Roe v. Wade in the 21st Century
by Prathusha Yeruva
In 1973, the Supreme Court of the United States made a landmark decision that had the power to affect American women and their reproductive rights in an incredible way. Under Roe v. Wade, a woman could have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy (although states are allowed to define their interest in regulating abortions during the second and third trimester). Roe v. Wade was revolutionary in many ways; not only did the decision give women the freedom to decide what to do with their bodies, it also brought national attention to women's issues and defined a major distinction between the political parties.
Since 1973, many states have done their very best to restrict a woman's right to choose what happens to her body. Since 2010, nearly 282 restrictions have been passed in various states. These restrictions vary from implementing waiting periods between counseling and the procedure to banning abortion after the first trimester. On Friday, November 13th, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear an abortion case of out of Texas. This is the first significant abortion case that the court has heard in nearly two years. The case concerns a law that the Texas legislature passed under Rick Perry, which aims to impose strict regulations on abortion providers. It has made it nearly impossible for a woman to get an abortion in the state of Texas. Conservatives argue that the legislation intends to better the condition of hospitals and ensure that patients are subject to safe conditions, while liberals reason that this is just another example of people playing politics with a woman's rights.
The decision of this case will not be known until June, but until then it is important to remember that Roe did not legalize abortion. The decision legalized safe abortions. Since 1973, there have been nearly 50 million abortions in the United States. Annually, at least 50,000 women die due to unsafe abortions. Without the adequate legislation, that number would increase tenfold. As America waits to see what the future of women's rights will look like, people all over the country should try to understand this issue from the perspectives of those that it will affect, for people will be impacted at every level because of this decision. America should look at this decision from the perspective of 50% of its population: women.