health of the pregnant woman [and] protecting the potentiality of human life". (language from 410 U.S. 113, 156 (1973))
410 U.S. 113, 147 (1973)-152.
Part VIII inquires whether a woman's right to privacy constitutes a countervailing force that could limit the reach of these state interests, and concludes that it does:
410 U.S. 113, 152 (1973)-156.
Part IX addresses, and rejects, the legal arguments presented by both parties as to how "fundamental" the woman's right to privacy in pregnancy, and as to how "compelling" the "state interest" is in regulating abortion. 410 U.S. 113, 156 (1973)-162.
  • In subpart A, it rejects the contention "that the fetus is a "person" within the language and meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment" -- thus dismissing the state's claim "that the State's determination to recognize and protect prenatal life from and after conception constitutes a compelling state interest."
  • In subpart B, it explains why "it is reasonable and appropriate for a State to decide that at some point in time another interest, that of health of the mother or that of potential human life, becomes significantly involved," i.e. why the privacy right in pregnancy would be "inherently different from marital intimacy, or bedroom possession of obscene material, or marriage, or procreation, or education" -- thus dismissing Roe's claim to "an absolute right that bars any state imposition of criminal penalties in the area".
Part X determines just how "compelling" the state's two "important and legitimate interest[s]" were. 410 U.S. 113, 162 (1973)-164.
It begins by asserting that these interests are "separate and distinct," adding that "[e]ach grows in substantiality as the woman approaches term and, at a point during pregnancy, each becomes 'compelling.'"
  • It times the "'compelling' point" for the state's interest in the mother's health "at approximately the end of the first trimester", "in the light of present medical knowledge;" explaining therefore that "for the period of pregnancy prior to this "compelling" point, the attending physician, in consultation with his patient, is free to determine, without regulation by the State, that, in his medical judgment, the patient's pregnancy should be terminated."
  • It times the "'compelling' point" for the state's interest in potential life "at viability", because "the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother's womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications." On these grounds, "If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion during that period, except when it is necessary to preserve the life or health of the mother."
Part XI succinctly summarizes the Court's legal conclusions, explaining that a Texas-style criminal statute was unconstitutional, and recapitulating the permissible extent of state regulation in each of the three Constitutionally relevant time periods of pregnancy (i.e. divided by "approximately the end of the first trimester" and "the stage subsequent to viability"). 410 U.S. 113, 164 (1973)-66.
Part XII resolves the present dispute: it struck down the Texas statute and characterized the relief that should be accorded to Roe. 410 U.S. 113, 166 (1973).
  • In this case, I think that a section entitled "synopsis" or "structure", whose purpose is to summarize twelve sequential sections, is appropriate for bullets ... and helps dismantle the mystery of the case for some people. I also disagree with your characterization of the other stuff as "minor." It is certainly relatively minor, which is why it merely appears in the synopsis and is omitted in the ===analysis=== section. Agradman talk/contribs 23:33, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

As mentioned below, your interest in the article is commendable, and I'd be glad to work with you toward improving it, but please keep in mind that it's already been through the wringer many times, so it might be best to approach changes incrementally.
Your diff still looks a lot like a list, and not one that will captivate many readers. Saying stuff like, "Part I briefly outlines the challenged Texas statutes" is really going to be a turn-off, I'm afraid. We are supposed to say whatever is significant about the challenged Texas statute, and merely saying that the court does so is not notable. Virtually every court case outlines the pertinent statutes, so there's nothing in that sentence really interesting, and it will cause readers to go away to some more scintillating Wikipedia article. Likewise, if we say, "Part III is a single paragraph resolving a question of Federal Court procedure," that doesn't even hint at whether it's a significant question of procedure, or an insignificant run-of-the-mill question of procedure, nor is there any indication whether that issue is discussed above or below in the Wikipedia article. My advice? Just look for stuff in the Wikipedia article that you can clearly improve substantially, and make concise suggestions that will give you a better bang for your buck.Ferrylodge (talk) 22:50, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
  • This is a strange and rather unexpected response. You seem to be saying that the notability standard applies to individual sentences within articles, which is rather extreme. Also, I think there are a lot of readers out there who have never read a supreme court case and are too intimidated to approach one; a presentation of the structure of such a case is notable in itself. Also, the header ===structure=== makes it quite clear to such a reader that this section is not an analysis; that's why we use the header ===analysis=== afterwards. Sentences like "Part I briefly outlines the challenged Texas statutes" and "Part III is a single paragraph resolving a question of Federal Court procedure", do this reader a service by indicating that the details are relatively arcane (read: obscure but notable).
  • Yes, I'm happy to approach the article incrementally. I just would like to invite others to comment before we dismiss this proposal. Agradman talk/contribs 23:20, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
It's still not too late for you to sign comments that you've previously made. Just add four tildes (~~~~). As for your list summarizing what's in every section of the majority opinion, I think you will find such a list absent from perhaps 99% of Wikipedia articles about court cases. That does not mean that the people who contributed to those articles "didn't have legal training."Ferrylodge (talk) 23:28, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Further proposed changes to lead

I have the world's most boring internship, so I've had plenty of time to look over this case. First of all, the lead mischaracterizes the case. It is not true that a woman may seek an abortion under any condition prior to viability. This becomes immediately apparent when you read the new "structure" section I created.

Here is the new proposed text:

Roe v. Wade , 410 U.S. 113 (1973),[2] a landmark case of the United States Supreme Court, is one of the most controversial and politically significant cases in U.S. Supreme Court history. In disallowing many state and federal restrictions on abortion in the United States[3], Roe v. Wade prompted a national debate that continues today, on questions including whether and to what extent abortion should be legal, who should decide the legality of abortion, what methods the Supreme Court should use in constitutional adjudication, and what the role should be of religious and moral views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the nation into pro-Roe (mostly pro-choice) and anti-Roe (mostly pro-life) camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.
Right to abortion. The social controversy surrounding the case stems, in part, from its narrowing of permissible state regulation of abortion. The court tied the permissibility of such regulations to the mother's current "trimester" of pregnancy, based on its observation that the risks to a mother's health increase at the second trimester, and that the fetus becomes viable (i.e. "potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid") at the beginning of the third. Thus, the Court held that, during the first trimester, a mother may abort her pregnancy for any reason, since at this time the state's interest in the health of the mother or her fetus is least compelling; during the second trimester, the State may "regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health" (which defined in the companion case of Doe v. Bolton[4]); and during the third trimester, the State may "regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother". In determining the timing of the third trimester, the court noted that, according to medical consensus, viability is "usually placed" at the seventh month of pregnancy, "but may occur earlier, even at [the sixth month].")
Constitutional interpretation. The legal controversy surrounding the case stems largely from one of the grounds on which it rested these conclusions -- namely, the determination that the constitutional right to privacy, guaranteed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, extends to pregnancy.
You say, "it is not true that a woman may seek an abortion under any condition prior to viability." However, this Wikipedia article never said that. This article says that a woman "may abort her pregnancy for any reason, up until" viability. Of course, the state can make sure that the procedure is safe and healthy for the woman, but still she can get the abortion for any reason. If you would like further cites about this, then I'd be glad to oblige.
Generally speaking, your interest in the article is commendable, and I'd be glad to work with you toward improving it, but please keep in mind that it's already been through the wringer many times, so it might be best to approach changes incrementally. Thanks.
Also, please sign your comments.Ferrylodge (talk) 22:39, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
It's just a thought - and maybe it should be tabled for now to avoid overcomplicating matters - but isn't the observation about the right to privacy slightly problematic? Roe said that the so-called right to privacy previously held to exist in Griswold applied to abortion. The existing text may be understood by those not familiar with the case to mean that Roe is the taproot for the right to privacy rather than an application of it. And a dubious application at that, as Justice Rehnquist's dissent observes; that this was an issue on which swords were crossed in the case makes it all the more important to get it right. - Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 22:46, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
There was a suggestion recently to cross out that sentence. I agree that it could be improved.Ferrylodge (talk) 22:52, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
Good point -- I had just absorbed that from the original text; I've revised it above. Agradman talk/contribs 23:23, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Texas abortion statutes

Per the advice of Ferrylodge, I'll try to limit myself to incremental changes for the moment.

I just created an article Texas abortion statutes, summarizing the statutes at issue here. At some point we might find a way to integrate this wikilink somewhere into the body text. Agradman talk/contribs 01:07, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Before we wikilink it, you might want to reconsider changing the name of the new article. Is that article also going to cover current Texas abortion laws?Ferrylodge (talk) 01:11, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Okay, it's all wlinked, thanks. Good going. Just heard Walter Cronkite died.Ferrylodge (talk) 01:31, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

Abortion on demand

the practical effect of Roe V Wade (which was meant to be read in conjunction with Doe) was abortion on demand. The legal reasoning and historical evidence can be taken from this article:

excerpt: ... This is the famous “trimester framework” of Roe. And the focus of all misleading commentary that seeks to portray Roe as “moderate” or a kind of “compromise”—between the claims of women seeking abortions and the claim of any state seeking to protect prenatal life—is on those words in Blackmun’s paragraph (c) that say the state may “even proscribe” abortions after viability. Surely, some say, this refutes any notion that Roe meant “abortion on demand” throughout the entire course of pregnancy. The fact that, “in appropriate medical judgment . . . the preservation of the life or health of the mother” might justify exceptions being made to such a proscription did not seem to obviate the prohibitory power of the state altogether.

A few lines after the passage above, however, Justice Blackmun pointed his readers to another case decided that same day, Doe v. Bolton. Whereas Roe concerned a Texas statute broadly prohibiting abortion and dating from the mid-nineteenth century, Doe was a dispute over a Georgia statute only five years old at the time, and reflecting the reformist compromises meant to ease abortion prohibitions that were under way in many states in this period. In Roe—again, immediately following the framework above—Blackmun said “that opinion [in Doe] and this one, of course, are to be read together.”

Let us do just that. Overturning Georgia’s tight standards on when threats to a woman’s health would justify an abortion, Justice Blackmun wrote in Doe that a physician’s

medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age—relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman.

When such “factors” as these—“emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age”—are all declared to “relate to health” in the “medical judgment” of the doctors who perform abortions, then it may be fairly said that the rule in Blackmun’s paragraph (c) in Roe’s trimester framework is swallowed up by its exception. If a woman would be distraught by the prospect of becoming a mother, if her boyfriend is threatening to leave her, if she would have to cut short her progress through college, if she simply declares to the abortionist “I don’t want this baby”—any reason the doctor will accept is a perfect and complete shield from the state’s prohibition of post-viability abortions, no matter how close to a timely childbirth the mother is, and no matter how good the prospect for a successful birth with a healthy mother and child. In practice, it will suffice if the woman gives the physician no reason whatsoever. He is in the abortion business, and she has to come to him for the “procedure”; plainly her “emotional” or “psychological” state is such that she associates the termination of her pregnancy with a restoration of her “health.” If an official inquiry were to be made by state authorities after the abortion, the physician need cite no more than his “medical judgment” to this effect.

END EXCERPT —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jeravincer (talkcontribs) 12:13, 7 August 2009 (UTC)

Subsequent cases

I know there have been several review cases, such as Planned Parenthood vs. Casey and several others since 1973, someone should put them up. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:22, 17 August 2009 (UTC)

Posner quotation in lead

I've (again) removed the quotation from Richard Posner on his view of the right to privacy from the lead. The lead is a place to briefly summarize the most relevant points of the subject (see WP:LEAD). While Posner is undoubtedly a notable jurist, I don't think it's appropriate to quote him, in isolation, in the lead when we quote no other individual views of Roe or its implications. Posner's views on the decisions are probably notable enough to deserve mention in the article, but not in this context in the lead. The Posner quote was reinserted by an IP as "a clarification of what the vague and undefined right to privacy is." I find that justification insufficient; the right to privacy is a complex gray area, so we should not "clarify" it by citing a one-liner reflecting a narrow (and by no means undisputed) individual view of it without context. MastCell Talk 23:13, 23 August 2009 (UTC)

no mention of roe's own objection

Why does this article totaly ignore the fact roe has recanted and is now one of the people trying to over turn it?--Shimonnyman (talk) 01:53, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Ignore it? See Roe v. Wade#Activities of_Norma McCorvey. MastCell Talk 05:28, 11 October 2009 (UTC)
wow my bad i dont know how i missed that lol i guess i was distracted --Shimonnyman (talk) 20:37, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Inherent Flaw

Roe v. Wade is not about the right to abortion, as many seem to think, but is more about the implied right to privacy. This is usually overshadowed by abortion, as controversial as it is, but it is not correct in the official sense; therefore, a large part of this article is misinformation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:06, 16 February 2010 (UTC)

A two-fold flaw relates to this statement in the "Controversy" section: "Some pro-life supporters suggest – contrary to the holding in this case – that life begins at fertilization (also referred to as conception), and should therefore be protected by the Constitution" It is a biological fact, not a political statement, that a fertilized cell is alive. However, the implication, just because a fertilized cell is alive, that the Constitution automatically protects that life is also flawed. It is the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution, that has this statement in it: "... all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." The only place in the Constitution that includes the word "life" is this one (from Article 3): "The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted." Obviously that has nothing to do with abortion.

The earliest Amendment that uses the word (twice) is Amendment 5: " No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation." An anti-abortionist might argue that every single abortion must therefore be preceded by "due process of law", based on that --except for one little detail, which is indicated by Section 1 of Amendment 14 (the only other Amendment that includes the word "life"): "Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

The explicit reference to "all persons born" therefore fails to grant any right-to-life to the unborn. Can it be argued that Amendment 5 still applies? Possibly--except that the word "person" is nowhere defined in the Constitution! Some might now reference the Declaration of Independence, in that the word "men" can be equated with "mankind" and therefore "human beings" and "persons", regardless of age-after-conception. On the other hand....

Note that the U.S. Constitution and its Amendments do not use the phrase "human being" anywhere, but do use the word "person" a great deal. And there is a very significant piece of evidence that the two things, "human being" and "person", are not always the same thing, legally speaking: The U.S. Constitution requires that a Census of all "persons" be conducted every 10 years --the Founding Fathers were directly responsible both for that part of the Constitution and for the specification of what data should be collected in the very first Census of 1790. Unborn human beings have never been counted as persons in any Census!, including the current Census of 2010. It should be very clear, then, that just as one should not count one's chickens before they hatched, the attitudes of the writers of the U.S. Constitution did not include the notion that unborn human beings qualified as persons. Reference:

Personally, I like the Constitution specifying "persons" and not "human beings". Remember the movie-and-TV series Alien Nation? Why do you suppose the aliens picked the United States as a place to immigrate to? Best Answer: The Law of the Land, the Constitution, did not discriminate about the definition of "person"! Likely all intelligent-enough beings, human or otherwise qualify as persons, while unborn humans (and probably most unborn/unhatched aliens, too, not to mention brain-dead adult humans on life-suppport), are not intelligent enough; they are merely animal minds in animal bodies, undeserving of the degree of automatic-right-to-life that the Constitution grants persons. V (talk) 19:06, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

I've tweaked the article to try to address your concern. Please keep in mind WP:Not a forum. Your argument is against a position that neither the majority nor the dissent in this case took, so even if you cite a reliable source that argument is of only marginal relevance here in this article.Anythingyouwant (talk) 20:58, 4 June 2010 (UTC)

Public Opinion

The statistics/polls in the public opinion section appear to be somewhat dated. The chart does not appear to reflect current sentiment on the issue. Unless anyone thinks having a chart with dated information is useful... I will remove it. Alternatively if anyone has a chart that reflects the current opinion of the country that would be an even better solution. Lordvolton (talk) 15:15, 31 March 2010 (UTC)

I think a dated chart is useful. This is an historical issue and so the historic public opinions are relevant. If a more up-to-date chart can be found it could replace it, but the information in the current chart should not be summarily discarded. --Dwane E Anderson (talk) 19:39, 21 October 2010 (UTC)


the trimesters described in the intro are wrong, i think. the first trimester is from conception to when the mother is more likely to be harmed by abortion than by birth: "until the end of the first trimester mortality in abortion may be less than mortality in normal childbirth". the 2nd trimester ends at viability. --dan (talk) 20:23, 15 April 2010 (UTC)

You're correct. The intro was wrong. I fixed it. The trimester scheme was not the central holding of this case. The main holding relates to viability. (talk) 01:24, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
There is an aspect of the "viability" definition that needs to be mentioned here, at least. Modern medical technology has enabled unborn humnan bodies to be viable considerably earlier than in any the many millennia during which that technology did not exist. THis implies that as soon as someone successfully develops an artificial womb, even a just-fertilized egg could be considered viable. It therefore may be unwise to define the third trimester in terms of viability. Not to mention that I'm certain I had encountered a different definition that I don't-recall-precisely just now, and will have to look up --but I think it noted that at the start of the third trimester is when the brain connects to the spinal cord, and thereby becomes able to communicate with the rest of the body. This definition would be true regardless of available technology, so long as that tech didn't interfere with the natural and typical growth process. V (talk) 15:20, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Meanwhile, there is an aspect of viability to describe that has nothing to do with trimesters, but also involves technology. We just about have the ability to cut someone's head off and keep both it and the body alive, separately. There are actual situations I've read about where such a procedure might be the only way to save someone's life ( ). Barring such an emergency, depending on where the cut is made, it is possible that the body might be viable without significant life support. Reference: --the head, of course, would never be viable without a great deal of life support. Now, the reason I mention this has to do with a completely different topic of medical research: "regeneration". There is a large desire to be able to regrow lost limbs and so forth. Should such a medical breakthrough ever be achieved, then it should be possible for a detached head to grow a new body, and of course for a headless body to grow a new head. If we were asked which way to go, to save the life of a "person", which would we recommend? Is the body the person, or the mind inside the head? I think the answer is obvious, that the mind is the person and not the body. A new head grown onto an old body will become a different person altogether, just like twins are different persons (and clones will be different persons). But do you see any contradiction in this paragraph, regarding the person and viability? It seems to me that one can only conclude that the two things don't have to have anything to do with each other! Indeed, the fact that we use a lot of life-support technology to save people who have extensively damaged bodies (even when we know the bodies cannot naturally grow mostly-healthy again), but eventually disconnect the brain-dead, only reiterates the idea that persons are associated with a significant amount of working brainpower, regardless of how viable are the attached bodies. Which consequently means, for unborn human bodies, that viability should have nothing to do with any abortion debate, ever. V (talk) 15:20, 9 June 2010 (UTC)
Generally speaking, courts only address proven, existing facts. So, it might be best to bring up those concerns at the article on viability (fetal). There's also another kind of viability: the point in prenatal development when a human becomes likely to survive until birth (instead of being miscarried), but the Court did not address this other kind of viability so it probably wouldn't fit into this particular article (commenters about the case haven't mentioned it much either).Anythingyouwant (talk) 15:41, 9 June 2010 (UTC)

Subsequent cases

What does everyone think of adding the case of Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri v. Danforth? That seems like an important case to me given that it relates directly to Paternal rights and abortion and requiring spousal consent for an abortion. But then again I am not sure of what criteria were used to select the cases presented here. So I will just wait for other opinions. —Othniel Kenaz 01:18, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

There are 4 cases covered now in that section: Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Stenberg v. Carhart, and Gonzales v. Carhart. I'm kind of inclined to erase Webster and Stenberg, because they don't seem as notable and pertinent as the other two. But if we keep all four, then perhaps Danforth would be okay too. What do you think?Anythingyouwant (talk) 01:24, 28 May 2010 (UTC)


Multiple acts of vandalism in the last few days. Maybe this should be locked? (talk) 04:58, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

December 2010

I just want to mention that is not a recognized reliable source, which is why I reverted. See WP:RS.Anythingyouwant (talk) 01:28, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

English being not my mothertongue ... ...
If one could understand how much i regret now having inserted the previous factual entry into the article, an act which came from my yet too impulsive-irreflected nature, in spite of the forseeable outcome; Will i never learn?
My sincere apologies and warm regards. -- (talk) 19:09, 13 December 2010 (UTC)

Thorough summary section

This section of the article is completely unsourced, and is properly tagged that way. I'm going to remove it for now. The lead provides a summary, so I don't see a need for another summary, or a through summary, or an extremely totally thorough summary, et cetera. If there are things in this thorough summary that are notable and covered by third party sources, then we can keep them, but otherwise this "thorough summary" may derail the reader from reaching the following parts of this Wikipedia article.Anythingyouwant (talk) 00:10, 25 December 2010 (UTC)


The fact box states that the case was argued on December 13, 1973. It should say December 13, 1971. See Reference 30, page 8. (talk) 11:53, 23 January 2011 (UTC)

False statements?

The last paragraph of the opening of this article states:

"Both supporters and opponents of Roe have sometimes mischaracterized the decision’s effects. For example, a pro-choice claim is that repeal of Roe would result in thousands of women per year dying from illegal abortions. A pro-life claim is that the female suicide rate worsened because of Roe. Neither claim is true."

The problem with this is that we cannot prove, even based on the source, that neither claim is true. I believe it would be better worded to say that "most authorities on the subject believe that neither claim is true" or some variation of that sentiment.

There is no way to tell that a repeal of Roe would not result in thousands of women per year dying from illegal abortions because Roe has not been appealed. The second claim falls apart in a similar matter (measuring suicides is very difficult).

If no one disputes this change I will make it within a day or two. - (talk) 06:03, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

I'll go ahead and change "Neither claim is true" to "Neither claim is well-founded". That seems to address your concern, and is a bit more cautious, though I think the cited source supports either version. Thanks for the comment.Anythingyouwant (talk) 07:27, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
How about "both claims are speculative," which seems closer to the truth?- Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 11:25, 4 April 2011 (UTC)
"Neither claim is well-founded" is fine. If someone claimed the world is flat, we wouldn't call that speculation. The cited source presents solid evidence that both claims are false. I can quote if necessary.Anythingyouwant (talk) 16:33, 4 April 2011 (UTC)

The second paragraph of the intro reads: "The Court later rejected Roe's trimester framework, while affirming Roe's central holding that a person has a right to abortion up until viability." This is clearly a reference to Planned Parenthood v. Casey. And it is incorrect. Please read Casey carefully. O'Connor's opinion is divided into sections. Some sections are supported by 5 justices (a majority), some 4 justices (a plurality), and some 3 justices. The "essential holding" as described by the majority opinion is: (1) the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability; (2) a confirmation of the State's power to restrict abortions after...viability; (3) the principle that the State has legitimate protecting the health of the woman and life of the fetus. The part of the opinion which rejects the trimester framework did not get the vote of 5 justices and, therefore, is not law. Please see Blackmum's Concurrence and Dissent in Casey for a summary of what is and what is not still law because of Roe. (As an aside, every time I blatant error like this a moderator yells at me that I should put it in the talk page first. So, please, do review the actual case (not whatever PBS says the case is) and make the appropriate adjustment. Thank you)). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:47, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

please do not link resources to other wikipedia pages

if you create links in an article you might as well link to your citation if at all possible. for example, the constitution and it amendments are available online as are the court documents. other links on the page have no context to the subject matter, religion is linked to a broad characterization rather than religious viewpoints or arguments made in context while others are not. it will be more work but it will add greater prosperity. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:54, 1 May 2011 (UTC)

"Repeal" of Roe v. Wade

In the last paragraph of the introductory section, there is a reference to the potential "repeal" of Roe v. Wade. My understanding is that a court case cannot be "repealed." It can be appealed, overturned, or reversed; only legislation can be repealed. Since this is a Supreme Court decision, there is no recourse for appeal, so Roe v. Wade could be overturned or reversed (each of which suggests a different set of consequences). Does anyone with a firmer grasp of legal theory want to weigh in on this? (talk) 03:01, 6 April 2011 (UTC)Matthew

We don't really have a good or uniform term for what happens when the underlying law is changed in a way that obviates a decision by the Supreme Court, although it happens more commonly than laymen realize. The challenge is to recognize that when Congress passed the Ledbetter Act, for example, it didn't (and couldn't) say that the court got Ledbetter v. Goodyear wrong; what actually happens is that the law is changed and so the decision is simply no longer applicable to the new law. Yet every time it happens, we cast around for concise language to describe what has happened. "Overturns" probably comes closest, and I agree with the comment above that it's must closer to the mark than "repeal," which seems to be about as specifically incorrect as any term could be.- Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 03:20, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Overturning Roe is often referred to as "repeal", maybe because of the alleged legislative character of the decision (this is analogous to the phrase "legislating from the bench"). Both pro-choice and pro-life people have often referred to "repeal" of this decision. I have no objection if it's left the way it is in the lead. Alternatively, it could be changed to "overturned" or the like.Anythingyouwant (talk) 04:14, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Sure, but that usage is incorrect and doesn't make much sense. The court could overrule Roe, or the Constitution could be changed so as to override, overturn, obviate, etc., Roe, but it will never be "repealed." That term is legislative in common use, and is etymologically incompatible with either of Roe's possible fates (from rapeler, re- "back" + apeler "to call" [7]). Since "overturn" is broad enough to encompass either outcome, that would be my preference.- Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 13:42, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
A comparable case is Dred Scott v. Sandford, which was reversed by the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment (in the Fourteenth Amendment article, it is referred to as being "overruled"). Cheers! bd2412 T 14:00, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
You could use 'invalidated' or 'rendered invalid'. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Related WikiProject discussion

Editors who are interested in this article or the topic of Supreme Court articles in general may be interested in taking a look at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject U.S. Supreme Court cases#Roe v. Wade. NW (Talk) 20:28, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Controversy section

As a general rule, sections named "Controversy" or "Criticism" should be avoided (see essay WP:Criticism). Alternative section titles that are less inflammatory yet cover the same material include:

  • "Reception"
  • "Public reception"
  • "Public reaction"
  • "Public response"
  • "Support and Opposition"

In articles I've edited that have "Controversy" or "Criticism" sections, I've found it helpful to rename the section, then move/change material to fit. It generally improves the article. In this article, the Controversy section includes material like "In response to Roe v. Wade, most states enacted or attempted to enact laws limiting or regulating abortion ..." which really isnt a controvery, it is just a manifestation of opposition. Also, I note that this article contains a section named "Public opinion" which could perhaps be merged with this Controversy/Reaction/Response section. On the other hand, Roe is certainly controversial, so I have no heartburn leaving the section as is. Just thinking out loud. --Noleander (talk) 21:46, 10 February 2012 (UTC)

Both of the sections you mentioned definitely need to be reworked and restructed. Perhaps a level 2 header with "reception", further divided into "legal" and "political"? Some of the stuff in there could be booted into a separate subsection of "Role in subsequent decisions and politics" (which also needs to be redone; there is no need to rehash every moment of Stenberg, Carhart, etc.). I'm just thinking aloud too. Best, NW (Talk) 21:54, 10 February 2012 (UTC)
Okay, I'll tackle those sections, generally following the guidance you suggest immediately above. --Noleander (talk) 19:44, 11 February 2012 (UTC)
In general, much of the article seems to focus on the negative opinions of Roe v. Wade, and not much in the way of support. It violates the neutrality code of Wikipedia. I recommend an entire reworking to either include varying opinions (including a larger scope of public polling instead of just one that seems to indicate waning support), or reducing the opinionated quotes altogether. Seeing as it's 2012 and the most recent cited public opinion data is from 2009, it's also getting outdated. Gimmethoseshoes (talk) 06:24, 18 February 2012 (UTC)
The article reflects reality. Virtually no one—not even the Supreme Court, which abandoned everything but the result in Casey; not even those who even those like Justice Ginsburg who support the result—defends Roe itself, as distinct from the abortion right that it created. For the article to give equal time to positive coverage would be a clear example of Okrent's law and thus a WP:Undue problem.- Simon Dodd { U·T·C·WP:LAW } 20:56, 21 February 2012 (UTC)

"In McCorvey's favor" or "declined to grant injunction"?

This sentence in the Prior History section doesn't make sense to me:

The district court ruled in McCorvey's favor on the merits, and declined to grant an injunction against the enforcement of the laws barring abortion.

Maybe I'm mis-reading the multiple negatives in the sentence, but if they ruled in McCorvey's favor, wouldn't the injunction have been granted, rather than declined? LarryJeff (talk) 20:06, 26 March 2012 (UTC)


I was disappointed to see how little content there was about the legal history of the case (as opposed to its political history). I'm not a lawyer, but I did read Linda Greenhouse's book on Justice Blackmun yesterday. I used that book to expand the article a slight bit. Any suggestions or improvements would be much appreciated. NW (Talk) 22:17, 28 December 2011 (UTC)

  • I came here to learn more about the specific case, and was greatly disappointed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:16, 15 February 2012 (UTC)

For legal history and precedent, reading the actual Supreme Court case did wonders for me: — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:30, 21 March 2012 (UTC)

  • Speaking of legal history, I happen to have a photograph of Sarah Weddington's personal copy of the Roe v Wade decision which includes signatures of the various Justices. I'd love to contribute it but the page is locked. Killfile (talk) 15:35, 29 March 2012 (UTC)

Edit request

Rehnquist's name is misspelled.

Fixed Thanks. Dru of Id (talk) 04:33, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Legal section doesn't meet NPOV

The Legal section is completely devoted to legal criticism of Roe v. Wade. It doesn't even discuss Blackmun's defense of his own decision. It gives the impression that the legal community is universally critical of the decision, which is far from the truth. This section needs to give at least a cursory mention of opinions from the legal community that agree with Roe v. Wade. Also, the sentence about Judith Jarvis Thomson doesn't belong in the legal section, as she was not a legal scholar. Kaldari (talk) 21:11, 7 March 2012 (UTC)

I agree. Sorry for not responding sooner; I'm still recovering from the ArbCom case on all things abortion.
Looks like this is also a case of manipulating sources to advance an agenda. For example the legal section contains this gem...

Justice John Paul Stevens, in a 2007 interview, averred that Roe "create[d] a new doctrine that really didn’t make sense," and lamented that if Justice Blackmun "could have written a better opinion[, that] ... might have avoided some of the criticism."

Rosen , Jeffrey  (27 September 2007 ). "The Dissenter". New York Times . Rosen notes that Stevens is 'the oldest and arguably most liberal justice'.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

The actual source...

Abortion is another area in which Stevens has insisted on the duty of the government to act impartially rather than favoring some groups over others for sectarian reasons. He has suggested that restrictions on a woman's right to choose may be unconstitutional because they reflect religiously motivated views about human life — thus violating the government's responsibility under the First Amendment to be neutral between religious and secular viewpoints. "I think the less judges have to decide the better, and I frankly look at who should decide this," he told me. "Obviously, I think basically the woman is the person most affected by it and has tremendously important interests; better to have her decide these questions with her own counselors and guidance than to have judges and legislators deciding something like this."

Stevens says he thinks if Roe v. Wade had been written more narrowly, the court might have avoided some of the criticism that ensued. "In all candor," he told me, "I think Harry [Blackmun] could have written a better opinion. I think if the opinion had said what Potter Stewart said very briefly" — namely that the right to marital and family privacy previously recognized by the court included a right to choose abortion — "it might have been much more acceptable, instead of trying to create a new doctrine that really didn't make sense."

When he went through the confirmation process in 1975, just two years after Roe, Stevens recalled, he was not asked a single question about it. Only later, because of the reaction that followed Roe, did abortion become a central issue in national politics. "I'm really not sure that it's fair to blame the court for the hostility that's come on, but I do think that a better opinion might have avoided some of the criticism."

Rosen , Jeffrey  (27 September 2007). "The Dissenter, Justice John Paul Stevens". New York Times. 

1. The main quote used in the article is taken out of context.
2. The quote used in the reference is meant to be read as "See, even the most liberal justice, ever, thinks Roe is crap and that woman don't have any right to an abortion and never did. Like ever."
3. The subtle use of just "The Dissenter" for the reference title implying Stevens doesn't support Roe.
4. Designed to imply Stevens thinks Blackmun is a moron.
Dollars to donuts this is not the only source being misused in the section. Shot me. —ArtifexMayhem (talk) 08:11, 15 April 2012 (UTC)
Thanks for the research. I've changed the section on Stevens to accurately reflect the meaning of his statements. Kaldari (talk) 07:52, 29 April 2012 (UTC)

Needed: improved citation, Roe and Doe discussion.

"The Court later rejected Roe's trimester framework, while affirming Roe's central holding that a person has a right to abortion until viability.[1]" What needs to be cited here is the actual Court decision(s), which are freely available online, and not just a TV news story.

Also, the article leaves the impression that the viability criterion is the one that prevails—does it? Whatever the actual fact of the matter, there needs to be at least some discussion in the article of Roe's interaction with Doe v. Bolton, which practically speaking seems to allow abortion through all nine months. (talk) 19:39, 22 May 2012 (UTC)

Edit proposal for State Laws regarding Roe

The last sentence of the State Laws Regarding Roe section reads "Mississippi Legislature may have unlocked a way to make abortion illegal without having overturn Roe v. Wade." This sentence is problematic, in part owing to its blatant grammatical errors, and in part due to its speculative, unencyclopedic tone. Would anyone with editing capabilities be willing to either rewrite the sentence, or omit it altogether? (talk) 13:42, 16 July 2012 (UTC)

I found the sentence problematic as well, but I think it's important enough to warrant more than the one sentence...The way it's worded sounds more like a sensationalistic headline, but that could be forgiven if it actually explained the "way" they "unlocked" -- e.g. excessive regulations that apply exclusively to abortion that are known to be unattainable for at least one clinic -- MS already ad very few clinics, and the most recent TRAP law (the gem used by the legislators, by the way --"Targeted Regulation for Abortion Providers") would have closed their last one. Also, Mississippi isnt't alone in trying to outlaw abortion via TRAP laws; they've become more common since the Tea Party Revoluion in 2010. (talk) 03:03, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

Concise summary of effects?

A friend of mine was arguing that the states are currently allowed to outlaw abortion. Of course I came here looking for a good response to that. Can you beileve I didn't find one? Something like "Roe v Wade made it illegal for both the state and federal government to ban abortion in the first trimester."? Also, maybe how many of the states had outlawed abortion before it? —Darxus (talk) 01:35, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

States are free to, and frequently do, write laws or amend their state constitutions in violation of the Constitution. They just can't enforce such "laws". The short version...

To summarize and to repeat:

1. A state criminal abortion statute of the current Texas type, that excepts from criminality only a lifesaving procedure on behalf of the mother, without regard to pregnancy stage and without recognition of the other interests involved, is violative of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(a) For the stage prior to approximately the end of the first trimester, the abortion decision and its effectuation must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman's attending physician.
(b) For the stage subsequent to approximately the end of the first trimester, the State, in promoting its interest in the health of the mother, may, if it chooses, regulate the abortion procedure in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health.
(c) For the stage subsequent to viability, the State in promoting its interest in the potentiality of human life may, if it chooses, regulate, and even proscribe, abortion except where it is necessary, in appropriate medical judgment, for the preservation of the life or health of the mother.
2. The State may define the term "physician," as it has been employed in the preceding paragraphs of this Part XI of this opinion, to mean only a physician currently licensed by the State, and may proscribe any abortion by a person who is not a physician as so defined.

Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973) at 164

Would it help if this was included in the summary of the Court's ruling? — ArtifexMayhem (talk) 08:45, 31 August 2012 (UTC)
That would probably be an improvement, but I'd still prefer something much shorter. Approaching one sentence. —Darxus (talk) 17:06, 31 August 2012 (UTC)

Minor grammar error

The second sentence under "Supreme court decision" has the word "with" one too many times. G6JPG (talk) 00:45, 7 November 2012 (UTC)

"Burger and Douglas' concurring opinions and White's dissenting opinion were issued \\with along with// the Court's opinion (talk) 01:40, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

New stats

As of Jan 13, Seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should stand, according to new data from a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, as the landmark Supreme Court abortion-rights ruling turns 40 on Tuesday. [8] Could someone please add this info if appropriate? Thanks. Gandydancer (talk) 02:55, 12 April 2013 (UTC)

removing POV tag with no active discussion per Template:POV

I've removed an old neutrality tag from this page that appears to have no active discussion per the instructions at Template:POV:

This template is not meant to be a permanent resident on any article. Remove this template whenever:
  1. There is consensus on the talkpage or the NPOV Noticeboard that the issue has been resolved
  2. It is not clear what the neutrality issue is, and no satisfactory explanation has been given
  3. In the absence of any discussion, or if the discussion has become dormant.

Since there's no evidence of ongoing discussion, I'm removing the tag for now. If discussion is continuing and I've failed to see it, however, please feel free to restore the template and continue to address the issues. Thanks to everybody working on this one! -- Khazar2 (talk) 23:30, 14 June 2013 (UTC)

Support section needs a clean-up, and also march attendance numbers need an actual source not a guess worthy of the million mom march.

This paragraph below is not "supportive" it's more like the opening line of the Opposition section;

Some opponents of abortion maintain that personhood begins at fertilization (also referred to as conception), and should therefore be protected by the Constitution;[44] the dissenting justices in Roe instead wrote that decisions about abortion "should be left with the people and to the political processes the people have devised to govern their affairs."[38]

This should be edited properly by a mod,

Also speaking of support, there is no support for the Attendance #s on the March, even the Michigan online article cited here has no reference and no supporting information from the national parks service or anything similar. The numbers are just cited guesstimations with no more support than a POV piece or Op/Ed.

I don't think either have a place in this article (positions for/against) This article should be about the ruling and the law, not the politics thereof, that should be moved to another location so both sides can bicker at each other. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:51, 9 October 2013 (UTC)

I have changed one word

The article originally read (emphasis added) "The district court ruled in McCorvey's favor on the legal merits of her case, and declined to grant an injunction against the enforcement of the laws barring abortion." I have changed one word so this now reads "The district court ruled in McCorvey's favor on the legal merits of her case, but declined to grant an injunction against the enforcement of the laws barring abortion." I believe the way the article was originally written is misleading; if she won on the merits then the court should have declared the law unconstitutional. Since she did win, but the trial court declined to strike down the law (and if it had struck down the law, then Wade would have been the petitioner in the Supreme Court and the case would have been Wade v. Roe) then the article should say it that way. Or, if the trial court did strike down the law but an intermediate appeals court overturned that decision, then where I have placed 'but' this should be changed from 'but' back to 'and' and the word 'declined' should be changed to 'decided' and the reversal should be noted. Paul Robinson (Rfc1394) (talk) 15:27, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

I am Roe the book written by the plaintiff in the case. ...the fact that she is now a pro life advocate. ...both are pertinent facts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:59, 10 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 3 April 2015

Please change the entire textual paragraph under public opinion to:

    Public opinion

See also: Abortion in the United States: Public opinion A Gallup poll conducted in May 2009 indicates that a minority of Americans, 37%, believe that abortion should be legal in any or most circumstances, compared to 41% in May 2008. The move away from pro-choice toward pro-life was confirmed with 51% of survey respondents identifying as pro-life and 42% identifying as pro-choice. This is the fist time since Gallup polling on the issue began, in 1995, that more adults self identified as pro-life then pro-choice. [5][77] Similarly, an April 2009 Pew Research Center poll showed a softening of support for legal abortion compared to the previous years of polling. People who said they support abortion in all or most cases dropped from 54% in 2008 to 46% in 2009.[78] In contrast, an October 2007 Harris poll on Roe v. Wade asked the following question: In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that states laws which made it illegal for a woman to have an abortion up to three months of pregnancy were unconstitutional, and that the decision on whether a woman should have an abortion up to three months of pregnancy should be left to the woman and her doctor to decide. In general, do you favor or oppose this part of the U.S. Supreme Court decision making abortions up to three months of pregnancy legal?[79] In reply, 56 percent of respondents indicated favour while 40 percent indicated opposition. The Harris organization concluded from this poll that "56 percent now favours the U.S. Supreme Court decision." Pro-life activists have disputed whether the Harris poll question is a valid measure of public opinion about Roe's overall decision, because the question focuses only on the first three months of pregnancy.[80][81] The Harris poll has tracked public opinion about Roe since 1973:[79][82]

Regarding the Roe decision as a whole, more Americans support it than support overturning it.[83] When pollsters describe various regulations that Roe prevents legislatures from enacting, support for Roe drops.[83][84] According to a March 21, 2013 Pew Research Center survey 49% of respondents found having an abortion to be morally wrong, 23% found it not to be a moral issue and 15% found abortion to be morally acceptable. [6] Hawljo (talk) 08:39, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Red information icon with gradient background.svg Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. Kharkiv07Talk 22:17, 4 April 2015 (UTC)

Public Opinion

The public opinion section is a bit outdated and could benefit from additional stats. I would like to add Gallup Poll information from May 2015 (most recent poll), and Pew Research Center stats from January 2013 (most recent to the best of my knowledge). I will do so in the next day or two, so please comment if you would like me to keep the old information while adding the new.

Everything will be cited to their sources.

SMaeglinReproRights (talk) 13:37, 6 July 2015 (UTC)

Should the term "pro-life" be used (without quotation marks) in an objective article? Hell NA!

At the end of the third paragraph, I see the following phrase:

“...dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and pro-life camps..."

To be objective and more correct, the two sides should be called “pro-abortion-rights” and “anti-abortion-rights.”

“Pro-life” is a loaded term, is misleading, and appears in various places in the article. If you call them “pro-life,” the implication is that the other side must be anti-life, and many will argue that they are certainly not anti-life. The abortion debate isn’t so much about pro-life or anti-life, but rather at what point in the human reproduction process you have a new human.

While we should use the correctly descriptive terms, “pro-abortion-rights” and “anti-abortion-rights,” we certainly also need to point out that the latter group refers to themselves as “pro-life.” However, just because they use that term, doesn’t mean that Wikipedia needs to use it throughout its supposedly objective article on the topic.

DrMattB (talk) 17:24, 6 August 2015 (UTC)

Sarah Weddington became the youngest person to argue a Supreme Court case.

Under the section "Supreme Court decision", the following sentence should be added to the end of the first paragraph. (Right after: "The Court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the United States Constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.[29]" )

> Sarah Weddington became the youngest person to argue a successful Supreme Court case.

source: McBride, Dorothy E. (2008). Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 159–. ISBN 9781598840988. Retrieved 30 November 2015.

If the terrible joke by opposing counsel Floyd is worthy of being in the wikipedia entry, surely the feat by Weddington deserves to be here, especially in light of the fact that no law firm would hire her out of law school simply because she was a woman. In fact, I think this milestone might even be placed in the opening paragraph as well. (talk) 10:07, 1 December 2015 (UTC)

Possible Missing Citation

Roblomo (talk) 22:46, 7 December 2016 (UTC) In the Supreme Court Decisions section, the last sentence in Right to Privacy states (The majority opinion allowed states to protect "fetal life after viability" even though a fetus is not "a person within the meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.")

I am not sure if this majority opinion is a citation or statement from Row V Wade or from the Planned Parenthood v Casey decision as both are reference before this comment.


Semi-protected edit request on 24 January 2017

"Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-choice and anti-abortion camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides." Describing the two sides of this debate as "pro-choice" and "anti-abortion" is not objective or neutral. Either the sentence in question should use the term most widely-used by those within each movement (i.e. "pro-choice" and "pro-life"), or it should label the two "camps" according to what they advocate for or against: for abortion rights, or "pro-abortion", or against abortion rights, or "anti-abortion". Please change "pro-choice" to "pro-abortion" or change "anti-abortion" to "pro-life". Philipmessing (talk) 12:09, 24 January 2017 (UTC)

Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. EvergreenFir (talk) 15:30, 24 January 2017 (UTC)
Agree with the requested change. This is essentially a revert of which was done without any attempt to consensus, and would restore the previous, NPOV state of the entry. The Crab Who Played With The Sea (talk) 19:25, 24 January 2017 (UTC)


In order to give off a more neutral and balanced article, it would help if the Reception section was more equally formatted. The Opposition section goes more into detail than the Support section does. It makes the Support section come off a bit underrepresented and gives a hint of bias. Kmbatt (talk) 01:25, 29 January 2017 (UTC)

Change Anti-abortion

You keep calling them anti-abortion in the document, but that shows how biased you are, being politically correct towards a left! There should be a prolife v. pro choice if you are going to label them. Otherwise you should call it pro-abortion v. anti-abortion. Perhaps you meant no harm, but as I have learned in my many sociology and Multicultural education classes, this shows you have a hidden bias, and therefore I am in justice and as your fellow human being supposed to call you out on it! Pdblum12330 (talk) 00:57, 25 January 2017 (UTC)

I second this because if you are going to call it pro-choice vs anti-abortion you might as well change it to pro-life vs. pro-killing. if you are going to be just blatantly biased like it is worded and try to hide the fact that Pro-choice = choice to Kill. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:39, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

I second this. I believe the naming used in the article should be changed due to three facts:

  • First, I think we can safely state the fact that each side uses mainly the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life", respectively, to identify itself.
  • Second, we can also accept that "pro-abortion" and "anti-abortion" are terms that, even though correct, neither side uses as often as the terms in the previous point to identify itself, but are more frequently used by one side to refer to the other.
  • Third, throughout the main body of the article (not counting the references) there are 3 instances of "pro-choice", 2 instances of "pro-life", no instance of "pro-abortion", and 4 instances of "anti-abortion". These slightly unbalanced numbers can be considered to some extent ,as biasing. Personally, this is the view I hold.

Therefore, I suggest using the self-accepted terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" every time when referring to the positions in the debate. This shouldn't apply to the times when the terms "pro-abortion" and "anti-abortion" themselves are being explained, or situations where the terms "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are not used due to aesthetic reasons, like avoiding repetitions. Fleon11 (talk) 20:31, 1 March 2017 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 21 April 2017

Please change Roe v. Wade reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-abortion and anti-abortion camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides to "Roe v. Wade" reshaped national politics, dividing much of the United States into pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights camps, while activating grassroots movements on both sides.

As "The Associated Press and Reuters encourage journalists to use the terms "abortion rights" and "anti-abortion", which they see as neutral."[7] Natashark304 (talk) 23:08, 21 April 2017 (UTC)

Not done: please establish a consensus for this alteration before using the {{edit semi-protected}} template. EvergreenFir

(talk) 06:37, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

And how, pray tell, does one request a consensus discussion? The Crab Who Played With The Sea (talk) 16:12, 22 April 2017 (UTC)

I concur with the suggestion to add the word rights at the end of the two abortion opinion descriptors. DaveSays1 (talk) 23:49, 24 April 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Here, the Court adds:
    See Carter v. Jury Comm'n, 396 U.S. 320 (1970); Florida Lime Growers v. Jacobsen, 362 U.S. 73, 80-81 (1960). It would be destructive of time and energy for all concerned were we to rule otherwise. Cf. Doe v. Bolton, post, p. 179.
  2. ^ Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973). Retrieved 2007-01-26
  3. ^ William Mears and Bob Franken, “30 years after ruling, ambiguity, anxiety surround abortion debate”, CNN (2003-01-22): “In all, the Roe and Doe rulings impacted laws in 46 states.”
  4. ^ Doe v. Bolton, 410 U.S. 179 (1973). Retrieved 2007-01-26.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Goldstein, Norm, ed. The Associated Press Stylebook. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2007.

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