On this day in 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark decision Roe v. Wade affirming a woman’s right to an abortion, a momentous leap forward for women’s health. Despite this hard-won victory, Roe v. Wade is under constant attack, with anti-choice activists chipping away reproductive freedoms at the state level.
States have passed more laws restricting abortion in the past three years than in all of the 2000s. Every state except Oregon has at least one abortion restriction on the books, and there’s a push to ban abortions earlier and earlier in pregnancy, with North Dakota even attempting to enact a six-week ban.
With the state-level backlash against reproductive rights, it’s important to recommit ourselves to protecting the health and rights of women. The Roe decision may be decades past, but this fundamental right is in danger of being legislated away.
In its annual State of Reproductive Health and Rights report card, the Population Institute gave the United States an inexcusable C- on reproductive rights, citing our high rate of unintended pregnancies (50 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned) and the states’ assault on abortion providers. In its conclusion, it applauded the Affordable Care Act for expanding coverage for reproductive health, but says this was undercut by politically motivated attacks on abortion access.
Anti-choice proponents may have shifted from acting on a federal stage to state-level guerrilla tactics (with the not-so-hidden agenda that a state case will make it to the Supreme Court to challenge Roe v. Wade), but that makes the threat to women’s health no less imminent. We can’t forget the tireless vigilance still needed to guarantee that reproductive choice remains accessible to all women.