January 22 marks 40 years of Roe v. Wade, which symbolizes freedom for women to choose legal abortions after four decades of attempts by Republicans and religious conservative groups to get it overturned.
The 40th anniversary comes at a time when support for legalized abortion is at an all time high, in spite of several conservative states enacting laws to restrict abortion clinics and making it harder to get one, including Texas, where Roe v. Wade originated.
According to a Wall Street Journal poll, 70% don't support overturning Roe v Wade and 54% say abortion should be legal in all circumstances as a private matter between a woman, her doctor and her family.
The landmark decision in 1973 by the Supreme Court 7-2 duel ruling of cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, which said that a woman’s right to choose abortion should be legal under the right to privacy and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment.
There have been hundreds of legal challenges to abortion, with Pro-life groups frequently launching organized protests against freedom of reproductive choice, which have oft-times ended in violence, like the bombing of abortion clinics and a doctor shot for conducting legal procedures.
The Supreme Court has heard many cases trying to severely limit or overturn Roe, but the closest ruling came in 1992. Court justices had internal and sometimes rancorous disagreements on the subject and the withdrawal of a “yes” vote by Anthony Kennedy after he changed his mind, saved Roe v Wade from being overturned.
However, the 1992, decision gave pro-lifers a partial victory when the Supreme Court ruled to allow individual states to regulate their own abortion laws. As a result, the fight against abortion continues to be waged at a state level, with 43 restrictions enacted in 19 states, with more pending.
Nonetheless, the anniversary of Roe v Wade is celebrated every year by pro-choice groups, who support all women’s rights, including access to safe and legal abortions.
Statement from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA):
As we mark the 40th anniversary of the historic Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we must recommit to defending women’s reproductive health. While we have had many major victories over the past four decades to reaffirm this decision, there is no denying there are those who are committed to turning the clock back on women and families in America and their access to the health care services and choices they deserve. We all want to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, but as a Senator – and as a mother and grandmother – I am deeply concerned about the attempts around our country to slash health care and education options that will only produce the opposite effect. Women in this country must remain the primary decision makers when it comes to private choices about their bodies and we all must continue the fight to protect this right for the next forty years and beyond.
One of the many controversies surrounding pro-life opposition to legal abortion is the Republican mantra that rejects government interference in personal business unless it is something they view as morally objectionable personal business by other people.
In that case, like restricting women's personal choice, all bets are off and they want the government to enact laws to do their bidding.