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March 26

Compiled and Written by Irene Stuber
who is solely responsible for its content.
This document has been taken from emailed versions
of Women of Achievement. The complete episode
will be published here in the future.

The U.S. Supreme Court Reaffirming Roe v. Wade


QUOTE by Molly Ivins.

It is a promise of the Constitution...

      Here are excerpts from the Supreme Court's abortion decision of 1992 which upheld Roe v Wade. The following is from the main opinion, written by justices Sandra Day O'Connor, Anthony M Kennedy and David H. Souter:
      "...We are led to conclude this: the essential holding of Roe v Wade should be retained and once again reaffirmed. ...It must be stated at the outset and with clarity that Roe's essential holding, the holding we reaffirm, has 3 parts:
      "First is a recognition of the right of the woman to choose to have an abortion before viability and to obtain it without undue interference from the state...
      "Second is a confirmation of the state's power to restrict abortions after fetal viability, if the law contains exceptions for pregnancies which endanger a woman's life or health.
      "And third is the principle that the state has legitimate interests from the outset of the pregnancy in protecting the health of the woman and the life of the fetus that MAY BECOME a child.
[emphasis WiiN]
      "It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter. We have indicated this principle before.
      "It is settled now, as it was when the court heard arguments in Roe v Wade, that the Constitution places limits on a state's right to interfere with a person's most basic decisions about family and parenthood...
      "Men and women of good conscience can disagree, and we suppose some always shall disagree, about the profound moral and spiritual implications of terminating a pregnancy, even in its earliest stage. Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code..."

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B. 03-26-1819, Louise Otto, author and founder of the German feminist movement.

B. 03-26-1930, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to be appointed an associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court was an Arizona lawyer and judge. She served in the state Senate from 1969 until 1974, becoming majority leader - the first woman to hold such a position.
      She was elected an Arizona Superior Court judge 1974, and appointed to the Arizona Court of Appeals 1979.
      President Ronald Reagan, under great pressure from women's groups as well as his own party, appointed O'Connor and she was sworn in 09-25-81. Expected to be a strict Republican right-winger and seen as the deciding anti-choice vote, she amazed everyone by being the deciding vote to uphold a woman's right to choose and confirm that an embryo or fetus is not a child.

Event: 03-26-1943, Second Lieutenant Elsie Ott of the Army Nurse Corps receives the first air medal for meritorious achievement ever given to a woman.

B. 03-26-1944, Diana Ross, vocalist, actor, lead singer with the group The Supremes during the 1960's, did solo work, and won an Academy Award nomination for her work in The Lady Sings the Blues.

Event: 03-26-1985, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds a lower court decision that an Oklahoma law allowing a teacher's firing for speaking on gay rights is unconstitutional.

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      "I don't claim that women are wiser or better than men, but I can tell you that having women in positions of power does make a difference in what gets tended to and what doesn't.
      "If you ever read Supreme Court arguments, you will occasionally notice that Sandra Day O'Connor, no one's idea of a bomb-throwing feminist, asks questions different from those of her male colleagues. Just because she has a different perspective."
      -- Molly Ivins in her syndicated column 02-13-1993.

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