McCorvey never had an abortion, delivering a girl that she gave up for adoption. But the landmark decision she championed proved a critical - but far from final - chapter in the great abortion debate.
On January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional, by a 7-2 vote, a Texas law prohibiting abortion except for the purpose of saving a woman's life.
What the Supreme Court said, in simple terms, is that women have a constitutional right to privacy to make decisions about whether to have an abortion. Because this decision involves moral as well as medical considerations, the Court ruled, a woman has the right to consider her personal circumstances and the dictates of her conscience.
"Abortion raises moral and spiritual questions over which honorable persons can disagree sincerely and profoundly. But those disagreements did not then and do not now relieve us of our duty to apply the Constitution faithfully," said Associate Justice Harry Blackmun in the majority opinion.
Honorable persons - as well as nefarious scoundrels dressed in religious garb - have, in fact, disagreed both "sincerely and profoundly".
"Family values" they call it - a term they like to pull out and apply 'liberally' (/sarcasm) in opposition to everything from Reproductive Rights to Marriage Equality.
Can you say, "hypocrite"?
More than 1,000 bills were introduced in state legislatures, including the Ohio “heartbeat” bill banning abortion after the 6th or 7th week of gestation, and numerous bills requiring pregnant women to have ultrasounds.
In 2011, ninety-two (92!!!!) anti-abortion provisions were enacted – the most in any year since Roe v. Wade was decided!
In the U.S. House of Representatives, radical and repressive legislation was introduced, including the “Protect Life Act” which would allow hospitals to let a pregnant woman die rather than provide her services (see also 'hypocrite' above)It is not a coincidence that these efforts come at a time when there is a Black man in the White House, and an 'uppity' former First Lady as Secretary of State.
Lawmakers also launched a full-scale effort to defund clinics that provide reproductive health services, including Planned Parenthood clinics, where thousands of low-income women and children benefit from health programs on contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and more.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius overruled a scientific panel and rejected broader accessibility of emergency contraception on store shelves.
But there were victories last year, too.
Voters in Mississippi defeated by 55% to 45% a personhood amendment that would have conferred legal rights at the moment of fertilization.
The governor of Kentucky refused to permit the merger of a publicly-funded institution with a Catholic health group that would have restricted abortion (even to save a woman’s life), sterilization, contraception and emergency contraception.
Just two days ago, HHS Secretary Sebelius eased our worst fears by reaffirming contraceptive services without co-pays or deductibles in new healthcare legislation, and permitting only a narrow exemption for religious employers.
People have often used scripture as the rationale for their prejudice, bigotry and oppression.
Proponents of "natural law" point to The Bible as the reason that "the way we were" is good enough for "the way it ought to be".
Read: 'Man on top' as the metaphor for the structure of society wherein everyone who isn't White, male, heterosexual and well-monied is in control of everything.
It boggles my mind that there are women - many, many women around the country - who support this position. My only response is to say that either these women don't understand their own potential or, if they do, they have consigned themselves to be underachievers.
Which is their right and their choice. I would never deny them that.
I would only ask for the same right and the same choices for myself and my sisters and our daughters and granddaughters who think differently.
Actually, I'm not asking. I'm insisting on a right that is mine - and, all women - and guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States.
In the 39 years since Roe v. Wade, many things have changed. Many more options are opened to women than have ever been previously available.
Many on 'The Right" are crying, "I want my country back."
Well, as Bill Mahr says, I want my country forward.
Let's try to reduce the number of abortions by reducing the factors that contribute to the reasons women choose abortion, which include but are not limited to poverty, poor education, and inaccessibility to affordable health care.
And, yes, let's keep abortion safe, legal and free from moral scrutiny and religious judgment and government interference.
It's been 39 years since Roe v. Wade. It's time to move the political, religious and cultural battleground somewhere other than a woman's body.
Like, let's say, Congress. Or, the Vatican.
Neither of which I trust with either a choice or a child.