Roe v. Wade at 40: Six questions about the state of abortion rights today

On Tuesday, the United States marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic US Supreme Court decision that granted women the right to an abortion. Still, in many parts of the country it is far harder for a woman to obtain an abortion today than it was in 1973. Here is a look at the state of abortion rights in America.

Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News/AP
A flag that flew at a Washington D.C. antiabortion rally waves in the wind as thousands gathered for the Rally for Life outside the Earle Cabell Federal Courthouse, site of the landmark Roe v. Wade lawsuit filing over 40 years ago, in downtown Dallas, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013.

1. How easy is it for a woman in 2013 to get an abortion?

Rich Clabaugh/Staff

This varies drastically, depending upon where she lives, what kind of insurance she has, and how much money she has.

A woman in, say, a metropolitan part of California – where providers are fairly numerous and a fair amount of local public funding will help to pay for the procedure – may have pretty easy access. A poor woman in Washington, D.C., where public funding of abortion is prohibited, may have a hard time paying for it. And for a poor or middle-class woman in South Dakota, where just one clinic operates (on a part-time basis) and anyone seeking an abortion must navigate a labyrinth of counseling and delay restrictions, it may prove virtually impossible.

When it comes to reproductive rights, “there’s very much a class divide,” says Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, an abortion-rights research organization. “Women who have money and resources and are used to the health-care system will be able to access abortion.... Women who are poor – these restrictions make it more difficult for them.”

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