A Wave of New Abortion Restrictions Is Eroding Roe v. Wade

The dream of overturning Roe v. Wade may yet come to pass for abortion opponents. But as state-level restrictions on the right to abortion continue to mount, the anti-abortion movement is steadily chipping away at the spirit of Roe while it remains on the books.

The case that recognized a constitutional right to abortion, Roe v. Wade, is now 41 years old, and 2014 marks the 41st year of determined opposition to the ruling.


A new report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that the past few years have brought the anti-Roe camp the most significant victories it has achieved in four decades. The inroads against the right to abortion have come, by and large, in state legislatures, not in courts. They have been piecemeal. They have come brick-by-brick. But they have constructed a new foundation that effectively limits abortion rights for millions of American women. Last year alone, 70 new laws to restrict access to abortion were enacted in 22 states.


The restrictions come in many forms. Nine states now ban abortions beyond 20 weeks, about a month before the point of fetal viability established as the permissible threshold in post-Roe Supreme Court litigation. Thirty-nine states prohibit physician assistants, certified nurse midwives and nurse practitioners from providing early abortions, limiting the practice to licensed doctors. Eight states enacted new limits on the licensing of abortion clinics in 2013. Most notorious was Texas’s licensing law, ruled unconstitutional in October and currently under review by an appeals court, that would result in the closure of about a third of the state’s abortion clinics.

The Guttmacher report chronicles the magnitude of the trend:

In 2000, 13 states had at least four types of major abortion restrictions and so were considered hostile to abortion rights (see Troubling Trend: More States Hostile to Abortion Rights as Middle Ground Shrinks); 27 states fell into this category by 2013. In contrast, the number of states supportive of abortion rights fell from 17 to 13, while the number of middle-ground states was cut in half, from 20 to 10. The proportion of women living in restrictive states went from 31% to 56%, while the proportion living in supportive states fell from 40% to 31% over the same period.

The dream of overturning Roe v. Wade may yet come to pass for abortion opponents. But as state-level restrictions on the right to abortion continue to mount, the anti-abortion movement is steadily chipping away at the spirit of Roe while it remains on the books.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Will China’s green energy tipping point come too late?

Pay attention to the decisions made by the provinces.

Surprising Science
  • China leads the world in numerous green energy categories.
  • CO2 emissions in the country totaling more than all coal emissions in the U.S. have recently emerged.
  • This seems to be an administrative-induced blip on the way towards a green energy tipping point.
Keep reading Show less

Got a question for a real NASA astronomer? Ask it here!

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller is coming back to Big Think to answer YOUR questions! Here's all you need to know to submit your science-related inquiries.

Surprising Science

Big Think's amazing audience has responded so well to our videos from NASA astronomer and Assistant Director for Science Communication Michelle Thaller that we couldn't wait to bring her back for more!

And this time, she's ready to tackle any questions you're willing to throw at her, like, "How big is the Universe?", "Am I really made of stars?" or, "How long until Elon Musk starts a colony on Mars?"

All you have to do is submit your questions to the form below, and we'll use them for an upcoming Q+A session with Michelle. You know what to do, Big Thinkers!

Keep reading Show less

5 communication pitfalls that are preventing people from really hearing what you're trying to say

If you want to be a better and more passionate communicator, these tips are important.

Photo by CloudVisual on Unsplash
popular

If you identify as being a socially conscious person in today's age of outrage, you've likely experienced the bewildering sensation when a conversation that was once harmless, suddenly doesn't feel that way anymore. Perhaps you're out for a quick bite with family, friends, or coworkers when the conversation takes a turn. Someone's said something that doesn't sit right with you, and you're unsure of how to respond. Navigating social situations like this is inherently stressful.

Below are five expert-approved tips on how to maintain your cool and effectively communicate.

Keep reading Show less

Take the Big Think survey for a chance to win :)

Calling all big thinkers!

  • Tell us a little bit about where you find Big Think's videos, articles, and podcasts.
  • Be entered for a chance to win 1 of 3 Amazon gift cards each worth $100.
  • All survey information is anonymous and will be used only for this survey.
Keep reading Show less
(Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Culture & Religion
  • The next Mega Millions drawing is scheduled for Oct. 23 at 11 pm E.T.
  • The odds of any one ticket winning are about 1 in 300 million.
  • This might be a record-setting jackpot, but that doesn't mean you have a better chance of winning.
Keep reading Show less

The value of owning more books than you can read

Or how I learned to stop worrying and love my tsundoku.

(Photo from Wikimedia)
Personal Growth
  • Many readers buy books with every intention of reading them only to let them linger on the shelf.
  • Statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes surrounding ourselves with unread books enriches our lives as they remind us of all we don't know.
  • The Japanese call this practice tsundoku, and it may provide lasting benefits.
Keep reading Show less

How to raise a non-materialistic kid

Money makes the world go 'round. Unfortunately, it can make both children and adults into materialists.

Robert Collins / Unsplash
Personal Growth
  • Keeping a gratitude journal caused children to donate 60 percent more to charitable causes.
  • Other methods suggested by researchers include daily gratitude reflection, gratitude posters, and keeping a "gratitude jar."
  • Materialism has been shown to increase anxiety and depression and promote selfish attitudes and behavior.
Keep reading Show less

Elon Musk's high-speed test tunnel will give free rides on Dec. 11

The Boring Company plans to offer free rides in its prototype tunnel in Hawthorne, California in December.

Image: Getty Images/Claudia Soraya
Technology & Innovation
  • The prototype tunnel is about 2 miles long and contains electric skates that travel at top speeds of around 150 mph.
  • This is the first tunnel from the company that will be open to the public.
  • If successful, the prototype could help the company receive regulatory approval for much bigger projects in L.A. and beyond.
Keep reading Show less