Roe v. Wade.  Decided two days after Nixon's second inaugural.  Little needs to be said of the impact of this decision on American politics.  With the rise of the Religious Right, "compromise" became a thing of the past.

What is little known is how this decision was made.  The idea of "viability" was not part of Justice Blackmun's first or even second drafts of the abortion cases.

January 1973 explains for the first time, based on exclusive interviews with Larry Hammond, Justice Powell's law clerk, the central role of Justice Powell and his law clerk in the fashioning of the opinion.

Stop abortion
Choice
Justice Harry Blackmun

Justice Harry Blackmun

The heart of the matter is that somewhere, either forthwith at conception, or at ‘quickening,’ or at birth, or at some other point in between, another being becomes involved and the privacy the woman possessed has become dual rather than sole. . . . It is not for us the judiciary, especially at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, to speculate or specify when life begins.
— First Draft of the Abortion Decisions, Justice Blackmun
Justice Lewis Powell only took part in the abortion cases after it was agreed to re-argue the cases in June 1972.

Justice Lewis Powell only took part in the abortion cases after it was agreed to re-argue the cases in June 1972.

Chief Justice Burger with President Nixon in the Oval Office at approximately the same time that the Court was deciding to re-argue Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton--and just days before the second, disastrous Watergate break-in.  June 1972.

Chief Justice Burger with President Nixon in the Oval Office at approximately the same time that the Court was deciding to re-argue Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton--and just days before the second, disastrous Watergate break-in.  June 1972.

Powell's notes from the re-argument of Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton.  The conference on the re-argument took place on October 11, 1972.  No one argued in Doe or Roe that "viability" should be the standard.

Powell's notes from the re-argument of Roe's companion case, Doe v. Bolton.  The conference on the re-argument took place on October 11, 1972.  No one argued in Doe or Roe that "viability" should be the standard.

Powell's memo to law clerk Larry Hammond asking to be reminded of the judges' decision in Abelee v Markle.  This is key to understanding Roe's outcome.

Powell's memo to law clerk Larry Hammond asking to be reminded of the judges' decision in Abelee v Markle.  This is key to understanding Roe's outcome.

AFTER THE COURT AGREED TO THE "VIABILITY" STANDARD, JUSTICE POWELL WROTE A PRIVATE NOTE TO HIS LAW CLERK ON WHO SHOULD GET CREDIT FOR THE COURT'S OPINION AS IT WAS FINALLY CONFIGURED

It seems to me that Justice Blackmun has reached a constitutionally sound result and stated it clearly. Although he gives credit in his memo of December 1 to others, I suggest you you are entitled - particularly in view of your education of me on the viability issue - to credit that is nonetheless substantial because it will never be recognized. I think I was perhaps the first to press for [the] viability change.
— Lewis Powell to Larry Hammond, January 3, 1973