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Roe v. Wade: 40 Years Later

According to recent polls and research, public opinion is shifting since the U.S. Supreme Court decision 40 years ago gave women the right to choose abortion.

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the culture-changing Roe v. Wade decision, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prohibiting a woman's right to choose abortion was a violation of her constitutional rights.

Since Jan. 22, 1973, the debate and perception of Roe v. Wade has evidently evolved.

According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, a majority of Americans say in most all cases, abortion should be legal

The poll shows 54 percent of adults believe the right to have an abortion should be afforded to women in all cases, or with exceptions, while 44 percent say it should be illegal.

Seventy percent of people are against Roe v. Wade ever being overturned, according to the poll. 

The ruling by Supreme Court justices all those years ago allowed for states to regulate abortion procedures as they saw fit, in the interest of a woman's health or protecting the fetus at the end or after the first trimester.

In 2012, 43 abortion restrictions were enacted in 19 states, the second largest amount of rules instated regarding abortion since 1985, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 

Twenty-four of those 43 new restrictions now exist in six states, which include Arizona, Kansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Wisconsin and South Dakota.  Though Georgia is not one of these states, I would not be surprised if the abortion issue arises in the GA legislative session at some point in 2013.

Tougher restrictions on access to abortion include limited health coverage available to pay for abortions, limits on the ability to have an abortion after the first trimester and a requirement that woman have an ultrasound before undergoing the procedure, according to the Guttmacher Institute

The Guttmacher Institute shows the following statistics on women who have abortions today:

  • 6 in 10 women who have abortions already have at least one child.
  • 58 percent are in their 20's.
  • 69 percent are economically disadvantaged.  
  • Nearly 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime.
  • 88 percent have an abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • 73 percent are affiliated with some type of religion.

The institute also shows that 15 percent of women who have abortions are married, 11 percent are previously married, 45 percent have never been married and 29 percent are living with a man.

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