WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — The U.S. Supreme Court announced its historic decision in Roe v. Wade 46 years ago today, on Jan. 22, 1973. In a 7-2 ruling, the court recognized for the first time that the constitutional right to privacy "is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."
Roe v. Wade is best known as the case that legalized abortion nationwide. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, before the ruling nearly all states outlawed abortion except in situations when it's being performed to save a woman’s life.
"We’ve been on a downward spiral for 40 years," said pro-life activist Judy Devries. "I’m excited to see the [Supreme Court] might be getting more conservative, so I think this is an opportune time to actually get some things done. We want to see abortion not only illegal, but unthinkable."
Pro-choice activist Erin Matson said, "We are standing up and demanding that abortion opponents be held accountable for putting people in jail for having abortions ... We are motivated and the grassroots are building power to ensure we defend people’s rights."
According to the World Health Organization, "when abortion is made legal, safe, and easily accessible, women’s health rapidly improves. By contrast, women’s health deteriorates when access to safe abortion is made more difficult or illegal. Legal abortion in developed countries is one of the safest procedures in contemporary practice, with case-fatality rates less than one death per 100,000 procedures."
Last September, a survey from ScottRasmussen.com found that more Americans of all ages and ethnic groups consider themselves in favor of abortion rights than against. According to the poll, 48 percent of voters consider themselves "pro-choice" while 37 percent say they're "pro-life."