Monday, 21 March 2016

Anna Dickinson and Roe v. Wade

Anna Dickinson 1842-1932: Anna Dickinson

Anna was born into a Quaker family and her father was an active abolitionist and in fact died after giving a passionate speech against slavery when Anna was only two years old. She helped support her family from the age of 15 and in 1861, became one of the federal government's first female employees when she got a job at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. She became an activist at a very young age and was friendly with influential feminist thinkers, such as Lucretia Mott and Susan B. Anthony. Under Mott's leadership, Dickinson gave her first major speech in 1861, "The Rights and Wrongs of Women". Over eight hundred tickets were sold thus begun Dickinson's career and fame.

Dickinson lost her job at the Mint when she publicly criticised Union strategy, and then Mott arranged a lecture tour for Dickinson, who was 19 at the time, that was sponsored by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Her reputation grew so quickly that more than 5,000 people crowded New York’s Cooper Institute for her first appearance in that city. As the Civil War worsened, the new Republican Party hired her to deliver the pro-Union message to audiences that were not especially supportive of the war.  Some Pennsylvania coal miners who objected to the draft literally took shots at Dickinson, but she converted many to the abolitionist cause. Averaging a speech every other day, she earned as much as twenty thousand dollars annually – an amazing amount for that era.

She reached the high point of her career in 1864, when Republican leaders in Congress invited her to speak.  She was the first woman thus honored, and in addition to the president, other military and civilian leaders packed the House floor and its gallery.  At a time when many people still considered it taboo for a woman to speak in public, this was an amazing achievement.  It was particularly remarkable for such a young woman to capture the attention of well-informed and busy congressmen.

Unfortunately, Anna's fame and influence died down after this period. She showed such signs of paranoia that she was involuntarily committed to a Pennsylvania hospital for the insane.  She filed lawsuits upon her release, was adjudicated sane, and recovered damages from newspapers – but the experience shook her self-confidence and ended her career. I believe she is an extremely influential figure to the improvement of American women's status' and has showed that women can accomplish amazing things during oppressive and troubles times.

Roe v. Wade- January 22nd 1973: Roe v. WadeThe Roe v. Wade case saw the Supreme Court decision that overturned a Texas interpretation of the abortion law and making abortion legal in the United States. This decision enabled women to have full control over her body when making decisions about her body and gave her privacy with her doctor to discuss these matters.

According to Roe V. Wade, different rules at different stages of pregnancy were considered appropriate. In the first trimester, the state (any government) could treat abortion only as a medical decision, leaving medical judgment to the woman's physician. In the second trimester (before viability), the state's interest was seen as legitimate when it was protecting the health of the mother. After viability of the fetus (likely ability of the fetus able to survive outside and separated from the uterus), the potential of human life could be considered legitimate state interest, and the state could choose to "regulate, or even proscribe abortion" as long as the life and health of the mother was protected".

The name "Jane Roe" was used for Norma McCorvey, on whose behalf the suit was originally filed, alleging that the abortion law in Texas violated her constitutional rights and the rights of other women. The defendant was the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, Henry B. Wade.The Supreme Court chose to base its decision on the Fourteenth Amendment, which granted citizenship to "all persons born or naturalised in the United States". This included recently freed slaves at the time when the amendment was ratified in 1868. 
Roe v. Wade was decided primarily on the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Due Process clause acts as a safeguard from arbitrary denial of life, liberty, or property by the Government outside the sanction of law.  A criminal statute that did not take into account the stage of pregnancy or other interests than the life of the mother was deemed a violation of Due Process.

This decision was a huge milestone on improving the status of women in America as it allowed all women to have control over their bodies and enabled them to make decisions on abortions that were safe. They were also not judged by their doctors and were given absolute privacy when discussing these matters with their doctors. The practice of illegal and unsafe abortions decreased resulting in less infections and deaths of women that were completely unnecessary.

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