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Forty Years After Roe v. Wade, Abortion Remains Contentious Topic


Yesterday, 40 years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal in the first three months of pregnancy, supporters celebrated the decision as anti-abortion activists protested in Washington D.C. and at statehouses across the country, reported Reuters.

At the federal Supreme Court, pro-life advocates laid down 3,300 flowers to symbolize the number of abortions that they said took place daily.

Meanwhile, groups like Planned Parenthood and the National Organization of Women commemorated the decision and the preservation of women's rights. A recent Pew Research Center poll reveals most Americans remain opposed to overturning the Roe v. Wade decision.

While women retain their right to abort a fetus within the first trimester, female reproductive health saw the second-highest number of state-level restrictions in 2012, surpassed only by 2011, the Guttmacher Institute reported.

And although abortion is legal, it is not easily accessible. Roughly 87 percent of U.S. counties do not have an abortion provider.

"More than half of all U.S. women of reproductive age (15-44) now live in a state that is hostile to abortion rights, whereas fewer than one-third did a decade ago," the Guttmacher Institute said in a statement.

In a pro-choice victory this past March, the Senate vetoed a Republican measure that would have allowed companies to opt out of birth control coverage and related services for employees on moral grounds.

Native women have played a significant role in the political firestorm surrounding abortion, and they continue to fight for the Violence Against Women Act to include provisions to protect Native women.

Among the most vocal supporters of women’s right to abortion was Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first woman president of the Oglala Sioux tribe. In 2006, South Dakota legislators proposed a law that would ban all abortions, including abortions for pregnancies that resulted from rape and/or incest. In response to the bill, Fire Thunder publicly stated her interest in opening a women’s health clinic on Pine Ridge property. This facility would offer women’s health care to non-Native women as well as local residents. However, the Pine Ridge community was divided in its support of Fire Thunder’s proposal, and she was eventually ousted from her position as tribal leader.