Attorney Sarah Weddington was once unsure of the staying power of the Roe v. Wade decision she fought so hard to obtain. “I’m just waiting for reinforcements,” she said in 2003. “The public has taken the right to abortion for granted, but I believe the opposition will actually be what convinces the American people to fight back.”
Almost a decade later, the 2012 election may be the call to action Americans needed. After an election cycle that gave us Todd Akin’s lessons in “legitimate rape”, and a string of Republican candidates who seemed intent on outdoing each other with insensitive and ludicrous statements on rape, contraception, and abortion, polls now show the American public with record high support for abortion rights.
Talking to Andrea Mitchell on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Weddington described the evolution of the decision over the years as “an up-and-down roller coaster.” While it remains the definitive law on abortion, the anti-abortion battle still rages on the state level. NBC’s Pete Williams describes “something like 750 restrictions” passed by the states to limit abortion rights–restricting such things as how women can be told abortions are available and making it harder for clinics that provide abortions to operate.
Still, Weddington seems optimistic about the future of abortion rights. “A lot of women are beginning to really pay attention,” she told Andrea Mitchell, “If you look at the last presidential election, there were so many women who voted for Obama…Women said, ‘No, we’re not going to have a president who’s opposed to our making our own decisions.’ That was critical in this election.”
That attitude also remains critical for the cause.
The Court as it stands now would most likely allow Roe to stand. But Pete Williams points out that the timing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s departure from the bench will be critical to the question of if the decision will be revisited or overturned.
Read more; How technology may protect a woman’s right to choose.