Roe v. Wade Turns 40

The Jan. 22, 1973, United States Supreme Court ruling, which established that restricting a woman’s access to an abortion is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment’s guaranteed right to privacy, is celebrating its 40th anniversary today.

Abortion, a heavily debated and consistently controversial human rights issue, will receive substantial attention this week, as opponents and proponents alike remember the decision.

Every January, Washington, D.C., is the destination for numerous gatherings, protests and celebrations, hosting people from across the country who assemble in the nation’s capital.

One of such demonstrations is the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, an annual anti-abortion event that culminates in a march to the Supreme Court, to be held this year on Friday, Jan. 25, beginning at noon.

According to March for Life, the rally “draws thousands of pro-life activists and supporters” to D.C. each year.

In addition to this rally and subsequent march, related events will occur throughout the weekend, information for which is available at Other organizations similarly convene in the District to express discontentment with the legalization of abortion, in conjunction with the ongoing movement to overturn Roe v. Wade.

However, the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade is likewise an opportunity for abortion advocates to commemorate this landmark decision.

NARAL Pro-Choice America and the National Organization for Women are some of the pro-choice groups holding events in downtown D.C.

While today marks four decades of abortion access for women, it also represents a human rights debate that has been intensifying since 1973. Various laws at state and national levels have since been passed, according to the Planned Parenthood website, altering the processes required to obtain abortions.

Efforts to change existing abortion laws persist.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., recently introduced the first pro-life legislation for the 113th Congress. The Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act would prevent the Department of Health and Human Services from “providing federal family planning assistance under Title X to abortion businesses until they certify they won’t provide and refer for abortions,” as stated on the congresswoman’s website. Such a bill, introduced before in the House of Representatives, would de-fund groups like Planned Parenthood.

This is but one example of action in response to the Roe v. Wade precedent.

Abortion remains provocative and multifaceted, stimulating passion from individuals on both sides of the issue, nationwide. The Roe v. Wade 40th anniversary certainly reflects this debate’s significance and serves as an occasion to recognize its complexity.

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