WASHINGTON (BP)—-Recently released papers of the late Harry Blackmun provide new details on how the U.S. Supreme Court nearly acted in 1992 to overturn, in effect, the Roe v. Wade decision, according to recent reports.
However, it was not the first time the justices came close to such an action before retreating. The papers of the late Thurgood Marshall demonstrated the court almost undermined Roe in a 1989 case as well.
Blackmun served as an associate justice for 24 years and was best known for writing the 1973 Roe opinion, which struck down all state laws against abortion. His papers were made public in early March, five years after his death.
In those papers were further details of how Roe survived when Blackmun’s fellow justice, Anthony Kennedy, switched his vote, depriving Chief Justice William Rehnquist of the majority he expected in a 1992 abortion case. Rehnquist, Kennedy and three other justices had voted to uphold abortion restrictions in a Pennsylvania law, and the chief justice had circulated a proposed majority decision attacking Roe, when Kennedy changed his mind, according to The New York Times.
The Times reported Kennedy sent Blackmun a letter, saying, “I need to see you as soon as you have a few free moments. I want to tell you about some developments in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and at least part of what I say should come as welcome news.”
The next day, Kennedy informed Blackmun that two of their associates -– Sandra Day O’Connor and David Souter -– and he had covertly become a team to uphold Roe. While most of the state restrictions still were maintained, the Kennedy-O’Connor-Souter opinion reaffirmed a right to abortion in a 5-4 ruling.
Something similar had occurred in 1989 in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, according to documents in Marshall’s papers, The Washington Post reported in 1993.
Rehnquist circulated four draft majority opinions that supported abortion limitations in a Missouri law and brought Roe under attack, according to The Post. Blackmun wrote a dissent in which he said, “Roe no longer survives,” The Post reported.
This time, O’Connor changed her mind before the decision was announced. While agreeing to support restrictions in the law as part of a 5-4 ruling, she refused to endorse the attack on Roe.
In other abortion-related news:
MORE RU 486 DEATHS? -– A Swedish teenager has died as a result of the abortion drug RU 486, and it is possible the recent death of a 15-year-old Detroit girl can be blamed on the chemical abortifacient as well.
The death of Rebecca Tell Berg, 16, of Uddevalla, Sweden, on June 3 from the use of RU 486 was only recently revealed. A division of the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare reported “a young woman bled to death as a direct consequence of the [RU 486] treatment,” LifeSite.net reported March 16.
Tamia Russell of Detroit died Jan. 8 as a result of an abortion, according to LifeNews.com. The cause of death, an official of the Wayne County medical examiner’s office said, was listed as “uterine infarction with sepsis, due to status post second trimester abortion,” LifeNews reported.
The cause of death, plus a report from family members that she was partly through the abortion, caused Katharine Lorenz of Michigan Right to Life to believe the abortion was chemically induced, according to LifeNews. Russell was six months pregnant, LifeNews reported.
Holly Patterson, 18, of the San Francisco area, died in September from complications caused by use of RU 486. She received the drug from a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Hayward, Calif. After her death, the Food and Drug Administration announced it was conducting an intense inquiry.
When the FDA approved RU 486 in 2000, it did so through the seventh week of pregnancy.
RU 486, also known as mifepristone but which uses the trade name Mifeprex in this country, causes the lining of the uterus to release the tiny baby. A second drug, a prostaglandin, is taken two days after mifepristone and causes the uterus to contract, expelling the embryo. When the FDA approved Mifeprex, it required the anti-ulcer drug misoprostol to be used to eject the preborn baby. Cytotec is the trademark name for the drug mandated for expelling the baby in the RU 486 process.
According to LifeSite, 44 percent of the 31,000 abortions performed each year in Sweden are chemically induced.
NAACP NOW PRO-CHOICE — The board of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People has placed the 95-year-old organization on record in support of abortion rights for the first time. “This is an issue of equal rights, and we are pleased to join those insisting on a woman’s right to control her own body,” board chairman Julian Bond said in a Feb. 24 news release.
The resolution, which was approved unanimously, also urged attendance at the pro-choice “March for Women’s Rights” rally April 25 in Washington.
Black Americans for Life criticized the resolution, calling it “incomprehensible.”
“Sadly, many African-American women have believed the lies of pro-abortion groups and have aborted their children,” BAL Director Day Gardner said. “We have the highest abortion rate in the country. Black women should not be silent when it comes to this abomination.”
Black women make up 13.7 percent of American women of child-bearing age, but the abortion rate among African American women is three times greater than that of white women, according to the National Right to Life Committee. The NRLC also reported about one-third of the more than 44 million babies aborted since 1973 have been black.
ROE REDUX — Norma McCorvey, “Jane Roe” in the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, awaits a decision from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in her effort to reopen the controversial and far-reaching case.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit is considering McCorvey’s appeal of a Texas federal judge’s ruling that her petition did not occur within a “reasonable time.” The appeals court agreed to review the judge’s ruling. The panel initially scheduled oral arguments for March 2. It later canceled the arguments and said it would deliver a decision based on the written briefs.
McCorvey, who became a Christian and a pro-life advocate about two decades after the Roe v. Wade ruling, presented more than 5,400 pages of evidence in her petition last year seeking to demonstrate abortion harms women and destroys the life of a human being.
McCorvey never had an abortion, but it was her case from Texas in which the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to overturn state laws prohibiting abortion. In combination with the Doe v. Bolton opinion released at the same time, the justices’ action had the effect of permitting abortion for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy.
The new case is McCorvey v. Hill.
WIN FOR CHINESE –- The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals delivered another victory to Chinese who flee their country because of its coercive abortion and sterilization program. A three-judge panel ruled a husband whose wife underwent a forced abortion should have received asylum in the United States, LifeNews.com reported.
The decision followed a February ruling by the appeals court that couples who have been threatened with coercive abortion or sterilization would qualify for asylum, according to LifeNews.
After her abortion in 1999, Lei Chiu Ma urged her husband, Kui Rong Ma, to flee to the United States and send for her, according to the report. Immigration officials detained him for years after he arrived in Guam. Although a judge originally granted him asylum, the Immigration and Naturalization Service won an appeal on the basis that the marriage was not officially recognized by the Chinese government, LifeNews reported.
A federal law permits as many as 1,000 women and men a year to receive asylum in this country as a result of China’s population control policies, according to LifeNews.