What will it take to overturn Roe v. Wade?

On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic judgment that personal privacy includes a woman’s right to abortion. Eleven years and some 15 million abortions later, six of the seven justices who agreed with the Roe v. Wade decision still serve on the High Court. But five of those six are at least 75 years old, including Harry A. Blackmun, who wrote the majority opinion.

Blackmun has said one of the prizes to be claimed by the winner of this fall’s presidential election is “the opportunity to fill [Supreme Court] vacancies.” He predicted there will be as many as four vacancies to fill in the next four years.

Many prolife leaders regard a sympathetic Supreme Court as an important, though not indispensable, pillar in the plan for overturning Roe v. Wade. Believing the time may soon be right, some of the nation’s most articulate legal spokesmen came to Chicago in March to discuss strategies. Speakers included constitutional lawyer William Bentley Ball and Northwestern University law professor Victor Rosenblum. Americans United for Life (AUL), the legal arm of the prolife movement, sponsored the meeting.

“When two of the six-member pro-Roe majority are replaced with justices who oppose or can be persuaded to oppose the Roe doctrine, the reversal process may begin,” Rosenblum said in a paper prepared for the conference. Prolife leaders want to make sure that if and when that ground is prepared, the legal seeds for reversal are planted with prudence.

AUL spokesman Steven Baer said the conference was “designed to begin discussion on the very best kind of case to push up to the Supreme Court.” In his address, attorney Ball raised questions he said should be asked to make that ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.