What If Roe Fell - 2007

Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision recognizing a woman's right to abortion, remains under constant attack. Since the Center for Reproductive Rights first released its What If Roe Fell? report in 2004, the Supreme Court has become decidedly more conservative and less sympathetic to Roe, a fact that has emboldened anti-choice forces. The Center's report, "What if Roe Fell?", exposes anti-choice activists' latest strategies to criminalize abortion at every stage of a woman's pregnancy.

In 2004, the Center found that 30 states were poised to criminalize abortion soon after a Roe reversal. Many have pre-Roe abortion bans on the books that could be revived, some in just a matter of weeks. Over the past three years, a new strategy has emerged: bans-in-waiting, spring-loaded to criminalize abortion the instant Roe is overturned, and immediate bans that criminalize abortion as soon as they're signed into law. Immediate bans are intended to force the Supreme Court to reexamine Roe, a troubling prospect given the Court's decision just this year in Gonzales v. Carhart. Since 2004, an unprecedented number of both types of bans have been introduced -- 38 bans have been introduced in 17 states. Four bans-in-waiting have passed: in Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Poll: Majority of Americans Favor Federal Law to Protect Abortion Rights

In research conducted for the Center by Lake Research Associates, Americans say they want abortion to remain a federally protected right. Their support for Roe is clear. And they recognize that Roe is threatened.

What they don't seem to know is what would happen if the decision were overturned, how vulnerable many of them would be to losing their right to legal abortion, depending on what state they live in.

The poll found that:

  • Americans believe that Roe v. Wade is vulnerable under the current Supreme Court, but at the same time are largely unaware of legislative efforts underway at the state level to further undermine Roe.
  • The majority of Americans doesn't know what abortion laws exist in their state and tend to believe their state is supportive of abortion rights.
  • Seven in 10 Americans agree that government should not interfere with medically necessary procedures prescribed by health care professionals, including abortions.
  • The majority of voters favors their state making changes in the law to further protect a woman's right to abortion.