Roe v. Wade

Roe v. Wade

On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its landmark decision in the case of Roe v. Wade, which recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions — including the decision to have an abortion without interference from politicians. Over 40 years later, Americans are still standing by this decision: In fact, 67% of Americans believe Roe v. Wade should remain the law of the land. 

Abortion Access: Then & Now

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In 1965, illegal abortions made up one-sixth of all pregnancy — and childbirth — related deaths. A survey conducted between 1965 and 1967 found that 8 in 10 low-income women in New York City who had an abortion attempted a dangerous self-induced procedure.

abortion-99-percent-safety-record-125x120-2x.pngBut now that abortion is legal, it has become one of the safest medical procedures in the United States — with a safety record of over 99 percent, in fact. Moreover, because it is legal, women who decide to have an abortion can receive support throughout the process from medical professionals.

Nationwide Attacks on Roe v. Wade

Despite abortion being safe, legal, constitutionally protected, and consistently supported by a majority of Americans, opponents of women’s health have made it increasingly harder for women to access it.

  • The Existing Federal Abortion Ban: Although Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land, an abortion ban that became law in 2003 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007 actually criminalizes certain abortion procedures in the second trimester of pregnancy — procedures that doctors say are often the safest and best to protect women's health. 
  • Looming Abortion Ban & Restrictions: 
    • As part of a broader effort to chip away at Roe v. Wade and ultimately ban abortion nationwide, some politicians are also pushing a variety of bills in Congress that would restrict access to abortion at any point in pregnancy.
    • Anti-abortion politicians in Congress are pushing a harmful policy that would ban almost ALL abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.

State Attacks on Roe v. Wade

In Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, including her decision to have an abortion. Therefore, a state may not ban abortion prior to viability. In the more than 40 years following that landmark ruling, in decisions including Casey v. Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, the Supreme Court has never wavered from this principle.  

And yet, anti-women’s health state legislators continue to attack abortion access through ballot measures and legislative restrictions.

  • State lawmakers have passed 288 restrictions on safe, legal abortion since the 2010 elections. 
  • That means one-quarter of all abortion restrictions enacted since Roe v. Wade were passed between 2010 and 2015 — despite the public’s overwhelming support for women’s access to safe, legal abortion. 
  • In a case that would have a big impact on abortion access nationwide, the Supreme Court is set to rule this year on whether to uphold dangerous, medically unecessary abortion restrictions in Texas.

Ensuring that Women Have Care, No Matter What

For almost a century, Planned Parenthood health centers have been providing professional, nonjudgmental, and confidential health care and information to keep women healthy and prevent unintended pregnancies. As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand why it’s so critical that women have access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health care services.

To protect their health and the health of their families, women must have access to safe, legal abortion services without interference from politicians. From courthouses to statehouses to Capitol Hill, Planned Parenthood works to protect access to health care for women across the country — taking action to ensure that women have access to care, no matter what.


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