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41 years from total legalization of abortion in US. On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America. Prior to these …More
41 years from total legalization of abortion in US.

On January 22, 1973, the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, handed down two rulings legalizing abortion in America. Prior to these rulings abortion was prohibited in most of the 50 states. In the states where abortion was permitted, such as New York and California, various restrictions had been placed on the reasons for abortion. These restrictions were removed by the 1973 rulings.
The Court based its decisions on the "right to privacy," which it claimed was guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, but which it could not specifically find anywhere. The Court concluded that it was implied in either the Fourteenth Amendment or the "penumbra" of the Bill of Rights.
Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton
The principal decision, Roe v. Wade, repealed all state laws prohibiting abortion. The companion case, Doe v. Bolton, extended the right to abortion to the entire nine months of pregnancy. The Court divided the term of pregnancy into trimesters (not a medical term prior to that time), and ruled that there could be no restrictions on abortions performed during the first trimester, or first three months of pregnancy.
During the second trimester (months 4-6), the court allowed states to pass certain regulations regarding abortion, but only to insure a woman's safety. There could be no restrictions on a woman's right to choose abortion.
During the third trimester (the last 3 months of pregnancy), the court conceded that a state could impose restrictions on abortion if the state found it in its interest to protect the child; however, the woman could still have access to an abortion for health reasons. Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is "any condition that might impact her physical, emotional, psychological or financial well being". The court adopted this definition, effectively extending abortion on demand for the full nine months of pregnancy.
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