Is Roe v. Wade Still Law?



DahliaLithwick.jpgI bet that headline caught your eye. Just like this headline caught my eye the other night: “The Death of Roe v. Wade.” In this Slate article, Senior Editor and Legal Correspondent Dahlia Lithwick (pictured at right) explores whether a woman’s right to choose, as guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, still exists given the spate of anti-choice laws proposed or passed at the state level.



Guttmacher Institute reports that 916 anti-choice measures have been introduced in 49 states since January 2010 and 15 such laws had been enacted in seven states by the end of March. Proposed measures include a tripling of the waiting period in South Dakota (now 72 hours), requiring women to view an ultrasound image of the fetus and hear a detailed verbal description before choosing an abortion, bans on abortions after 20 weeks, and revoking all forms of state funding for Planned Parenthood.

As Lithwick notes, “It hardly bears observing here that most of these measures are against the law,” the law being the Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. But she describes a hesitancy among pro-choice groups to challenge these laws for fear that the Supreme Court, which now contains more conservative justices than the last time the Court considered abortion legislation, would uphold them–or worse, overturn Roe v. Wade. The de facto result is, as Lithwick puts it, “allowing abortion as a matter of federal law while the states effectively outlaw it as a matter of fact.”

Lithwick seems assured that if these state laws do come before the Supreme Court, the justices will stop short of completely overturning Roe v. Wade because a majority of Americans still supports legal abortion. But that doesn’t change the fact that these anti-choice state measures are becoming law–and many of them are still being considered in state legislatures, so we have a chance to defeat them. Here’s what you can do:

  • Find out what anti-choice legislation has been proposed in your state.
  • Contact your state legislators and urge them to OPPOSE these measures. You can call, write, send an email, or schedule a lobby visit with the legislators and/or their staff.
  • Take action to protect abortion rights on the federal level: Call or email your Members of Congress today and urge them to OPPOSE anti-choice measures proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives.
    • Members of Congress are back in their districts and states until the end of April, so you can schedule a local meeting with them and/or their staff to discuss the federal anti-choice measures. Consult your elected officials’ websites to find out where they have local offices.

Email or call me at 202-387-2800 if you want more information about this issue and what you can do.

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Deborah Swerdlow

About Deborah Swerdlow

Deborah is the Religious Action Center's Program Associate. She was a 2010-2011 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant

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