Norma McCorvey, Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, dies at 69
Norma McCorvey, who was 22, unwed, mired in addiction and poverty, and desperate for a way out of an unwanted pregnancy when she became Jane Roe, the pseudonymous plaintiff of the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to an abortion, died Feb. 18 at an assisted-living facility in Katy, Tex. She was 69.
On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court handed down its historic 7-to-2 ruling, written by Justice Harry A. Blackmun, articulating a constitutional right to privacy that included the choice to terminate a pregnancy.
The ruling established the trimester framework, designed to balance a woman’s right to control her body and a state’s compelling interest in protecting unborn life. Although later modified, it was a landmark of American jurisprudence and made Jane Roe a figurehead — championed or reviled — in the battle over reproductive rights that continued into the 21st century.
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