With our right to control our own bodies teetering on the edge of collapse, this month marks the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court landmark decision that made history by establishing the constitutional right to abortion: Roe v Wade was decided on January 22, 1973. But in a few months, the Supreme Court could erase nearly 50 years of precedent by overturning Roe and ending our protected rights.
This, despite the fact that 80% of Americans want abortion to remain legal. The court's decision, expected in June, would pave the way for state lawmakers to ban abortion for nearly half the country. There are 26 states now on the brink of taking away a person's freedom to make this critical health care decision for themselves — leaving 36 million women — or about half the U.S. population of women* of reproductive age — plus, even more people who can become pregnant, with no access to abortion.
While the Supreme Court decision made abortion a right, access to abortion has never been simple or equitable, especially for people with low incomes or Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities. Abortion is not only essential health care, it’s very common — nearly one in four women in America will have an abortion by age 45. Still, politicians backed by a small but mighty minority have worked tirelessly to put abortion out of reach for millions with harsh — and usually unreasonable — restrictions. In 2021, bans and restrictions on abortion reached the highest rate in nearly 50 years. More than 600 new abortion restrictions were proposed in 2021 alone, and more than 100 were signed into law.
When lawmakers block people's right to decide their own future and make life decisions with abortion bans, everyone is hurt. But no one is harmed more than people for whom systemic racism and discrimination have already limited health care access. Abortion restrictions are especially dangerous for Black, Latino, and Indigenous communities, people with disabilities, people in rural areas, young people, immigrants, and those who have difficulty making ends meet.
Planned Parenthood believes no one can be free unless they have the right to control their own body. We respect and value every person's personal health care decisions: We trust you to know your life best, because it’s your body, your pregnancy, and your unique set of circumstances. Today — on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade — and every day, we do everything we can to ensure that every patient can access the sexual and reproductive care, including abortion, they need and deserve.
We work so that all patients have the education and accurate information about all of their pregnancy options — including adoption, abortion, and parenting — and can make their own personal medical decisions in a safe and supportive space. Our highly skilled doctors, advanced practice clinicians, nurses, and Planned Parenthood health center staff work to provide patients with access to safe and legal abortion — even in the face of continuing political attacks. And we will never back down.
* We know that not just women get abortions, but we’re quoting research, and unfortunately pregnancy data is still very gendered.