which protected the constitutional right of a woman to have an abortion without excessive interference by government in the United States. The decision did not give an absolute right to abortion but it was enough to allow some women the right to choose to end a pregnancy within the first trimester or in some circumstances after that.
The decision was considered to be a turning point in constitutional law in the United States and it has influenced the way in which abortions have been conducted in other countries as well. It is a decision which we were taught about in law school here. It has influenced abortion law making here and in many other places.
If the news this morning is correct there is going to be a seismic shift in the law in the United States with the now very conservative Supreme Court getting ready to overturn the decision. In turn that is likely to influence the decision making with respect to abortion in many other places.
I have no children of my own. I have never been pregnant. I won't pretend to understand what some women must go through. All that to me is beside the point anyway. What I have seen is enough to suggest to me that there are times when abortion must be allowed.
Middle Cat went through pregnancy twice. On each occasion she was not merely uncomfortable but physically sick every day. When her father-in-law suggested they try for more children Middle Cat, backed by her husband, told him, "You have them." Despite the odds they had two healthy children and they were not going to risk Middle Cat's life by having another child. Would they have considered an abortion in that first trimester? I don't know. What I do know is that it may have become necessary later - if the other two children were to have a mother.
I know a man in this district who believed that his mother was "rather old" when she gave birth. It was only when the woman he believed was his mother died that he discovered his "sister" was actually his mother. She has made no secret of the fact that, given the opportunity, she would have had an abortion. When he discovered the situation his "sister" told him this and that she wanted nothing more to do with him. The consequences of all this for him have been so severe that he has told me more than once, "I wish she'd had the b.... abortion and then I would not be going through this."
There is another woman I know who was raped by a stranger on her way home from work. It was a particularly vicious rape that left her lying there injured for some time. The act caused the break up of her marriage and the end of her career as a teacher. She was forced to go through with the pregnancy and "encouraged" to keep the baby. The result has been catastrophic for both of them. Would she have had an abortion had it been available? "In a heart beat," she once told me.
It is not for me to say whether abortion is "right" or "wrong" or whether it is right under some circumstances and not under others. What I do believe though is that there is no easy answer. "Right to life" advocates may hold all life sacred but do we also need to look at the quality of life for those involved? If we insist on the mother going through with the pregnancy do we also have the right to insist on her caring for the child or do we allow adoption?
Are we also going to put the lives of some women at risk by encouraging "back street" abortions? Do we ban those professionals who help from practice?
Overturning Roe v Wade is not going to solve problems. It is going to create even more problems - in many places.