Forty-one years ago today, Roe v. Wade expanded abortion rights in the U.S. with one sweeping, landmark Supreme Court decision. It was a monumental change—abortion was illegal in the majority of states in 1973—and its announcement on the evening news was delivered with the tone of importance now lavished on everything from bridge scandals to snow updates. “In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court today legalized abortions,” Walter Cronkite reported at the start of the CBS Evening News, the sound of typewriters clacking in the background. “A majority, in cases from Texas to Georgia, said that the decision to end a pregnancy during the first three months belongs to a woman and her doctor, not the government. Thus, the anti-abortion laws of 46 states were rendered unconstitutional.” And though the decision still stands today, a whole lot has changed since that historic day, with abortion opponents successfully chipping away at access, resulting in fewer abortion providers and clinics in the country than there were 41 years ago. It’s something to ponder on this anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which, noted correspondent George Herman on the same evening news report, made abortion “largely a private matter.” Which can sound like a pretty foreign concept today.
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