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Abortion

In Brief

Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the United States in 1973, but the issue is still one of heated debate. While advocates send strong right-to-life and right-to-choose messages, many Americans fall somewhere in the middle, supporting a woman's right to an abortion under some circumstances. The controversy waged in September 2000, when the FDA approved Mifepristone, better known as the RU-486 abortion pill. In hopes of decreasing the abortion rate, the FDA approved the Plan B emergency contraceptive, or "morning after" pill, for over-the-counter sales in August 2006.

In April 2007, the United States Supreme Court upheld the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 with a 5-4 ruling, which was considered a major victory for right-to-life advocates. The act prohibits a type of late-term abortion. To read more on the case, click here. Some states have also attempted to overturn the Roe V. Wade ruling. In March 2006, South Dakota's Republican governor Mike Rounds signed a piece of legislation outlawing abortion. While the referendum was overturned by citizens, state officials are still trying to pass such right-to-life laws.

As for a recent right-to-choose triumph, New Hampshire - in June 2007 - became the first of 35 states to repeal the parental notification law in which minors must notify parents before receiving an abortion.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an institute of the federal government that collects data on a voluntary basis from individual states, reported about 820,151 legal abortions in 2005 in 49 covered areas. This is a decrease from the approximate 839,226 in 2004.

The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a research branch of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, reports roughly 1.21 million legal abortions in 2005, compared with 1.31 million in 2001. To read more about abortion trends from the past 30 years, go here.




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