Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade, right to abortion under threat in US

Revisited FRANCE 24

Forty-six years after Roe v. Wade, the historic US Supreme Court decision recognising the right to abortion, the issue continues to bitterly divide public opinion in the United States. Already undermined by local policies, this fundamental right is now threatened at the federal level, following the appointment of two conservative judges to the Supreme Court. FRANCE 24’s team reports.


Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a woman’s right to abortion, is perhaps the most famous ruling by the US Supreme Court. The historic milestone, dating back to 1973, refers to the battle between Jane Roe (not her real name) and the state of Texas, represented by Dallas District Attorney Henry Wade. Roe, who was just 21 years old, was pregnant for a third time and wanted to have an abortion. But like in 45 other US states, the law in Texas prohibited it. She decided to approach two feminist lawyers, who seized upon her case as a symbolic one to fight all the way to the Supreme Court. 

It took three years of legal wrangling before the Supreme Court gave its final decision. By a 7-2 majority, it recognised abortion as a fundamental right guaranteed by the US constitution, based on a woman’s "right to privacy".

Over the past 46 years, the law has never been overturned, but the issue continues to divide public opinion. Little by little, local policies are chipping away at the federal law. Clinics which carry out abortions are closing one after the other, and abortion can no longer be paid for with federal funding. 

Moreover, the Supreme Court now has a conservative majority, following the appointment of two new judges by President Donald Trump. 

Nearly half a century after Roe v. Wade, the right to abortion appears increasingly under threat in the United States. One of the frontlines in this battle is the state of Alabama, as FRANCE 24’s Sophie Przychodny and Manon Heurtel report.


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