Texas abortion law in front of Supreme Court just as Roe v. Wade was nearly 40 years ago

By Dave Andrusko

I imagine  perhaps not one in a hundred pro-lifers recognize the name Linda Coffee. She was the co-counsel, along with the more famous Sarah Weddington, in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, the twin juggernauts that launched a thousand abortion clinics.

So why did the rabidly pro-abortion Dallas Morning News run a profile of the 78-year-old Coffee this past week? Probably because it fits the “coming full circle” narrative.

On the one hand, Coffee “wrote the check on March 3, 1970, to file docket number CA-3-3690-B in a case named Roe vs. Wade in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas,” BeLynn Hollers writes. It took almost three years to work its way through the system and be decided by the Supreme Court 7-2 on January 22, 1973. Roe/Doe gave us essentially abortion on demand.

On the other hand, almost 40 years later, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Texas’s Heartbeat Law which is designed to protect unborn babies whose hearts have begun to beat, usually at about 6 weeks of pregnancy.

Nothing terrible newsworthy in Hollers story. Indirectly it reminds us that “Jane Doe” (Norma McCorvey) was a mere pawn. Coffee and Weddington “sought out a pregnant woman in order to start the case that became Roe vs. Wade.” Once they had no more use for her, McCorvey was ditched.

In an obituary written for McCorvey, the Washington Post’s Emily Langer wrote, “By the time the Supreme Court announced its decision, her baby was 2½ years old. She had given the child up for adoption and learned of the ruling in a newspaper article.” [Emphasis added.]

Coffee gave an intriguing answer to the question of whether she was open to any limitations on abortion.

Coffee said she may be open to changing her position on abortion regulations if it could be proved that a fetus feels pain.

“I don’t know why there hasn’t been more progress in some ways, maybe to determine whether or not the fetus can really feel pain,” she said.

Beyond that, Coffee said she does not see a need for restrictions on abortion.

“I really think that most women probably know what they want to do,” she said.

At the very end of the story, Hollers asked Coffee if she considered herself a historical figure.  Coffee replied, “I don’t think so.” She is far too modest. 

It was Coffee, not Weddington, who filed the case. It was Coffee, not Weddington, who initiated the court challenge against Texas’s abortion statute.

“Once considered unassailable legal precedent, the Roe ruling is facing its most serious threat in decades,” Hollers wrote. 

Let us hope she is prophetic.