The case came about because of a Texas law
that prohibited most abortions. Norma McCorvey, known as Jane Roe in court documents, filed against the Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade. McCorvey had wanted to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, but because of the time the legal process took, she had the baby
and the child was placed for adoption.
A Texas federal court
had ruled that the Texas law was unconstitutional, but Wade appealed to the Supreme Court,
which decided the case in 1973. The case posed the constitutional question of whether a woman had the right to an abortion.
In a 7-2 decision
, the Supreme Court affirmed the legality of a woman's right to have an abortion, holding that it fell within a woman's right to privacy protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision also defined the state's level of interest during later trimesters.
McCorvey had a change of heart in the years following the court case and started an anti-abortion organization in 1997. In 2003, she filed a motion in Dallas to have the case overturned. It was not.
She died in February.