5 Ways 'Roe v. Wade' Is Still Under Threat 42 Years Later [UPDATED]

The U.S. Supreme Court decision made it the law for women to have a choice when it comes to abortion—and has been met with angry dissent ever since.

Antiabortion activists stage a 'die-in' in front of the White House on Jan. 21. (Photo: Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images)

Jan 21, 2015· 3 MIN READ
Chanel Dubofsky has written for Cosmopolitan, The Frisky, RH Reality Check, and The Billfold, among other publications. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
UPDATED Jan. 22, 2015—11:10 a.m.
House Republicans decided to drop the bill that would ban almost all abortions at after 20 weeks in response to lawmakers within their party raising objections to the bill, saying it went too far.

Theoretically, abortion will still be legal in the United States on Thursday's anniversary of the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.

While Roe preserves one’s rights as an American woman, individual states have found ways to erode abortion access and impose a long list of limitations to when and how women can have the procedure. Bills such as the "Personhood" measures (rejected by voters in both Colorado and North Dakota in the 2014 midterm elections) and the Heartbeat Bill, which died in the Ohio House in 2014 but passed in Alabama and North Dakota, seek to make it impossible to get an abortion, even if it remains technically legal under Roe.

Since the beginning of 2015, Congressional Republicans have introduced five bills (all of which we’ve seen before in some iteration) that threaten the existence of Roe and seek to determine your reproductive fate for you, regardless of where in the United States you live.

“None of these bills protect life or promote safety, “ said Katie Klabusich, a reproductive rights activist who has worked with The Clinic Vest Project and Planned Parenthood. “The goal of the Republican legislators is clear: They are punishing those already on the margins because their lives are continually traded away out of political convenience."

Let’s take a closer look.

1. So Extreme It Made the GOP Angry

While almost all abortions are performed before 21 weeks of pregnancy, federal legislation dubbed the 20-Week Abortion Ban would outlaw abortions after 20 weeks in every state. This is a direct infringement on rights women have under Roe v. Wade, and President Barack Obama has threatened to veto it if it makes it to his desk. Two female Republican senators, Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind., who were listed as cosponsors on the bill, have asked that their names be removed from it. So the president would veto it, and even Republican women don’t want to be associated with it, but that won’t stop men from trying to make it happen (again and again).

2. We’ve Seen This One Before

Since 2010, nine states have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood, and this federal bill has the backing of more than 80 House Republicans. Introduced this month, the bill would once again try to take federal grant money away from clinics that provide abortions and a host of other non-controversial health care options, including mammograms and STD testing.

3. Confusing on Purpose: Admitting Privileges

Another federal bill makes it mandatory that abortion providers obtain admitting privileges at hospitals—the tactic that led to the closure of many clinics in Texas. The move plays nicely into the stigma that abortion isn’t safe and isn’t performed by skilled providers, when in fact, it’s one of the safest medical procedures available. A study released by the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology in 2014 found that women who have abortions experience complications due to the procedure less than 1 percent of the time, and the majority of these complications are minor. If a patient does end up needing to go to the hospital, an EMT decides which hospital (the closest), which might not be the same one where the provider has admitting privileges. Forcing abortion providers to get admitting privileges (or else face closure of their clinic) means demanding that they face a serious wall of red tape, as well as the possibility that a hospital—a Catholic hospital, for example—could deny admitting privileges to an abortion provider because it doesn't like abortion.

4. The One That Sounds Theoretically Good: Sex-Selective Abortion Ban

As of 2014, eight states have passed sex-selective abortion bans, which stop folks from having abortions because they don’t like the sex or gender of the fetus they’re carrying. Which might seem like a slam dunk in terms of preventing something terrible, but pro-choice activists say it's just one more way that the rights of women are being chipped away. The problem is this ban would have us think that sex-selective abortions are wildly popular in the U.S., which we know is not the case. Also, it’s convenient that every time a ban such as this has been introduced, it’s been by an anti-choice politician.

5. Further Adventures in “Non-Discrimination"

The Abortion Non-Discrimination Act of 2015 may cause a bit of déjà vu—it looks like it's going to echo the core argument of the Hobby Lobby case. In short, people who have a moral objection to birth control, abortion, etc., can’t be forced to buy health insurance that covers those things. If a company doesn’t want to cover abortion or birth control for its employees, it doesn't have to do it, because apparently, the health care needs of its employees are less important than their personal feelings.