The Furor Over Roe v. Wade and What Do Millennials Know?

Millenials and knowlege about Roe V. Wade

For the last few weeks the media is abuzz with talk about the Roe v. Wade abortion decision and the upcoming vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court. Some are shouting disaster for the 1973 decision, which legalized abortion in the U.S. with the change of this one Supreme Court Justice. Polls are being conducted and debates are taking place. But what do people really know about a court decision that happened 45 years ago when the majority of the population had not even been born? The answer is: apparently not much!

2018 Polling on Millennials and Roe v. Wade

Roe V. Wade Polls

On July 6, 2018, Democratic pollster and President of Lake Research, Celinda Lake, dropped a bombshell when she spoke on What America is Thinking, a show on Hill.TV about polls and public opinion.

According to her research, Millennials think the Roe v. Wade decision happened right after the Revolutionary War, some 200 year ago. Also, according to Lake they have no idea there was ever a time when abortion was illegal.

2013 Polling on Millennials and Roe v. Wade

Prior to this in 2013, 40 years after Roe v. Wade, Pew Research Center did polling on what the public knew about Roe v. Wade. At that time they discovered that only 44% of Millennials knew that Roe v. Wade was about abortion. Others said the decision dealt with school desegregation, the death penalty, or environmental protection. This left 56% who were completely incorrect about the Supreme Court decision.

The State of the Uninformed Public on Roe v. Wade and Abortion

With the majority of the voting age population representing approximately 80 million Millennials, a number of questions arise.

How can polls on the support of Roe v. Wade be accurate?

How can there be an honest discussion about Roe v. Wade with so much misinformation?

How can two opposing sides deal with the real facts when they have no real knowledge of them?

Supreme court decision on Roe V. Wade

What is the History of Roe v. Wade?

The Roe v. Wade decision came about in 1973 as a result of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. These decisions nullified all state laws on abortion, which had been in effect up until that time.

Nearly 150 years prior to that the American Medical Association urged all state legislatures to pass laws protecting unborn children and prohibiting abortion because of their scientific discovery of conception and their conclusion that life begins at conception. All 50 states passed laws giving protection to unborn children over the next several decades.

These remained in effect until 1960 when some states began allowing abortion in limited circumstances; i.e., to save the life of the mother. Then on January 22, 1973, when the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases reached the Supreme Court, they struck down all state laws because they determined that legal personhood does not exist prenatally.

The Roe v. Wade decision broke pregnancy down into three-month periods; i.e., the three trimesters. In the first six months the states could not regulate abortion, but in the final three months the states could regulate or prohibit abortion, except when necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

The Doe v. Bolton decision was necessary to define the term health as it was used in Roe v. Wade. The Doe case determined the term health to include the complete emotional and social well being of the mother.

How many people actually know this? Especially Millennials.

Who Was Roe and What Was Her Claim?

Norma McCorvey was Roe

Jane Roe was actually Norma McCorvey, and she became the plaintiff in the case, assuming the pseudonym of Jane Roe to protect her anonymity. According to the case put together by her attorneys, Norma claimed she was pregnant as a result of gang rape and needed an abortion, which she was unable to get in the state of Texas. However, she simply signed the papers set before her, never went to court, and never testified. For several years she remained anonymous, and then in 1980 she started making public appearances in support of abortion.

Several years later, however, she began to regret her involvement in the infamous abortion decision. She went on to say her attorney told her the pregnancy was just a piece of tissue and that they duped her. She never actually had the abortion but gave her baby up for adoption. She also admitted to never having been gang raped, but the attorneys felt that would present a more sympathetic picture.

By the mid 1990s she completely reversed her position on abortion and began to speak out against it. She even started her own organization, Roe No More. In 2003 she went to court to try to overturn Roe v. Wade because it was based on lies, but the case was dismissed. She also testified before Congress about the underlying deceit of the Roe v. Wade decision. Norma McCorvey died in 2017 at the age of 69.

Is there a single Millennial that knows the Norma McCorvey story?

Even Fewer Know of Doe v. Bolton

Sandra Bolton

The Mary Doe in Doe v. Bolton was Sandra Cano. At 22 she was the mother of three who had been taken away from her and placed in foster care, and she was pregnant with her fourth. There are conflicting statements in the Doe affidavit that claimed she applied for an abortion and was denied in Georgia.

However, Cano has since testified in court and before Congress that she never wanted an abortion and sought legal help to divorce her husband and get her children back. She has stated that either her signature was forged by her attorney or the Doe papers were slipped in with others for her to sign. She claims she was naïve and stupid and easily manipulated by her attorney. She fled to Oklahoma to avoid the abortion.

Cano has since testified before Congress that Doe was built on a lie and deceit and needs to be overturned. In 2003 she even went to court herself in an attempt to reverse Doe, arguing that new scientific evidence supports reversal; but the court denied her case. Sandra Cano died in 2014 at the age of 66.

How many adults of any age know the story of Doe v. Bolton?

Where do we go from here?

Will all the polls and media furor continue without looking at the facts? Does anyone care, or will we continue to scream at each other over perceptions and misconceptions? Sadly, the answer is probably Yes.