Justice Ginsburg Discusses Roe v. Wade at the Law School
Forty years after the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade case legalized abortion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the case is not her "ideal picture" for resolving the controversial issue of abortion.
Instead, the landmark decision gave abortion-rights opponents a rallying point that is still used today, Ginsburg — the second female justice ever appointed to the court — told a packed crowd Saturday at the University of Chicago Law School auditorium.
"The court had given the opponents a target to aim at relentlessly," she said.
Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton, joined university law professor Geoffrey Stone for a sold-out conversation on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
Ginsburg, 80, said another case, Struck v. Secretary of Defense, would have been her choice as the first reproductive freedom case heard by the nation's high court.
In that case, U.S. Air Force Cpt. Susan Struck became pregnant in 1970 while serving in Vietnam. Ginsburg, who at the time represented Struck as a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the woman had two choices: leave the military or have a legal abortion on base.
Struck told her commanding officer that she arranged to have the child adopted upon birth, but she was still forced to leave Vietnam and was sent back to the U.S., Ginsburg said.
Ginsburg prepared the case for the Supreme Court in 1971, but it was never heard after the Air Force changed its policy on pregnancies and allowed Struck to have the child and remain in the service.
"The idea was: 'Government, stay out of this,' " Ginsburg said. "I wish that would have been the first case. The court would have better understood this is a question of a woman's choice."