New Evidence Suggests Blackmun Should Have Recused Himself from Roe v Wade

Daughter's teen pregnancy and failed shotgun marriage played a part in ruling
Thu Mar 4, 2004 - 12:15 pm EST

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2004 ( - The late Harry Blackmun was the Supreme Court Justice who supported and authored the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which sanctioned the legalization of murder by striking down the US abortion law. In an interview Sunday, Blackmun’s daughter Sally Blackmun, the executor of his private papers, revealed the background behind his ruling. The interview is a result of her decision to release his private documents for public purview this week.  According to his daughter, Justice Blackmun’s choice to strike down the abortion law had much to do with input he sought from her. “Roe was a case that Dad struggled with,” Blackmun told the feminist news service, WomensEnews. “It was a case that he asked his daughters’ and wife’s opinion about.”  In 1966, while a 19-year-old sophomore at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., Blackmun discovered she was pregnant. “It was one of those things I was not at all proud of, that I was not at all pleased with myself about. It was a big disappointment to my parents,” she said. “I did what so many young women of my era did. I quit college and married my 20-year-old college boyfriend. It was a decision that I might have made differently had Roe v. Wade been around.”  Sally told WomensEnews that her marriage lasted only six years, and her college education took almost as long. “Even that might not have occurred, if she had carried to term,” she said. In 1972, Justice Blackmun sought his daughter’s opinion on the Roe v. Wade decision.

At the time of the decision, Sally Blackmun lived and worked in Washington. Her father gave her advance notice that he was to disclose his ruling, in order for her to be present when it was revealed. “I was very pleased with the decision and the fact that it gave women that right of choice,” she told WomensEnews. “Dad always felt that it was the right thing to do and the necessary thing to do toward the full emancipation of women in this country. So we certainly were in favour of what he did.”  Sally is an attorney for Darden Restaurants Inc., which operates a chain of restaurants nationwide. She is to be named chair of Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando in May, an organization for whom she has raised $3 million to construct a new abortion facility. Rita Lowndes, Former Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando chair says of Blackmun’s work, “Sally sees it as a way to honor her father’s legacy.”  Read the interview with Womensenews:

Read the report about the true legacy of Harry Blackmun, “Website Lists 347 Women Killed by Legal Abortions,” which describes “The Blackmun Wall” project at:

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