Roe v. Wade and Beyond: Forty Years of Legal Abortion in the United States

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: This January marked the fortieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in the United States. In ways not anticipated by the coalition of physicians and feminist health activists who fought to legalize abortion in the years leading up to Roe, the abortion conflict remains the most divisive issue in American domestic politics. More than any other issue, the abortion war symbolizes the still contested concerns originally brought forward by second-wave feminists in the late 1960s—the changing relationship between the genders, the place of women in the public sphere, the legitimacy of sexual activity separated from procreation. What have been the benefits and costs of this landmark Supreme Court decision?

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... However, rather than Roe settling or diffusing the abortion debate, the decision served as a rallying point for two opposing movements endeavoring to either maintain or overturn this legal precedent (Fried 2013;Joffe 2013;Franklin and Kosaki 1989). Although there is no agreement about whether Roe served as the beginning of the political polarization of abortion across the country, legal and political scholars have written extensively about the "backlash" effect of the decision, which some argue was caused, at least in part, by the Court being too far ahead of public opinion (Greenhouse and Siegel 2011). ...
The relationship between people’s attitudes toward abortion acceptability and the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, two distinct but related issues, has not been rigorously explored. Using a mixed methods approach, we analyzed in-depth interviews to better understand how participants’ feelings toward abortion acceptability are related to perceptions of whether abortion should be legal. Then, we assessed (i) correlations between abortion acceptability and different measures of support for Roe v. Wade (ii) how the phrasing of survey items related to Roe v. Wade may evoke different responses via online surveys fielded in 2018. Our qualitative results highlight that there is a disjuncture between people’s moral feelings toward abortion and their attitudes toward abortion legality. Our quantitative results further demonstrate that correlations between abortion acceptability and support for Roe v. Wade are not strong, but rather moderate, and the differences in responses to the phrasing of survey items related to Roe v. Wade are moderated by knowledge. When developing survey items, we recommend researchers avoid ambiguities of abortion as a general construct, especially when public opinion measures on abortion are employed for research and the design of social and health policy and practice.
... 5 One investigator noted that "An under-recognized benefit of abortion is that it has enabled child spacing, which has positive benefits for both women and children." 6 The connection between abortion and child spacing in the context of family planning has been referenced by various professional associations. The American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ABOG) 7 emphasized "healthy child-spacing" in their application for approval of a subspecialty certification in Complex Family Planning. ...
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Introduction/objectives: Although a majority of women who have an abortion report having 1 or more children, there is no published research on the number of abortions which occur between live births, after a first child but before the last. The objectives of this research, therefore, were to estimate the period prevalence of an induced abortion separating live births in a population of Medicaid eligible enrollees and to identify the characteristics of enrollees significantly associated with the use of abortion to enable child spacing. Methods: A retrospective, cross-sectional, longitudinal analysis of the pregnancy outcome sequences of eligible enrollees over age 13 from the 17 states where Medicaid included coverage of all abortions, with at least one identifiable pregnancy outcome between 1999 and 2014. Eligibles with a defined sequence of birth-abortion-birth within up to 5 consecutive pregnancies were identified to estimate the number of eligibles who could have practiced birth spacing by abortion. Logistic regression was applied to identify the significant predictor variables of the birth-abortion-birth sequence. Results: There were 50 012 (1.02%) of 4 875 511 Medicaid eligible enrollees exhibited a birth-abortion-birth sequence. Eligibles with the birth-abortion-birth sequence are more likely to be Black than White (OR 2.641, CL 2.581-2.702), less likely to be Hispanic than White (OR 0.667, CL 0.648-0.687), and more likely to have received contraceptive counseling (OR 1.14, CL 1.118-1.163). Increases in months of Medicaid eligibility (OR 1.004, CL 1.003-1.004) and months from first pregnancy to second live birth (OR 1.015, CL 1.015-1.016) are associated with the likelihood of undergoing live births separated by one or more induced abortions. Increases in the age at first pregnancy are associated with a decreased likelihood of the birth-abortion-birth sequence (OR 0.962, CL 0.959-0.964). Conclusion: Birth spacing via abortion is uncommon among a low-income population for whom the financial barriers to abortion are somewhat alleviated.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling was pivotal in American women’s fight for the right to abortion. It was based on the constitutional principle of the right to privacy and was criticized that it would be more appropriate to base it on the principle of equality. The aim of the article is to compare the way in which the U.S. Supreme Court rulings legalizing abortion have been argued with the Polish Constitutional Tribunal’s 2020 ruling limiting the already restrictive right to abortion. The article analyzes the judgment of the Constitutional Tribunal and presents its potential effects in terms of women’s rights, gender equality and freedom. In its conclusion, the article points to possible legal solutions to the abortion dilemma and addresses the issue of gender discrimination.
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