How CBS News covered Roe v. Wade in 1973

By Jonathan Miller

/ CBS News

CBS News on Roe v. Wade decision

Walter Cronkite announced "the decision to end the pregnancy during the first three months belongs to the woman and her doctor, not the government" on January 22, 1973 when the Supreme Court decided the outcome of Roe v. Wade.

Cronkite said "the anti-abortion laws of 46 states were rendered unconstitutional" to lead the CBS "Evening News" broadcast that evening.

CBS News' George Herman read a news report about the 7-2 Supreme Court decision, which made it legally possible for women throughout the country to terminate her pregnancy within the first three months.

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"In two related cases in eight separate opinions, the nine justices made abortion largely a private matter," Herman said.

As Herman reported, the court made abortion the decision of a pregnant woman's doctor, and states could make no laws restricting the doctor's right "if his patient needs an abortion and to carry out an abortion in the first three months of a pregnancy."

In cases between four and six months of pregnancy, individual states could establish laws regulating the operation. States were granted the right to prohibit abortions during the last two and a half months of pregnancy, when the fetus can live outside the womb. Many states were forced to make dramatic revisions in their laws in order to abide with the Supreme Court ruling.

President Nixon's White House offered no comment, Herman said.

Herman said the "newly liberalized abortion law" led to "immediate reaction." Dr. Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood said the decision would give a woman "the freedom of choice" while Monsignor James McHugh said it is "teaching people abortion is a rather innocuous procedure provided there are proper legal safeguards."

On Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed the state's controversial near-total abortion ban. The new law is the most restrictive anti-abortion measure passed in the United States since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973.The legislation provides no exceptions for rape or incest. Alabama's ban is the latest in an onslaught of state-level anti-abortion measures that activists hope will be taken up by the Supreme Court and potentially overturn Roe v. Wad

First published on May 15, 2019 / 10:06 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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