Welcome to Episode 1 of I am Roe, Hear Me Roar. This introductory episode is a table of contents of sorts for the podcast so you know what to expect.
Here’s the scoop.
What is the show about?
Specifically, I am Roe, Hear Me Roar is a legal podcast. It will paint a clear picture of the legal landscape surrounding abortion in the United States. It is neither a political nor advocacy show arguing for or against a particular position on abortion. Instead, it’s a revelatory show – safe for everyone, irrespective of your personal opinions or political position regarding abortion.
What is the purpose of the show?
This podcast exists is equip non-legal experts with the knowledge and information needed to have a better understanding of the legal and social tension surrounding abortion and why it’s seemingly impossible to find a middle ground.
What will the show cover?
The podcast begins with an examination of the law as it stands now. Next, we’ll crack open the history books to see how and why we’re experiencing this highly contentious public debate. And, last, but not least, we’ll peel back the onion a bit and identify practical and useful next steps, depending on the outcome of the case currently pending before the court, Dobbs v. Jackson.
Thank you for joining me on this fascinating exploration of the legal history of abortion in America.
Roe v. Wade: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1971/70-18
Planned Parenthood v. Casey: https://www.oyez.org/cases/1991/91-744
EP 1: AN INTRODUCTION TO I AM ROE, HEAR ME ROAR
This is episode one of I am Roe, hear me roar.
I’m your host, attorney Kelley Keller, and I take the awe out of the law. I’m passionate about teaching regular everyday people how to understand and access the law, know the rights it protects, and learn to advocate effectively, for things that matter.
Thank you for hanging out with me on this inaugural episode of my brand new podcast, I really appreciate the gift of your time. And I’ll work hard to ensure you take something important and enriching from each and every minute you spend with me.
So once again, thank you.
OK – Let’s get down to business.
Here’s what you can expect from this show:
First, I am Roe, Hear me Roar is a legal podcast.
It will paint a clear picture of the legal landscape surrounding abortion in the United States. We’ll examine the law as it stands now – breaking it down into bite sized digestible pieces of information. Then we’ll crack open the history books to see how we got here, and last, but not least, we’ll peel back the onion a bit so we can thoughtfully consider the path forward.
Second, I am Roe, Hear me Roar is neither a political nor an advocacy show arguing for or against a particular position on abortion. Instead, it’s a revelatory show – safe for everyone, irrespective of your personal opinions or political position regarding abortion.
And, third, my goal with this podcast is to equip non-legal experts with the knowledge and information needed to have a better understanding of the legal and social tension surrounding abortion and why it’s seemingly impossible to find a middle ground. We didn’t get to this explosive place overnight, or by accident.
I must admit, as I’ve dug into this issue, from many perspectives now, I find it increasingly fascinating and hope you do too.
OK – with our expectations managed, let’s take a look at the topics we’ll cover:
We’ll begin by unpacking the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States – Roe v. Wade. We’ll break down the legal framework the court created – which was intended to strike a balance between the state’s interests in protecting both women’s health and fetal life. This way we’re all on the same page vis-a-vis what Roe actually says, and doesn’t say.
Then, we’ll step back in time and dive into the legal history of abortion in America. Interestingly, the law was silent on abortion until 1867 when Congress and state legislatures started passing laws restricting access to information about contraception, abortion, and all manner of other things. By 1910, abortion was illegal nationwide. And, it wouldn’t be legal again until 1973. This history is definitely a tale-to-tell.
Our historical review will take us right up to the late 1960s when the initial lawsuit in the Roe v. Wade dispute was filed as a challenge to a Texas law making it a crime for physicians to perform abortions. When we get there (the late 60s that is), we’ll hop behind the scenes, meet the players, including Jane Roe, Henry Wade, the teams of lawyers, the Texas judges, and the 9 Supreme Court Justices on the bench at that time, and follow the case as it winds its way through the Texas courts and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.
I’ll also give some air time to discussing why the case was actually argued before the Supreme Court not once, but twice …. and why issuing the decision on January 22, 1973 played a key factor in how the case was perceived at that time. I’ll give you a hint, the cease fire in Vietnam had gone into effect just a week before the decision, and the Paris Peace Accords – which effectively ended the Vietnam War – were signed a week after the decision. Perhaps even more poignant though is that former president Lyndon B. Johnson died the same day the decision was published. So, there was a lot going on at the time. As Billy Joel would later sing – we didn’t start the fire, it was always burning since the world’s been turning …
After our historical deep dive, we’ll set the stage for what has truly become a legal battle royale for nearly 50 years between the pro-abortion crusaders on the one hand, the anti-abortion crusaders on the other hand, and, a whole lotta lotta inbetween.
Given the broad sweeping nature of the Roe decision, 46 state laws criminalizing (or otherwise restricting) abortion were overturned, overnight. I believe this dramatic shift in the legal, medical, and social ecosystems in place at the time – without much warning or preparation – created a perfect storm for what has become an increasingly volatile and supercharged situation that we, as a country, struggle to manage every single day.
But Roe isn’t an outlier.
In 1992, 19 years after Roe was decided, the Supreme Court heard arguments on another pretty big abortion case. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court was asked to consider the constitutionality of Pennsylvania’s then new abortion control law, in light of Roe v. Wade. In Caset, the court actually upheld the core holding of Roe (that is essentially the heart of the case), but it threw out the legal framework created by Roe and replaced it with a slightly different one. We’ll explore Casey in detail, the court’s reasoning for it, and its practical impact on present day abortion restriction legislation, including the smattering of relatively new state heartbeat laws that make abortions illegal as soon as embryonic or fetal heart activity can be detected.
Finally, we’ll take a peek inside the abortion case currently pending before the court which involves the constitutionality of a Mississippi law that bans abortions after fifteen weeks of pregnancy, not the roughly 24 weeks, which is the timeline – give or take – allowed under Roe and its ascendants. If the Mississippi law is upheld, it would be a dramatic shift from the Roe and Casey decisions that collectively define when abortion is legal v. illegal. The case – called Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health – was argued before the Supreme Court just a few months ago, on December 1, 2021. We expect a decision from the high court in June or July of 2022.
Rest assured, I will be watching this case very carefully and will break it down, piece by piece, once the opinion is published. I believe this ruling will be the harbinger of the direction the abortion debate will take for many years to come.
We’re tackling a big topic on this podcast – and the nature and scope of its role in American life command thoughtful and respectful treatment. I will aim to do it justice.
Thank you, again, for tuning it.
I’m your host, Kelley Keller, and you’re listening to I am Roe, Hear Me Roar.
I’ll see you in the next episode.