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McCorvey’s obituary in NY Times distorts and minimizes impact of Roe and Doe decisions

by | Feb 21, 2017

By Dave Andrusko

Norma McCorvey

Norma McCorvey

A brief but sincere thank you to all those who responded to our extensive coverage Monday of the death of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade. Much more could have been said and will be in the days and weeks to come about the soft-spoken woman who unwittingly and unwillingly became synonymous with the deadly 1973 decision that unleashed the Abortion Industry in all 50 states.

Today, I’d just to address the New York Times’s coverage which appeared over the weekend. (Norma died on Saturday.) I mention Robert D. McFadden’s story not because it was original or interesting but because the leading megaphone for the Planned Parenthoods and NARALs was so sloppy. That tells you something about the need—or the absence of any need—to be accurate.

For example, McFadden writes, “Since the ruling, perhaps 50 million legal abortions have been performed in the United States…” That is preposterously low. The number is somewhere between 58 and 60 million, as he would have gleaned from even a cursory reading of the Times’s chief source of statistics for all things abortion, the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute.

For another, McFadden offers a turgid and unnecessarily complicated explanation of Roe, initially leaving the impression (as the Times has done repeatedly since 1973) that Roe legalized abortion only in the first trimester. He later writes that Roe’s unidentified “companion ruling” [Doe v. Bolton] “effectively legalized the procedure across the United States.”

Comparatively speaking these are “minor” errors and confusions. Far more significant was what appeared in the original version of McFadden’s story. He mysteriously attributed to Justice Harry Blackmun, the author of Roe and Doe, statements made by one of the two dissenters, Justice Byron White, in the Doe case.

Justice Blackmun did not write, “At the heart of the controversy in these cases are those recurring pregnancies that pose no danger whatsoever to the life or health of the mother but are nevertheless unwanted for any one or more of a variety of reasons — convenience, family planning, economics, dislike of children, the embarrassment of illegitimacy, etc. The common claim before us is that for any one of such reasons, or for no reason at all, and without asserting or claiming any threat to life or health, any woman is entitled to an abortion at her request if she is able to find a medical adviser willing to undertake the procedure. The Court for the most part sustains this position: during the period prior to the time the fetus becomes viable, the Constitution of the United States values the convenience, whim or caprice of the putative mother more than life or potential life of the fetus.” Justice White did.

Think about what was said. Does it make sense that the author of these rulings which (as the Times’ correction accurately points out) “effectively legalized abortion [not the “procedure”] across the United States,” would highlight the unlimited reach of Roe as explained by Doe? That all a woman needed to do was “find a medical adviser willing to undertake the procedure”?

Remember, before a series of subsequent decisions, the company line from the High Court was encapsulated in the very brief concurring opinion written by Chief Justice Warren Burger in Doe: “Plainly, the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortions on demand.”

Plainly, it did!

Categories: Roe v. Wade