It was 40 years ago this date that the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in Roe vs. Wade.

The 7-2 decision on a case out of Texas rendered on Jan. 22, 1973, established a right to privacy that extended to the question of whether a pregnant woman could have an abortion. It made abortion rights a political issue that endures to this day.

It’s at the state level that the pro-life side aims for restrictions such as parental consent, waiting periods and ultrasounds, says James Simeone, political science chairman at Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

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“To some extent, the Supreme Court has put it into the hands of the states to deal with the minutiae of administering the balance between the rights of the woman seeking abortion, and the fetus, or in lieu of someone speaking for the fetus, perhaps the parents or even the state,” he said.

Abortion is a campaign test for politicians at all levels, because they can’t sidestep the issue. Simeone says it’s good that there is so much effort an expense expended on both sides of the issue, because in a democracy, we need citizens who are engaged and informed.


(Copyright WBGZ Radio/