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Roy Lucas, Roe v. Wade Lawyer, Dies at 61

By Editorial Staff
Published November 7, 2003

Legal Theorist Who Helped Shape “Right to Privacy”

By IAN URBINA

Roy Lucas, a lawyer who helped fashion the “right to privacy” legal argument used in Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion in the United States, died on Monday in Prague. He was 61 and lived in Washington.

The cause was a heart attack, said his sister, Mary E. Lucas. She said her brother was in the Czech Republic doing research.

From 1966 to 1973, Mr. Lucas helped shape the legal battle for abortion rights. He was the first person to articulate fully how the Supreme Court’s 1965 Griswold decision, which created constitutional privacy protection for married couples’ use of birth control, could be legally expanded into a constitutional protection for a woman’s right to an abortion, historians say.

Mr. Lucas was a third-year law student at New York University when he made that pivotal argument in a research paper for a class on litigation. The paper was published in the June 1968 issue of the North Carolina Law Review and began circulating widely. Soon after, Mr. Lucas established the James Madison Constitutional Law Institute, a public interest legal organization based in Manhattan, to advance abortion rights.

In September 1969, he filed the first abortion rights lawsuit in New York. For the next four years, he was directly involved in almost all abortion rights suits filed across the country.

Roe v. Wade was filed in 1970, and Mr. Lucas had hoped to argue the case before the Supreme Court. But the informal committee of lawyers who were handling the case decided instead to give the assignment to another lawyer on the team, Sarah Weddington of Texas.

Mr. Lucas continued to argue abortion rights cases after Roe, but remained deeply disappointed at having been passed over as lead counsel before the Supreme Court, said David Garrow, a legal historian at Emory University and the author of “Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade” (University of California Press, 1998).

In 1986, Mr. Lucas pulled back from his legal work, which had helped precipitate two divorces, Ms. Lucas, his sister, said. Instead of engaging in nonstop advocacy, she said, he bought a Volkswagen van and began traveling the country to pursue his love of oil painting. Accompanied only by a pet collie, Michelangelo, Mr. Lucas traveled from Maine to Hawaii, painting mostly landscapes and occasionally writing freelance magazine articles on painting techniques. He rarely stayed in one location long. For extra money, he taught law classes at local universities. He also did occasional pro bono legal work.

In 1997, Mr. Lucas was given a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. While undergoing chemotherapy, radiation and a bone marrow transplant, he lived in San Antonio. By 1998 the cancer was in full remission, and he moved to Washington.

Spurgeon LeRoy Lucas Jr. was born on Nov. 27, 1941, in Columbia, S.C. His father worked for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and his mother was a housewife. He majored in chemical engineering while earning his bachelor’s degree at the University of South Carolina.


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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.

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Running Time: 130 minutes

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Massacre of Innocence (DVD)

Exposing The Occult Roots of Abortion

This presentation looks at the spiritual roots of abortion and exposes the myths surrounding child killing. Little known historical facts about abortion and how they relate to modern feminism are presented logically and accurately. Has been effective in converting many to a pro-life position.

Massacre of Innocence goes where no pro-life presentation has gone before in “tearing the lid off abortion” to reveal the spiritual realities we must battle if we will bring an end to this crime. The presentation is absorbing, fast-paced, informative and incredibly devastating to any attempt to justify abortion.

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— Congressman Robert K. Dornan

Running time: 85 minutes

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.

Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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