by Samantha Aster, Executive Editor
Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. This historic decision secured the right of choice for American women and mainstreamed the abortion debate for generations. The decision declared a fundamental right for women to decide whether to bear children, subject to constraints in the interest of the protection of maternal life or health, and an interest in potential life. Abortion rights have since been limited, but the main effect of the decision is still in place today. As the basic tenets of the decision have stood firm over time, the debate over a woman’s right to exercise control over her own body continues. Since 1973, states have enacted sweeping legislation to further restrict, and in some cases almost ban, access to abortion related services. Similar measures in Congress have failed, but the effects are still widespread, especially in lower income and poverty stricken areas.
Support for Roe v. Wade is at its highest levels in history; seven in ten people believe that the decision should be upheld. Pro-choice groups are actively recruiting candidates to protect and defend the decision in courts and in the political arena. Emily’s List currently has an all day boot camp focusing on recruiting female candidates to run for office who will defend the legal right to an abortion. Even though public opinion generally supports the right to choice in most circumstances, Republican-controlled state legislatures are continuing to pass legislation that restricts this right. Republican lawmakers in Ohio are planning on reintroducing a bill that would ban abortions as soon as the fetal heartbeat is detected, which usually occurs around six to seven weeks into pregnancy. The Alabama Supreme Court recently declared fetuses to be children under state law, and pro-life activists in the state hope they can now prosecute those who seek abortions for child abuse. The long-fought battle for a woman’s right to choose is far from over, but we can be sure that the effects of Roe will continue to be acknowledged for years to come.
 Louise Radnofsky & Ashby Jones, Support Grows for Roe v. Wade, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323301104578255831504582200.html.
 Laura Bassett, On Roe v. Wades 40th Anniversary EMILY’s List Recruits Female Candidates to Defend It, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/roe-v-wade-anniversary_n_2525665.html
 Jessica Pieklo, Alabama Supreme Court Declares a Fetus is a Child, http://www.care2.com/causes/alabama-supreme-court-declares-a-fetus-is-a-child.html