HomeoldHarry Blackmun’s daughter speaks about her father’s Roe v. Wade decision

Harry Blackmun’s daughter speaks about her father’s Roe v. Wade decision

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(The following is taken from Anne Hendershott’s, The Politics of Abortion, where Hendershott analyzes what Sally Blackmun said in Blackmun’s introduction to Gloria Feldt, The War on Choice.)

Sally Blackmun, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun’s daughter, talks about why he found in favor of Roe v. Wade:

“Sally Blackmun, an abortion-rights activist and daughter of Justice Harry Blackmun, who authored the Roe v. Wade opinion, recounts how personal considerations entered into her father’s thinking on the matter. She recalls that he often discussed the broad issues involved in his cases with his family “around the dinner table,” and says that “he really struggled with Roe V Wade.”

At one point, when the family was in the middle of a meal together, justice Blackmun asked Sally and her two sisters how they thought the case should be decided. They said that they favored the plaintiff.

Appearing to take partial credit for the historic Supreme Court decision, Sally suggests that her father was certainly influenced by “his 3 daughters and an outspoken, independent wife.” And although Justice Blackmun’s written decision cites a right of privacy that he found in the 14th amendment to the Constitution, his daughter maintains that he also viewed Roe as “an opportunity to give women rights that will emancipate them.”

Noting that her father had spent 9 years working as a general counsel for the Mayo Clinic, Sally Blackmun concludes that this period of his life “gave him the opportunity to see firsthand the aftereffects of botched illegal abortions.”

What would’ve happened if one of his daughters or his wife had been pro-life?


Daniel Miller is responsible for nearly all of National Right to Life News' political writing.

With the election of Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency, Daniel Miller developed a deep obsession with U.S. politics that has never let go of the political scientist. Whether it's the election of Joe Biden, the midterm elections in Congress, the abortion rights debate in the Supreme Court or the mudslinging in the primaries - Daniel Miller is happy to stay up late for you.

Daniel was born and raised in New York. After living in China, working for a news agency and another stint at a major news network, he now lives in Arizona with his two daughters.

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