Roe V. Wade Anniversary: Abortion Debate Rages On 42 Years Later

Even though an entire new generation has come of age since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, it’s difficult to say that its 42nd anniversary marks the end of the debate. In fact, the number of people who support or are against abortion today remains within a 10 percent margin of where those rates were in 1975, according to 2014 poll conducted by Gallup.

Twenty-one percent of Americans, up from 19 percent when Roe v. Wade went into effect, still do not believe in abortion under any circumstance. Those who support abortion under some circumstances dropped from 55 percent to 50 percent during the same period, but that may be related to another rise in the data: the number of participants who said they supported abortion under all circumstances rose from 22 to 28 percent.

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In the same poll around Roe v. Wade’s anniversary, Gallup also asked the question in the black-and-white terms that many have come to define their stance with on the controversial issue: pro-life or pro-choice. Those terms have also seen a huge shift since Roe v. Wade was decided. Interestingly though, Gallup’s poll has showed the two have switched their position as the majority opinion several times in the last few years.

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Of course, whether someone identifies primarily as pro-life or pro-choice might not necessarily be indicative of if they feel Roe v. Wade’s anniversary is a somber or celebratory occasion. In a separate poll on Roe v. Wade’s anniversary in 2013, Gallup asked this question directly: “Should Roe v. Wade be overturned?” The most recent results show a clear majority support the decision, 53 percent; although a significant 29 percent still do want to overturn the ruling. Over the last decade, the number of people who do not have an opinion on the topic has risen by more than 10 percent.

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Roe v. Wade’s legacy has also failed to reach a unanimous legacy for politicians. House Republicans recently dropped a piece of legislation that would ban abortions after 20 weeks after it “fell victim to inter-party disputes over concerns that the law would alienate women voters,” reported Fox News. Instead the House will be spending Thursday — Roe v. Wade’s exact 42nd anniversary — voting on a bill that would permanently ban the use of tax dollars for the procedure.

“The substitute bill would make permanent the so-called Hyde amendment, which bans all federal money for abortion services. Currently, Congress simply renews the amendment each year, which it has done since the mid-1970s. Voting on the bill Thursday would provide Republicans with a symbolic act on the same day that the anti-abortion March for Life is scheduled to begin in Washington (to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade).”

What does Roe v. Wade’s anniversary represent to you?

[Image via Sylvia McFadden, Flickr]