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: 7 in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should remain the law of the land.
Abortion Access: Then & Now
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.
But 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%. 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
The right to safe and legal abortion has been the law of the land for more than 40 years, and is a part of the fabric of this country. This is clearly established precedent, and shouldn’t be up for debate. And yet, opponents of abortion have made it increasingly harder for women to access — and these threats are not slowing down.
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice: This year, the Supreme Court will rule on challenges to Roe v. Wade that could strip women of the right to safe and legal abortion. President Donald Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, has an alarming history of interfering with reproductive rights and health. Speak out to say #NoRoeNoGo!
- Looming Abortion Restrictions: As part of a broader effort to chip away at Roe v. Wade and ultimately ban abortion nationwide, anti-abortion politicians have been pushing a variety of bills in Congress that would restrict access to abortion at any point in pregnancy nationwide. Anti-abortion members of Congress also have been trying for years to pass a nationwide ban all abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy.
- Existing Federal Abortion Ban: An abortion ban that became law in 2003 and upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007 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.
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.
Despite this precedent and Americans' consistent support for Roe v .Wade, anti-women’s health state legislators continue to attack abortion access through ballot measures and legislative restrictions.
Americans Support Roe v. Wade and Don't Want It Overturned
Support for access to safe, legal abortion is at a record high. Here are the stats:
- 70% of Americans don’t want to see Roe V. Wade overturned, according to surveys from Quinnipiac University and Pew Research. That's the highest rate since the case was decided more than 40 years ago, and it includes people who voted for Donald Trump.
- Support for Roe v. Wade is on the rise: In the last three years, opposition to overturning Roe V. Wade has gone up 6 points.
- Latinos in this country are very supportive of access to reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion: Contrary to stereotypes, 67% of Latino/a voters do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned and 82% agree with women making their own decision on abortion without political interference.
The vast majority of Americans have supported access to safe and legal abortion for decades. Americans simply don't believe that politicians or judges should be making decisions for women about their pregnancies.
Ensuring That Women Have Health 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 everyone have access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health care services, including abortion.
Bottom line: People must have access to safe, legal abortion services without interference from politicians. From courthouses to statehouses to Capitol Hill, Planned Parenthood works to protect that access — no matter what.