Roe v. Wade
On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision, Roe v. Wade, recognizing the constitutional right to privacy and a woman’s right to choose abortion. Many of us don’t recall the deadly days before Roe when abortions were illegal, and "choice" for too many women meant a dangerous back-alley procedure. In fact, in 1965 — before Roe — nearly one-fifth of all maternal deaths in the United States were due to illegal, unsafe abortions.
Decades later, a woman’s constitutional right to choose still isn’t safe, and Roe is in serious jeopardy. In 2005, Congress confirmed the appointment of two new anti-choice Supreme Court justices — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. — both of whom had been nominated by President George W. Bush. As a result, the court is closer than ever to overturning Roe.
In 2007, in a 5–4 decision, the court upheld the federal abortion ban passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in 2003. Although Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, the ban criminalizes abortion procedures in the second trimester of pregnancy that doctors say are often the safest and best to protect women's health. Thus, the ruling allows politicians to make medical decisions that should be made by women and their doctors. Anti-choice legislators are attempting to launch a wave of state abortion bans, in the hope that the new anti-choice court will overturn Roe, leaving a woman’s right to choose safe and legal abortion in the hands of 50 different state legislatures.
Planned Parenthood is fighting in Washington and the states to make sure the right to choose a safe and legal abortion remains secure for women, regardless of where they live.