Norma McCorvey--better known as Jane Roe in the pivotal 1973 Supreme Court case 'Roe v. Wade' that established the constitutional right to abortion--died Saturday at the age of 69 at an assisted-living facility in Texas. Joshua Prager, a journalist who is currently writing a book about the landmark court case, confirmed that her death was the result of a heart ailment.
After becoming desperate for a way out of her unwanted pregnancy, McCorvey, then in her early twenties, filed a lawsuit in 1970 in a district court in her home state of Texas against Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade. The case subsequently made its way through the chambers of the judicial system to the Supreme Court on appeal. By the time the Court ruled 7 to 2 in McCorvey's favor in January 1973, her child, whom she gave up for adoption, was more than two years old.
In the court opinion, Justice Harry A. Blackmum argued that there is constitutional right to privacy, which included the choice to abort a pregnancy.
“It seems that the decision whether a human being should live or die is so inherently subjective, rife with all of life's understandings, experiences, prejudices and passions, that it inevitably defies the rationality and consistency required by the Constitution," he wrote.
McCorvey's death comes in the midst of political upheaval. President Trump and his administration have vocalized their opposition to abortion and women's health issues in the beginning days of taking office. The day after the 44th anniversary of the "Roe v. Wade" decision, Trump signed an executive order that terminates funding for any United Nations agency or other international body that uses the money to perform abortions, for example. The move drew immediate condemnation from family-planning groups and Democratic allies.
And, at his last presidential debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump said he would appoint a Supreme Court justice that would overturn "Roe v. Wade." He said the reversal of the decision "[would] happen, automatically."
Trump's call to dismantle Obamacare, which made birth control more accessible and affordable, could have ramifications on women's health. Dania Palanker, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University, said millions of women now have access to birth control because of the law.
"This includes women covered by employer based health insurance, coverage through the insurance marketplaces and those covered through the ACA's Medicaid expansion," Palanker explained. "Prior to the ACA, women generally had to pay cost sharing for birth control methods covered by their plan."