Roe v. Wade and the March for Life: Key facts to know

Annual march sees anti-abortion crowd
Posted at 8:38 AM, Jan 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-27 15:51:23-05

The March for Life, an annual pro-life gathering to oppose Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, will be held Friday in Washington.

Below are key facts about the Roe v. Wade decision, and what to expect at Friday’s march, which is expected to attract thousands of participants:

What did Roe v. Wade decide?

Roe v. Wade, which was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973, ruled that state laws banning abortions, except to save the life of the mother, were unconstitutional.  More specifically, the case held that abortion fell within a woman’s constitutionally protected “zone of privacy.”

What would happen if Roe v. Wade were overturned?

Overturning Roe v. Wade would shift the abortion issue and debate back to the states. Some states could enact strict bans, others could continue to allow abortions. There inevitably would be variations from state to state.A recent report issued by the Center for Reproductive Rights titled “What If Roe fell?” found that abortion could become illegal in 33 states if Roe v. Wade were overturned.

How big is Friday’s March for Life likely to be?

The automatic question is whether the March for Life will match the estimated half million people who attended last Saturday’s Women’s March on Washington. The march on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade drew an estimated 650,000 participants.

One gauge of attendance is the number of bus parking permits issued in Washington, D.C.  Ninety-two permits had been issued for the March for Life as of Wednesday. The Washington, D.C., Department of Transportation issued 1,800 permits for the women’s march and 450 for President Trump’s inauguration.

What makes this year’s March for Life different?

Politically speaking, the Congress and the White House are controlled by Republicans, many of whom support anti-abortion measures. This includes cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood, and President Trump has promised to nominate a Supreme Court justice who would support overturning Roe v. Wade.  Also, one of Trump’s first executive orders prohibited U.S. funds from going to international organizations that support abortion.

The other thing that makes this year’s march different is that Vice President Mike Pence will address the march, making him the first sitting vice president to do so. Kellyanne Conway, senior White House adviser, also plans to address the crowd on Friday.

What are Americans’ views on abortions?

Here are four facts about Americans’ views on this issue, based on Pew Research Center polling:

  • 59 percent of U.S. adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 37 percent say it should be illegal all or most of the time.
  • There is a significant partisan divide: 88 percent of liberal Democrats say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 27 percent of self-described conservatives in the GOP say it should be legal.
  • 69 percent of Americans say Roe v. Wade should not be completely overturned.
  • 44 percent of Americans say having an abortion is morally wrong, 19 percent feel it is morally acceptable, and 34 percent say it is not a moral issue.