Roe v. Wade: How It Changed Abortion Access


(Graphic by Ella Sherry)

 Roe v. Wade was a monumental case in which seven of the nine judges legitimized the right to abortion due to the promise of privacy in the Constitution in 1973. The decision stood for nearly 50 years until it was overturned this past summer. 

“I think that this is what an older generation of feminists have always warned about: that this was a right that we should not take for granted, and that I think many generations have taken for granted,” gender studies teacher Christina Varela said. 

When the historic court case was overturned in June of 2022, many states sprang into action either to protect or ban abortions. 

The severity of the bans differ widely. Currently there are laws in place for everything from full bans to six to 24 week bans, which means abortions aren’t legal after the sixth to 24th week of pregnancy. 

As of October 6, 14 states have full bans and in 10 states abortions are—to a certain extent—still legal, according to the New York Times. 15 states protect abortion rights until the fetus is viable, which is typically after 24 weeks of pregnancy. California is among those. 

In many states, abortion bans are being blocked by judges. These states include Ohio, South Carolina, Wyoming, Iowa, North Dakota, Michigan and Montana. In Indiana, an almost total abortion ban was blocked on Thursday, Sept. 22, a week after it went into effect. 

But although some states are blocking these bans, the rate of abortion restriction laws in other states are moving quickly. 

In the span of one week, starting on Sept. 16 and ending on Sept. 23, two states had instated complete abortion bans: West Virginia and Arizona. 

“This issue is so big. [It] goes back to 1973, and even beyond,” Varela said. “People have been arguing about this for decades. And [for] people who are opposed to abortion this has been their goal since 1973: to overturn Roe v. Wade.” 

Reproductive rights are most likely going to be a major topic in future federal and state elections. 

“Upcoming elections will definitely be impacted,” senior Cate Fasoletti said. “The Supreme Court’s recent decision was a reminder to Americans that the individuals elected [into] office have the power and ability to change the structure of the country.” 

“[The overturning] sent shock waves into this country,” Varela said. “And how [it] affects the people who live in [the US] might even be a bigger question.”