Who on earth are Roe and Wade?

There is a great debate going on here;

And I’m a little confused. It sounds interesting and I’d like to fully understand what the guys in this debate are talking about but not being American I don’t know anything about it. Could someone tell me about the case or give me a link to a site that does? If so I’d really appreciate it.

Hi Harris.

You know, search engines do still exist on the Internet. After doing a quick Google search, the first site that came up was this – http://www.roevwade.org. In a nutshell, there was this woman named Roe who wanted an abortion, Texas law prohibited it, so she fought it.

Read the full decision here: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=410&invol=113

I love FindLaw! Anyways, Roe was “Jane Roe”, a name assigned to Norma McCovrey (sp?) for reasons of anonymity. Wade was the District Attorney of Dallas County. Any lawyer types want to clarify why this is so named, while often, it’s the state, the United States, or “the people” that are the prosecuting side?

Or I could read my own link and see that it was a class action suit brought by Roe (and others) against Wade.


The English common law evolved a series of legal fictions to get around some of its own rigidities. One of the most famous fictions, to deal with a disputed title to land, came about because the proceudre to determine title was long and labourious, but the procedure to determine a disputed lease was relatively quick.

So if A and B were in a fight to determine who owned the land, they didn’t bring an action to determine title. Instead, the claimant brought an entirely fictious action on an entirely fictitious lease, between a fictious tenant, claiming to have a lease from A, against an equally fictious other tenant, claiming to have a lease from B. That allowed a summary determination of who had the better claim to the land.

[I know this sounds impossibly ULish, but I swear it’s true!!]

Different names were used for the fictious tenants, and eventually, “John Doe v. Richard Roe” became the customary fictious names. From that, the names gradually spread to other cases where the name of the litigant was unknown, or, as in Roe v. Wade, a litigant wanted to preserve her anonymity.

As for “the U.S.” or “The People,” criminal offences are a matter of public law, not private rights, and therefore the prosecution is carried on in the name of the sovereign, representing the entire community. In Britain and other monarchical countries, like Canada, the style of cause is “Her Majesty the Queen v. Roe.” (Abbreviated “R. v. Roe.”)

FWIW - Roe was used because Ms. McCovery claimed she was pregnant as the result of a rape.

She was lying.

I’m not sure that’s the reason. The litigants in Roe’s sister case were also given a pseudonym (Doe) although no rape was claimed. It was simply to protect their privacy.

There’ll be a whole lot more women lying if abortion is ever made illegal except in rape cases.

Row v. Wade. . .Hmm. . . Well, I’d much rather Row. I hate getting wet. :smiley:

( Oh, come on! Someone had to say it! )

That was one of the famous Dan Quayle jokes. That he thought Roe Vs Wade were just two ways of crossing the Potomac :slight_smile:

I heard it as “He’s so dumb, he thinks Wade Boggs is what you have to do to cross the Potomac.”


We ask that old threads in GQ only be raised to add new pertinent factual material. The linked news story is more pertinent to MPSIMS than GQ. I’m going to close this, lest it devolve into further Dan Quayle jokes.

General Questions Moderator