Forty years ago, the Supreme Court voted 7-2 to protect a woman's right to have an abortion in her first trimester, citing the constitutional right to privacy. But now, the pro-abortion-rights Americans who fought to win the landmark Roe v. Wade decision might not recognize today's bruised-and-battered version of the law.
It began in 1992, when the Supreme Court gave states more power to regulate abortion, choosing to judge laws by whether they placed an "undue burden" on the mother, rather than the more rigorous "strict scrutiny" standard. Since then, many clinics that provide abortions have been forced to shutter their doors, and women who seek legal abortions face significant obstacles like waiting periods, mandatory ultrasounds, a lack of insurance coverage, and false medical claims. (North Dakota, for instance, requires doctors to warn patients about the supposed breast cancer risk of having an abortion. That claim has been proven false by the National Cancer Institute, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek.)
The last couple years in particular seen many wins for anti-abortion activists: According to the Guttmacher Institute, there were more abortion restrictions passed on the state level in 2011 than any prior year, and 2012 had the second highest number. President Obama has reiterated support for both Roe v. Wade and family planning clinics, and ObamaCare mandates employer insurance coverage for birth control. However, financially, it is still difficult for many women to obtain abortions, as 33 percent of patients do not have health coverage, and 31 percent use Medicaid, which doesn't cover legal abortions in many states.
Check out the chart below for more details on how the anti-abortion side has weakened Roe v. Wade since the 1973 ruling:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why Mitt Romney is perfectly poised for a comeback in 2016
- How to make classic pulled pork
- 8 secrets to steal from power networkers
- Why is the West so afraid of Islam?
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- The Nazi smart bomb that inspired China's most dangerous weapon
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
Subscribe to the Week