In 1976, just a few years after the Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wademost Americans thought abortion should be legal under certain circumstances.
those numbers haven’t changed much in nearly 50 years. Most Americans still believe that abortion should be legal in most cases† But our politics has changed drastically. Anti-abortion Democrats and pro-abortion rights Republicans are dwindling races.
Why? One major reason is a deliberate, decades-long campaign for the right to overthrow Roe v. Wade† Conservative lawyers brought cases that undermined roe in the hope that the Supreme Court justices would eventually feel comfortable dropping the ruling by canceling the ruling.
The anti-abortion movement has also focused on building a pipeline of judicial nominees through organizations such as the Federalist Society. The left, meanwhile, has focused on shifting party opinion on related issues such as contraceptive coverage and the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of government funds to pay for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or endangering the life of the survivors. mother, during the treatment of roe as a largely settled matter.
Now all those years of work by anti-abortion activists seem to be paying off. If the Supreme Court falls Roe v. Wadeas it appears to be doing based on the draft advice leaked Monday night, it will throw in nearly 50 years of jurisprudence.
Over the decades, the ruling turned into one of the biggest lightning rods in American politics, and those years were punctuated by pivotal moments.
Here are the main ones.
1973: Roe v. Wade is decided. Judge Harry Blackmun writes the opinion and believes that people have a constitutional right to an abortion in the first and second trimester. He bases that right in the 14th Amendment right to a fair trial and an implied right to privacy.
1976: The Hyde amendment is adopted for the first time. The measure prohibits the spending of government funds on abortion services, except in cases of rape, incest or threats to the mother’s life. The provision exemplifies the kind of restrictions on abortion that the right continued to champion for the next five decades — and eventually draws the focus of the Democratic Party.
1978: James Bopp is named general adviser to the National Right to Life Committee, the country’s largest anti-abortion group. He becomes the architect of the strategy that seems to succeed today: an “incremental” approach to slowly undermine roe until, he hoped, the judges would eventually destroy it. Over the next four decades, Bopp helped states and places enact abortion restrictions and, when those restrictions were challenged, defended them in the courts. Bopp also wrote the anti-abortion plank for the Republican Party Platform in 1980†
1980: A new alliance between Catholics and Evangelicals, driven in part by opposition to abortion, helps Ronald Reagan win the Republican nomination and ultimately the presidency. It’s the first time abortion has become a major national political problem since roe — and that’s partly because evangelical leaders saw it as a politically tastier problem than theirs real concerns: maintaining segregation in schools† Yet the alliance, known as the Moral Majority, is becoming a political force to be reckoned with in the coming years, elevating the anti-abortion case and religious right.
1992: The Supreme Court decides Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey Planned Parenthood, a case involving state-level abortion restrictions in Pennsylvania. roe survives, but in this first serious test for abortion rights since the was decided, the Court sets new limits to the law. In a 5-4 decision, the Court states that states can impose abortion restrictions as long as they do not create an “unnecessary burden” for the pregnant person and replace the trimester frame with a “viability” of the fetus standard. Under these new standards, the Court will maintain most of Pennsylvania’s restrictions.
2006: Cecile Richards becomes the president of Planned Parenthood. It is a conscious move to select a leader fit to build the political power of the organization across the country and within the Democratic Party. Richards organizes the group’s local chapters and capitalizes on political events in 2010 and 2011, helping Planned Parenthood become a force in the Democratic Party — so much so that in 2012 the party included a statement of support for Planned Parenthood in its platform†
2009: dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider in Kansas, is murdered while serving as a messenger in his church† It is the most extreme example of the rise of violent actions by anti-abortion activists†
2010: In March, President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Because Obama needed the support of even pro-life Democrats to pass it, the bill included a compromise on abortion, the Boxer-Nelson Amendment. It allowed states to ban plans in the insurance market to cover abortion. President Obama also signed a executive order stated that the Hyde amendment applied to the ACA, and abortion rights activists responded by creating a coalition to defeat the Hyde amendment.
That fall, the Republican Party dragged into the midterm elections, thanks in part to opposition to the ACA and the rise of the Tea Party movement. The following year, states passed a record number of abortion restrictions.
2011: The American House passes a change by then-Rep. Mike Pence wants to abolish Planned Parenthood. While the amendment fails the Senate, it becomes a polarizing force between the parties.
Abortion Rights Organizations capital letters on the amendment and the Tea Party’s wider effort to downgrade and restrict abortion rights: Online gifts to Planned Parenthood rose 500 percent and NARAL’s email activist list grew 1,000 subscribers a day at the height of the debate over Pence’s amendment.
The president and the Democratic Party believe that women have the right to determine their reproductive choices. Democrats support access to affordable family planning services, and President Obama and Democrats will continue to oppose Republican efforts to fund Planned Parenthood health centers. The Affordable Care Act ensures that women have access to birth control in their health insurance plans, and the president has respected the principle of religious freedom. Democrats support evidence-based and age-appropriate sex education.
2016: Thanks in part to the movement that began after the ACA in 2010, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are calling for the Hyde amendment to be repealed in their presidential campaigns that spring. The DNC in the end adopts that language for his party platform.
Come in November Donald Trump is elected president and effectively delegates judicial selection to the conservatives Federalist Society† He appoints three Supreme Court justices during his tenure: Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
2019: As laws that would ban abortions spread across the US after the sixth week, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden endorses the repeal of the Hyde amendment on the campaign trail. As president, he will try to keep his promise; his first budget proposal turned the Hyde amendment around, though Congress, which ultimately holds power, rejected it.
2020: Liberal judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies of cancer less than two months before the presidential election. Trump and the Republican Senate are quick to confirm Federalist Society-endorsed Barrett, giving conservatives a 6-3 supermajority on the Court and pushing anti-abortion groups to draft state laws restricting abortion, which would lead to challenges and a confrontation in the Supreme Court.
2021: Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case regarding a law in Mississippi banning abortion after 15 weeks is argued in the Supreme Court. The conservative litigants expressly ask the Court for annulment roe deer, and the judges indicate that they are open to this.
2022: Judge Samuel Alito’s draft majority opinion in dobbs has been leaked to Politico and confirmed as authentic, but not definitive. Opinion, if it holds, would change Roe v. Wadeleaving abortion rights to the states unless Congress intervenes and passes a national policy.