A Beleaguered Roe v. Wade at Forty
Bill Berkowitz printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 12:59:29 PM EST
On Friday, January 25, three days after the fortieth anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision -- which established a woman's constitutional right to abortion -- tens of thousands of anti-abortion protesters will once again hold their annual March for Life rally in Washington D.C. 



While there hasn't been another assassination of a doctor performing abortions since the 2009 murder of Dr. George Tiller -- who performed abortions at his clinic in Wichita, Kansas -- incidents of anti-abortion violence against health  clinics have continued. In 2010, Molotove cocktails were thrown at Planned Parenthood clinics in Madera, California and in north Texas. In January 2012, the American Family Planning Clinic in Pensacola, Florida was firebombed, and in April a bomb exploded on the windowsill of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, Wisconsin.



There have, however, been a series of anti-abortion legislative initiatives that have changed the political landscape, making access to abortion much more difficult.

Yet, despite these initiatives, recent polling has found that the American public continues to support Roe v. Wade.

Anti-abortion legislative remedies

Over the past few years, however, the anti-abortion movement has turned to friendly legislatures and has registered a string of policy victories - particularly in states with Republican governors and GOP-controlled state legislatures. These states have imposed severe restrictions on a woman's right to an abortion. In four states - North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi - there is only one clinic that, along with providing a broad array of women's health care services, performs abortions. 



Despite these anti-choice victories, a new survey from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life has found that more than 60 percent of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. 



At the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, is anyone winning the abortion wars?

Attacking abortion state by state



Although public opinion on Roe v. Wade has not changed significantly in recent years, what has changed is how aggressively anti-abortion politicians have pursued new restrictions on abortions in a number of states. 



According to the Guttmacher Institute, a group that does extensive research on abortion, 19 states enacted 43 state laws restricting abortion last year. In 2011, 92 restrictive laws passed - the highest number ever recorded in a single year. 



In addition, abortion providers nationwide, have decreased from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,793 in 2008.



The Religion News Service's David Gibson pointed out that "Pregnancy centers run by conservative Christians as alternatives to abortion clinics have been proliferating as well, and there have been concerted -- and often successful -- efforts to cut or bar government funding of Planned Parenthood."



Less than a month ago, Texas defunded all Planned Parenthood clinics in the state, even those that did not perform abortions. Recent bills passed in Michigan will increase regulation requirements for abortion providers.



According to an ABC News Radio report, "A law passed last summer in Louisiana now requires women to wait 24 hours between the time they undergo mandatory ultrasounds and the time they can have abortion procedures. This law also requires that the fetal heartbeat be made audible unless the woman specifically requests otherwise.  Unless the woman is a victim of rape, and has reported it, she must listen to a description of the ultrasound."



In Virginia, women "will still have to undergo a forced, medically-unnecessary ultrasound and scramble to find a clinic that can perform an abortion," rhrealitycheck.org's Robin Marty recently reported.

Pew research finds majority supports Roe v. Wade



The Pew report, titled "Roe v. Wade at 40: Most Oppose Overturning Abortion Decision," found that "opinions [on Roe v. Wade] are little changed from surveys conducted 10 and 20 years ago." And forty years after the Supreme Court decision, most Americans do not think the issue of abortion is a particularly critical issue: "53% say abortion `is not that important compared to other issues,' up from 48% in 2009 and 32% in 2006. The percentage viewing abortion as a `critical issue facing the country' fell from 28% in 2006 to 15% in 2009 and now stands at 18%."



According to the Pew national survey, "White evangelical Protestants are the only major religious group in which a majority (54%) favors completely overturning the Roe v. Wade decision. Large percentages of white mainline Protestants (76%), Black Protestants (65%) and white Catholics (63%) say the ruling should not be overturned. Fully 82% of the religiously unaffiliated oppose overturning Roe v. Wade."



Republicans are evenly divided on overturning Roe v. Wade, while Democrats and Independents oppose overturning it. And, perhaps surprisingly, the majority of both men and women oppose reversing the Supreme Court's decision.  



Several Republican Party senatorial candidates who painted themselves into deep corners while talking about rape, pregnancy, and abortion, were soundly defeated. 



During the past election, Missouri's Todd Akin set the standard when he stated that "if it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down" and not get pregnant. Last week Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia "became the latest Republican politician to tie himself into a pretzel talking about `legitimate rape,'" the National Journal reported.  



A recent Time magazine cover read: "40 Years Ago, Abortion Rights Activists Won An Epic Victory With Roe V. Wade -- They've Been Losing Ever Since." The Pew survey clearly indicates a majority of Americans do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned.



Religion News Service's Gibson also noted that so-called "'personhood amendments' that seek to leapfrog Roe and ban all abortions by declaring that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception have failed every time they have gone to the voters, even in the most anti-abortion states in the nation." 



Is anyone winning the abortion debate? 



At the fortieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade it is clear that the battle over reproductive rights is likely to be with us for at least another forty years.




Display:
in stopping them in the past is when we successfully get the public to be aware that the ones opposed to abortion also want birth control banned.

Once that connection is made, then their measures get defeated.  Most supporters change their minds really fast when they connect the dots, unless they've also been programmed to oppose birth control (and consequently sex).

They've managed to separate the two issues in people's minds, and I'd bet that if the two are tied back together, the opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade becomes far stronger.

Because they've made it part of their religion (ignoring the Bible they so claim to follow), you're probably right about the fight continuing for decades.  I think it's part of the whole package... the reality is if you support one part, you're probably going to get saddled with the rest of the dominionist package (by whatever flavor) in time.  People don't see that, however.  That's why they've won where they have (that, and in some areas dominionists do dominate the political scene).

by ArchaeoBob on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 11:45:34 AM EST

Savita Happ...lar (long South Indian name) was the dentist living in Ireland who had premature rupture of membranes at 17 weeks and was refused an abortion, even when she was obviously septic. She died of septic shock, entirely preventable. Rule #1 - when there is obstetric sepsis, the uterus MUST be evacuated promptly. Antibiotics are much less effective when the infected fetus or retained placental piece are still in place.

Lynn Paltrow's group has done research on inadequate or coercive treatment and on imprisonment of pregnant women in the US. Poor women of color  are targeted most often, largely because they are blamed by the culture at large for daring to procreate while brown. Poor white women are targeted as well. Occasionally middle class women with life-threatening diseases are refused medically necessary abortion (eg, for cancer treatment or for eclampsia). For more info, see RH Reality Check website for several articles.

I think that US women in general tend to believe that their own medical interests and wishes will always prevail over the fetus' life in situations where the mother's life is in danger. Not so, under no-exceptions or "to save the life of the mother" exceptions. The latter is interpreted to mean, intervene (maybe) when the woman is near death and unlikely to be saved. This has been true historically in the US and at present in the US (rare) and in other countries that restrict abortion. In Nicaragua, women die of tubal pregnancies! Tubal pregnancies are common, and can be easily treated before the tube ruptures and generates massive bleeding. Untreated tubal pregnancies always result in the woman's death.

by NancyP on Thu Jan 24, 2013 at 02:04:04 PM EST
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by dennishobson on Wed May 15, 2013 at 10:08:49 AM EST

This law also requires that the fetal heartbeat be made audible unless the woman specifically requests otherwise. jocuri cu bile - jocuri de gatit - jocuri cu mario

by mar1us91 on Sat Jul 06, 2013 at 06:20:28 AM EST


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