Shirley Wheeler was found guilty in Florida of killing another child she was carrying but did not want.
She was the first woman in the state to be accused of violating anti-abortion legislation from the early 19th century. In addition, she may have been the first woman in the English-speaking world to be charged with a crime for getting an abortion.
Anti-abortion legislation is a violation of the constitutional rights and the equality of all women.
Shirley Wheeler’s Abortion Story: Her Biography
The 23-year-old Shirley Wheeler has always existed on the outer rim of the American dream.
Her alcoholic father abandoned the family when she was the eighth child of a southern millhand, and her mother died when she was 13 months old.
She was reared in North Carolina by friends and relatives up until the age of 16, at which time she was left alone. She asserts that she gave birth two years after being sexually assaulted by two youths.
Miss Wheeler did not contest the abortion but maintained that the pregnancy was less than five months old and that she had never felt the fetus move. In October, she was given a two-year probationary period.
What’s The Roe v. Wade Protest About?
The Roe v. Wade ruling is under fire and is thought to be open to partisan interpretation.
On Monday, January 22, 1973, the Supreme Court passed a ruling that helped the nation adopt a more progressive view of equality. However, Florida has long had a smoldering dispute over abortion rights.
Before Roe, there was Wheeler’s situation, which acted as a sort of public sacrifice, and the uncountable millions of other women who had similar circumstances.
The Florida Legislature has never held back when adopting laws or making moral declarations to limit women’s access to abortion.
What Happened To Shirley Wheeler?
Shirley Wheeler was detained, found guilty, and sentenced in 1970 for having an abortion. The first woman to receive a sentence for an abortion was she. The only explanation is that at the time, abortion was prohibited in the United States.
She did not, however, and neither did the rest of the world decide to remain silent. Instead, every newspaper and media outlet would run her tale, inspiring suffering women to gather in the street to demand justice for her.
Where Is Shirley Wheeler Now?
A woman’s struggle before the laws protecting abortion rights is the subject of Shirley Wheeler’s tale. In 1970, she underwent an illegal abortion in Florida when she was 22 years old.
When she refused to say who performed the procedure, she was taken into custody and charged with manslaughter. She was found guilty of terminating the pregnancy she did not want.
According to reports, she was the first American woman to ever face criminal charges for having an abortion. In addition, she was the first woman in the state to face charges for breaking early 19th-century anti-abortion laws.
After a two-day trial, she was found guilty of manslaughter under the requirements of Florida’s 1866 abortion statute. The government charged her with ending the life of a “quick” fetus or one that moved inside the womb.
She claimed that the fetus was younger than five months and that she had never felt fetal movement, even though she did not conceal having the abortion. She was nonetheless given two years of probation in October.
After hearing about Miss Wheeler’s conviction, thousands of other women around the nation who saw her as a victim of outdated abortion laws hailed her as a heroine. The slogan “Defend Shirley Wheeler” was carried by numerous ladies as they marched through the streets.
When she made an appearance at a Women’s National Abortion Action Coalition rally in Washington, the audience cheered her. But, according to N.Y. Post, she refused to comply with the police or the prosecutor by disclosing the identity of her abortionist.
She was supported by numerous groups and individuals who staged protests. In 1972, the Florida Supreme Court finally overturned her sentence. The Roe v. Wade decision, made by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, established that women had the right to choose an abortion.