Roe v Wade: Breaking the Two Tier System
Norma Leah McCorvey (who also went by Helen Thorpe or Jane Roe) was an activist
living in Houston. At the mere age of 16 she was married, and shortly after in 1963 she had her
first child. As time went on she developed a drug problem and, at the age of 19, she was pregnant
again. She was 21 when she became pregnant for the third time through an affair. Her family, 1 2
disgusted, left her alone, broken and traumatized. She talked to a secretary at work who, after
hearing her story, recommended an free illegal abortion clinic in Oak Cliff Texas. To her horror,
she found the clinic raided by the police, deserted, and blood stains on the walls. This was not
abnormal for abortions in the early to mid-1900s. Clinic like this were average for underground
abortions. Luckily Norma McCorvey was found by Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee who
would represent McCorvey, or Jane Roe as most Americans know her by, in front of the
Supreme Court in 1973 with the landmark case, Roe v. Wade. They hoped that McCorvey, and
every other woman in America, would have access to legal, and most importantly, safe abortions,
like Americans have today. Before this groundbreaking case, illegal abortions were like a 34
two-tier system. People with money could afford safe abortions, while the less fortunate were
forced into back-alley clinics, much like the one McCorvey stumbled upon. If Roe v. Wade 5
were never to happen, then America would still be stuck in that two-tier system, where safe
abortions would be available to some, but out of reach for many women.
1 Thorpe, Helen."Roe v. world" ." Texas Monthly , July 1995, (pg 33 -35)
3 "Roe v. Wade Fast Facts." CNN. April 23, 2017. Accessed January 22, 2018.
4 Sarah Weddington: Roe v Wade. KPBS News. March 7, 2012.
5 "A Question of Health and Women's Equality ; Ellen Goodman." The Boston Globe (Boston,
MA), October 2, 2009. Accessed February 1, 2018.
For as long as history has been recorded, so have abortions; the first accounts stemming
from Egypt in 1550 B.C. Abortions were legal and in early America, but became common after 6
the constitution was written. Just under a century later, states began passing laws that made
abortion illegal. Their main concern is that the “population would be dominated by the children 7
of newly arriving immigrants, whose birth rates were higher than those of “native” Anglo-Saxon
Another driving force behind making abortion illegal in America were professional
doctors themselves. They went off of the peoples’ concern of ‘immigrant amalgamation’,
claiming that “they wanted to prevent “untrained” practitioners, including midwives,
apothecaries, and homeopaths,” from performing abortions, but not solely for the safety of their 9
patients. Their motives were more avaricious than that. These ‘untrained practitioners were
competition for professional doctors. Doctors wanted to give themselves the sole abil...