40 Years After Roe v. Wade, Women Are Still Facing Challenges to Their Reproductive Rights

Over the past two years, a number of states have introduced legislation regarding a woman’s right to choose — from mandating intrusive ultrasounds to requiring parental permission.

Business Week has this handy, interactive (not to mention mesmerizing) infographic that puts it all in perspective:

Tuesday, January 22nd, will mark Roe v. Wade’s 40th year as a piece of legislation, yet here we are decades later still facing roadblocks for women regarding their reproductive choices. 2012 was a banner year for restricting such choices, as 122 new limitations were enacted, the second-highest number in history.

Reproductive rights affect everyone regardless of age or gender. Like so many battles we fight for, the Religious Right is our main obstacle to getting those rights.

We’ll fight another 40 years if we have to, but how depressing that this is still an issue at this point in our history.

About Lauren Lane

Lauren Lane is the co-founder of Skepticon, the Midwest's largest skeptic student-run conference and remains a lead organizer today. She has not one, but TWO fancy art degrees and is not afraid to use them.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    Excellent chart and good reminder to use the anniversary to bring up the topic in the workplace.

  • The Anti Atheist

    Over a Million babies are aborted by murderous mamas every year. That over 40 MILLION since Roe V. Wade.

    More than the Holocaust.

    Give all those mamas Darwin Awards.

    But how many dead will it take to satisfy the Atheist Blood Lust?

  • mck9

    Nitpick: Roe v. Wade was not a piece of legislation; it was a court decision (unless you want to argue that the Supremes were legislating from the bench).

  • Nate Frein

    Since roughly half of all embryos fail to implant in the uterus…

    Doesn’t that make god the biggest abortionist of ‘em all?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    let me guess, you’re a man. a white man. a white man without a girlfriend or wife. who isn’t terribly overeducated. i’m sorry about your penis. but you should understand, evolution is real, your god isn’t, and we’ve already passed the point where there will be more brown and black people in this country than white people. trying to control the reproductive habits of white women isn’t going to change that.

  • Cortex_Returns

    But surely it was all God’s Plan. He wanted little fetuses in Heaven because he loves them so much! Awww, that cuddly God….

  • Phil Cleaver

    Carefel there. It’s rather misandrist to assume those who are anti choice must necessarily be white men. It is attitudes like that, that turn a lot of white men off of feminism and lead to beliefs that all femenists are white man haters.

  • raytheist

    Dyke: as a white male myself, and a strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose, I thoroughly agree with you. I’ve heard by 2050 whites will not be the majority demographic. I hope that is true. The sooner this country gets beyond white privilege, male privilege, Christian privilege, hetero-privilege, it will be a great day for America.

  • Phil Cleaver

    A zygote does not equal a baby any more than a chicken egg equals a chicken.

  • disqus_goXIbCyVke

    @The Anti Atheist

    It is Jesus who commanded to accept what is
    mandated by the government. It’s all nice and easy explanation. You need
    to take it up with Jesus, not with Atheists who are lusting after
    embryonic blood. Surely, you don’t get it that Jesus is OK with

    You may want to look up this below? I am all for this Biblical abortion right, are you? Just asking…

    Numbers 5:12-28: First we must cite the
    one passage in the Bible that the anti-choice extremists will never tell
    you about. While the Bible never forbids abortion, nor does it really
    encourage it either, there is one passage from the Law of Moses that
    explicitly authorizes abortion in the case of a married woman who
    becomes impregnated by a man other than her husband.

    This passage says
    that if a man suspects his wife to be pregnant by someone else, he can
    take her to the priest who will prescribe the “bitter water” (the known
    abortifacient produced by combining pennyroyal with black cohosh) to
    terminate the unwanted pregnancy. Please note, this is part of the LAW
    OF MOSES. This is not a specific instance to a particular individual or
    couple. This was a general prescription of practice for God’s “Chosen
    People” — the Jews, from whom the promised Messiah was supposed to

    By the way, can you point me where I can get some baby blood?

  • Cortex_Returns

    There’s a pretty strong historical association between economic prosperity and women’s rights. When the economy goes south, norms become more patriarchal and violence against women increases (yes, these laws and proposals are acts of violence – women will die and be injured because of them). To my knowledge, it’s not clear whether this represents greater aggression against women due to frustration, or that women making less money weakens the organizations that fight for their rights. In either case, though, it seems worthwhile for women’s rights organizations to build a sizeable warchest during boom times.

  • Carmelita Spats

    Holy hotcakes, Batman! I also weep when I see a used menstrual pad! There could be a potential life on the menstrual discharge if the mother was on the pill or using an IUD as both of these abortifacients affect the lining of the uterus and kill babies! Every vagina should be inspected by Homeland Security. Rep. Bobby Franklin (R-GA) wants every miscarriage investigated as a potential homicide and Arizona Republicans believe life begins the first day of your last period! Praise!

    Bottom line: Just because Yahweh slaughters babies doesn’t mean that slutty women have permission to kill! The only references to abortion in the Bible are to coerced abortion as a punishment for nonbelievers, sinners and those who fail to recognize God’s chosen people. In Second Kings, we learn that Menahem, leader of the Israelites, smote all the people who refused to follow him “and all the women therein that were with child he ripped up” (2 Kings 15:16).Later, in Hosea, we learn that because the land of Samaria rejected God,“Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their
    women with child shall be ripped up” (Hosea 13:16). Hosea decided to carry out God’s vengeance on the people by killing the unborn babies carried by the heathen women. He promised to “slay even the beloved fruit of their womb”(Hosea 9:16). We worship a pro-life biblegawd who is drunk with blood, dammit! Glory!

  • Someone

    An off topic comment on the infographic: If Montana is part of the West, then why is Idaho considered mid-west? Idaho is further west than Montana.

  • RobertoTheChi

    A baby? You do know what a zygote is, right?

  • Octoberfurst

    “But how many dead will it take to satisfy the Atheist Blood Lust?” Hmmm, great question Anti-Atheist. You’ve caught on to us! Let’s see, personally I think it will probably take a couple hundred million more. We just can’t get enough of it! (To be honest, I happen to love starting the day bathing in aborted baby blood. It’s invigorating!)
    On a more serious note, I know it must be hard being a brain-dead fundamentalist and having to cope with people who have sound arguments. And since you have no cognitive skills you have to make up absurd crap to try to make a point. But keep trying! Maybe someday you will say something that doesn’t get you laughed at.

  • Question Everything

    You know, you sound like a very logical person. I’m sure reasoned arguments will convince you. Lines about “Atheist Blood Lust” really give it away. So let’s give it a whirl.

    Look up some stats on the religion of abortions. Hey, let me Google that for you, in fact – http://www.guttmacher.org/in-the-know/characteristics.html is a decent starting point.

    “More than seven in 10 U.S. women obtaining an abortion report a religious affiliation (37% protestant, 28% Catholic and 7% other), and 25% attend religious services at least once a month.[38]”

    Is it still atheist blood lust if more than 70% of abortions are obtained by women who report that they are religious?

  • Randomfactor

    Based on the odds it’s a good bet, though.

  • randomfactor

    You just prove his point. It’s genocide against the religious! /snark/

  • eric

    There’s a lot of hidden assumptions in that graph. Does it count pro-choice legislation? Neutral laws that have nothing to do with the abortion debates? How did BW pick the laws it represents?
    Still, I get the gist and am just quibbling.

  • J-Rex

    Actually, they’re finding that the pill does not prevent implantation. It’s just wishful thinking on the part of conservatives that want more reasons to ban women from having sex.

  • TheG

    Based on the population of prisons, odds are that that someone who smokes crack or robs a store MUST be black…

  • RobMcCune

    Tragically no amount of trolling will satisfy your troll lust.

  • WildRumpus67

    Negroes eat watermelons and Asians are good at math, too.

  • CelticWhisper

    “By the way, has anyone ever wondered why it is that with a human, we call it an abortion, and with a chicken, we call it an omelette?” -George Carlin

  • Sue Blue

    The pill doesn’t prevent implantation. It prevents ovulation, so there’s no conception, and no zygote to implant. The belief that the pill is an abortifacient is one of the leading misinformation points of the anti-choicers. In reality, the pill is one of the leading abortion preventatives – something that the misogynist sex-controllers masquerading as anti-choicers really don’t want people to know.

  • WildRumpus67

    Phil, you’re obviously being downvoted my white man hating feminists.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    phil, i apologize if i offended you. but have you ever seen the movie “army of god?” or been to a clinic defense? i have. and you know what? it’s mostly white men who show up to deny women choice. it’s funny like that; take all the white men out of the anti-choice movement and suddenly it doesn’t have any money, lots of adherents, or media coverage and political power.

    odd, that. also: you should check out abortion providing facilities in places like urban chicago. where black and brown women use birth control. there are almost no signs, protests, or other drama there. like i said, it’s odd.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    and if you ever get the chance, take a drive on the highways in MN. it’s sort of amazing. sign after sign after sign, little blue eyed blonde babies begging “mommy don’t kill me!”

    there aren’t any of those with brown eyed nappy headed children in chicago. like, none.

  • Phil Cleaver

    That’s the fault of some Minnesotans, not all white men.

  • Phil Cleaver

    Just be careful throwing around the term “white man”.

    Visit a prison and see what a high proportion of black men are incarcerated. Doesn’t mean all criminals are black men.

    Women pray more often then men and are more likely to believe in God. Doesn’t mean all religious people are women.

    Stereotyping is stereotyping and just because this blog deals a lot with feminist issues instead of atheism, shouldn’t mean that misandrists get a free pass.

  • Sergio Castro

    Yeah, this is something the “anti atheists” (double negative anyone?) should answer: Why is it God’s will if a fetus is miscarried or stillborn, but not God’s will that a similarly-aged fetus can be aborted by one of His children? Or why is that not part of our free will? And who is this Will guy anyway? I’m so confused!

    Abortion lowers the crime rate – significantly (Google Donahue-Levitt). What do the Not Not Theists have to say about that?

  • clane

    Now that there are more babies born out of wedlock than ever before…ANY woman should be able to go ANYWHERE and receive a safe, clean abortion if that is HER wish..NO ONE else should be involved in that decision…her body, her rules!

  • Patterrssonn

    ” It is attitudes like that, that turn a lot of white men off of feminism and lead to beliefs that all femenists are white man haters.”

    Is this from a study or did you just make it up?

  • Patterrssonn

    Damn those perfidious white man hating feminazis are at it again!

  • DougI

    In positive news, Dr. Tiller’s old clinic will be opening up again with 3 doctors and expanded services. The terrorists will have to shout at women coming in for prenatal care, pap smears, abortions, contraception, etc. With three doctors they’ll have their hands full stalking, harassing, sending death threats and plotting assassinations.

    Presently the local government isn’t run by pro-terrorist Republicans so maybe they might actually work on preventing terrorism this time around rather than giving it a pass.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    I don’t disagree with your general point, but there’s nothing wrong with being born out of wedlock. If a woman wants to have a baby, it doesn’t matter if she’s married or unmarried. And plenty of married women also have abortions!

  • allein

    I noticed several of those last time I drove out to Lancaster County, PA, too. I went to school out there and I don’t recall seeing those billboards 15 years ago.

    (Also, there is a clinic near where my brother lives, which we passed on the day we helped him move into his house a few years ago; it was pouring rain and there were still 4 or 5 people out there protesting.)

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Wasn’t there some billboard with a black baby saying that abortion is genocide against African Americans? I think the anti-abortion crowd likes to use minorities when it’s convenient for them, such as their claim that the pro-choice movement is racist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    @The Anti Atheist
    You state that over a million abortions occur in this country every year. (I’ll assume that’s true, I don’t know the actual statistic, but the real number doesn’t really matter.) You are absolutely correct that this is a horrible tragedy, I completely agree that it is outrageous that so many abortions have occurred since Roe v. Wade. We, as a country, should be outraged and we should all make a commitment see those numbers drop. But I think you are missing the point on why it is so tragic.

    We all ourselves a civilized society, yet every year over a million women in our country are faced with the agonizing decision of whether or not to end an unwanted or unviable pregnancy.

    In a small minority of cases, the child is desperately wanted but because of some medical reason, an abortion may be the best choice. Restrictions on abortion just add more pain and suffering to an already agonizing situation. How can anyone not personally involved even presume to be able to decide how much a woman should risk her own life to bear to term a child that has little or no chance of survival? Unfortunately, things go wrong in pregnancies, and there will always be a need for abortions in some situations.

    In most cases an abortion is the result of an unintended pregnancy, which is the result of some sort of failure. The failure of our healthcare system to provide care, information and reliable contraceptives in an affordable way. The failure of our education system to provide accurate information. The failure of families, churches and society in general to provide moral guidelines for sexual behavior. And in a few cases the failure of the contraceptives used, which could be greatly reduced if we could get more reliable methods, like IUDs, into the mainstream, but the cost is a huge barrier to most women. It is a travesty that all of these failures continue to linger in our society.

    Even more horrendous are the reasons some women give for choosing abortion over raising an initially unwanted child. They say they can’t afford it. They risk losing their job if they take time off, they can’t afford to take time off work in the first place, they can’t afford the basic necessities of food and clothing, they have little or no access to medical care during the pregnancy or for the child. We are one of the richest nations in the world, how is it that our poor are so neglected that they cannot afford one more tiny mouth to feed? This is what strikes me as comparable to the Holocaust. We, as a country can’t take care of our most vulnerable citizens? With all our riches we can’t provide everyone with the minimal basics to raise a child? We can’t enact worker protection laws so mothers can take maternity leave and still have a job to come back to? We can’t provide food and help finding jobs to poor families? We should be ashamed of ourselves!

    Yes, it is absolutely appalling that anyone would choose to abort a healthy fetus, but given the numerous failings we are faced with in our society it is understandable that they do. These problems can’t be fixed by making abortions harder to get. We have to deal with the actual problems: lack of access to health care, lack of education, lack of support for poor families, lack of access to effective contraceptives, lack of support for women who might choose adoption. This is what the “war on women” looks like and it is indeed shameful and horrible that it is still going on 40 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade. With the passage of so many needless restrictions on abortions and little if any progress on better healthcare, education and contraception access, we have essentially gone backwards, not forward, as a society. It is shameful, absolutely shameful.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    It’s probably something he picked up from male supremacists.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Damn. Now I want an omelette.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Umm… I think the two of you (J-Rex and Sue Blue) missed the sarcasm. We all know how the pill works, Cecelia is making fun of the morons who think it’s some kind of abortifacient.

  • Patterrssonn

    Well he thinks that misandrist is a real word and he thinks its all the fault of the wimmenz. Definitely getting into testeria territory here.

  • bernardaB

    “Misandrist” is a real word coming from “misandry” and refers to hatred or fear of men. It is different than “misanthrope” which refers to someone hating all mankind, both male and female. Unfortunately many dictionaries don’t list those words.

  • Patterrssonn

    Well let me clarify. He’s probably under the illusion that misandry is an actual problem, instead of just some silly MRM trope.

  • Sindigo

    Why does this post not have more likes? Maybe because a lot of people don’t make it past the first paragraph. Well, I did and I couldn’t agree more.

  • Sindigo

    Whatever we do, we should not free Will. I’ve heard that he’s the reason that there’s evil in the world!

  • ReadsInTrees

    Heaven must be very crowded with billions of never-born children. I wonder if they have to spend eternity as an embryo or a fetus, or if they get to fast forward to whatever age they would be happiest at. Can you be happy with no memories of living? For that matter, when adults die, do they have to stay that age for eternity, or can they revert to their happiest age? What if a couple dies, and she was happiest at age twelve, and he was happiest at age 65…do they just go their separate ways in heaven or is there some celestial pedophilia going on? I’m so confused!!

  • ReadsInTrees

    Shhhhhh! Stop using logic!

  • baal

    Would that the christians didn’t fight against effective sex ed in high schools and supported high school condom hand outs. Would that christians didn’t push for cut backs to women’s health care (including Planned Parenthood). By doing both, christians are increasing the number of abortions (both from medical issues and from unwanted pregnancy).

  • baal

    “Testeria” is acceptable when “hysteria” due to a history of marginalization of women? Bullshit. If you want folks to not use sexist language, don’t do it your self. You appear to be mocking all men or all men with testicles. Whatever finer point you had is lost in your bashing of a gender.

  • Sergio Castro

    Perfectly stated.
    We were one of the minority who decided to abort a fetus due to severe genetic defects. We desperately wanted a child; had had two miscarriages and a stillbirth prior. But we didn’t want a child who would suffer her whole life and would not live long.
    We had to go to a clinic in another state, an 8 hour drive away. We had to be ushered in the back door by a security guard due to protests out front of the clinic. A woman who walked in the front door was called a murderer, she told us later.
    The situation was traumatic enough for it as it was. We were grieving yet another loss. The staff and doctors were absolutely amazing. Sympathetic, professional, competent. They helped get us through the two days of the procedure (D&E).
    We spoke to many women there and learned their reasons for ending a pregnancy. They all expressed sadness and regret. Many were there for economic reasons; several had been abandoned by their boyfriends upon hearing the news of pregnancy; and then there was us. Yes, we were a minority. But we all had one thing in common: If any of us could have travelled back in time to do whatever we had to do to make the abortion unnecessary, we would have done it.
    To force women to bear an unwanted pregnancy is torture. We should be more civilized than that by now.

  • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

    Or it could be that they read beyond the first paragraph and were going to like it… until they got to the first sentence of the last paragraph. I don’t find the exercise of bodily autonomy to be appalling.

  • Sindigo

    Good point. Maybe a better phrasing would be: “Yes, it is absolutely appalling that anyone should have to choose to abort a healthy fetus”

  • Patterrssonn

    I’m picturing a fog of tiny cellular clumps, sticking to your robes, getting caught in your hair.

  • Patterrssonn

    Did I gender bash? Oh I’m terribly sorry. I thought I was just making fun of those sad pathetic losers who whine about sexism against men. I didn’t realize they constituted a gender.

    That’s actually quite a relief in a way, it was getting awful embarrassing to be man with all the whiny testrionics flying around. How about, just for clarity’s sake, we identify this new gender as the ‘menz’?

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ wmdkitty

    Shorter Baal: “Waah! Waaah! I’m being treated the way I treat women!”

    Fuck off, male supremacist.

  • George

    Ken Ham’s “Answers in Genesis” website always helps me to gain a better understanding of Christian logic.


  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    Sergio, I’m so sorry for your loss. You summed up what I was was trying to say perfectly in those last two sentences. Thank you for your response.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    Enuma, that is exactly why it is so wrong to legislate morality. Your morals are different from mine. I personally believe that it is immoral to abort a healthy fetus for any reason, but I certainly understand your viewpoint and I can accept it. I will also readily admit that I can’t say when a “tiny mass of cells” becomes a “fetus”. I’m fine with things like the morning after pill that abort a tiny mass of cells, but clearly no one is fine with aborting a healthy 8-month-gestation fetus. The problem is we will all draw the line at different places. I will also readily admit that my views are biased by the fact that at this time in my life I could easily convince myself that an unintended pregnancy was just a “happy accident”. I don’t presume to speak for you or anyone else. Every abortion involves different situations and different moral beliefs and needs to be carefully considered by the woman, her loved ones and her doctor, religious fanatics and legislators should have no place in these kinds of very personal decisions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/karen.uncoolmom Cary Whitman

    Thank you for reading my long and rambling rant!

  • njew84

    I’m curious if anyone would like to share with me their view on abortion and why they think it is an acceptable process? Also if anyone is interested in my argument as to why I believe abortion is not acceptable in any circumstance. Provide me with an example or multiple examples what you would consider a sufficient reason to get an abortion and I will provide you with an opposing view. Thank you.

  • njew84

    I can’t imagine having to make a decision like that and I’m truly sorry for the misfortunes you’ve experienced. If I’m out of line please disregard my question. You said that your unborn child had severe genetic defects and had little or no chance at survival correct? My question to you is, if you knew that your child would be born and would live a somewhat full life but had to have care for their entire life would that have changed your decision? I am not trying to make you feel worse in your situation and I truly apologize if I have done so, I’m just 100% pro-life and honestly if I was faced with any situation that would require me to sacrifice my life for another, I wouldn’t even think about it not or a second regardless of the other persons chance at survival.

    Example. (I’m a male, happily married, father of two healthy beautiful children, just so you know where I stand). This is a situation that runs through my head time and time again… I’m at home with my wife an kids on say a Saturday night, kids are in bed and its around 11 at night, I hear a knock at the door. I go to the door with a strange feeling like something is wrong. I open the door and there is a man with a gun. Pointing the gun at my head he tells me to sit down while he rapes my wife. Here’s my decision, if I try to stop him he will likely kill me and most likely he will kill my wife and possibly my kids as well, or I could stop him and take his gun and the rest is history. No question I risk EVERYTHING! I hope I adequately expressed my view in a way you might understand.

    Again, if I have overstepped my bounds I apologize, I just hope if you are ever put in a similar situation you will think of a situation like this.

  • Sindigo

    No problem. You actually made me think about the subject in a couple of ways I hadn’t before. So thank you.

  • http://twitter.com/enuma enuma

    Just so you know, the morning after pill is not an abortifacient. It will not affect an existing pregnancy. It is a contraceptive, not a contragestive. Here’s how it works:

    At the beginning of the cycle, the pituitary releases Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), causing an egg to start to mature into a structure called a follicle. The follicle produces estrogen, which grows the uterine lining. Ovulation is triggered by a second pituitary hormone called Luteinizing Hormone (LH). After the egg is released, the follicle becomes a corpus luteum. The corpus luteum continues producing estrogen but also starts producing increasing amounts of progesterone. This helps maintain the uterine lining, but it’s also Nature’s Egg Timer. Once progesterone levels get high enough, the pituitary gland stops releasing LH. When LH levels drop, the corpus luteum shuts down. No more estrogen or progesterone are produced and the lining is shed. Rinse and repeat.

    The important thing to take away here is that LH triggers ovulation, and progesterone stops the release of LH. Plan B is a synthetic progesterone. If taken early enough, it will prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation.

    While implantation failure technically not an abortion since pregnancy occurs after implantation, some people call Plan B an abortifacient on the belief it prevents implantation of a fertilized egg. They think this warning appears on the label because the FDA has evidence that it prevents implantation. This isn’t true.

    The “may prevent implantation” warning on the Plan B label is basically the FDA covering its ass after someone suggested this was possible based on animal studies using much higher doses of synthetic progesterone than the dose in Plan B. All the subsequent studies have found no evidence that this actually happens in humans using Plan B, to the point that many health experts expect this warning to be removed from the label in the next few years. The warning is there for political reasons, not scientific ones. It’s actually possible that taking Plan B after you’re already pregnant could help maintain the pregnancy. Some fertility doctors prescribe progesterone to women who are trying to conceive but have a history of early miscarriage.

    Sorry for the long ass post, but I’m getting really sick of seeing this myth perpetuated.