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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Roe v. Wade was an important Supreme Court case decided in 1973 that allowed women across the United States the right to an abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy. At that time, many states restricted abortion rights. The court based its decision on the right of privacy, given under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. The justices felt that a woman's right to privacy was more compelling than the right of states to regulate that right during the first and second trimester of pregnancy. Around the third trimester of pregnancy, which the court determined to be the point of viability (or when the fetus could survive on its own), the court determined that the states can regulate or restrict a woman's rights to an abortion, with exceptions to protect the life or health of the mother. 

This case has been contentious since the Supreme Court passed down its decision in 1973. Supporters believe a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion is a fundamental right, protected by the Constitution, and they believe a woman has a right to privacy. Opponents believe that the decision does not reflect a constitutional right and assert that the unborn fetus has a right to life.