The 44th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade was marked Sunday with a new U.S. president in office who has said he wants the decision overturned. The 1973 decision legalized abortion.
As a candidate, President Donald Trump promised to appoint an anti-abortion justice to fill a vacancy at the nation’s highest court.
He also said he wants to remove government funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of women’s health care, including abortions.
Supreme Court nominee
Trump met earlier this week with one of the judges on his short list for potential Supreme Court nominees and has said he wants fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia within his first two weeks in office.
The new president has promised to seek someone with similar views to the late conservative justice and said he is working from a list of 21 people, mainly conservative state and federal judges.
Trump’s positions against abortion are supported by many Republican lawmakers, which control both houses of Congress. Many of those Republicans ran on a platform of opposing abortion.
Abortion continues to be a dividing issue in the United States where it has been legal since the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. Rival demonstrations in Washington often mark the anniversary of the ruling.
A new survey published this month by the Pew Research Center said more than two-thirds of Americans believe Roe v Wade should not be completely overturned.
“Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago,” the group said.
It noted that the partisan gap over abortion views is strong with 79 percent of Democrats saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 34 percent of Republicans saying the same.
On Thursday, the Century Foundation, a progressive U.S.-based research group, said restrictions against abortions are increasing across the United States. The group said 50 abortion restrictions were passed last year in 18 of the 50 U.S. states.
The anti-abortion group, National Right to Life, maintains an effort to pass restrictive state laws.
“The place you change America isn’t in Washington. It’s in the states,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, quoted on the organization’s website.
Also this week, another research group, the Guttmacher Institute, which supports abortion rights, released a survey that found the annual number of abortions in the United States has dropped to less than 1 million, the lowest level since 1974. The report counted 926,200 abortions in 2014, the latest year for which it had complete data, a drop of 12.5 percent from Guttmacher’s previous survey, which tallied 1.06 million abortions in 2011.
Following Roe v Wade in 1973, the number of abortions in the United States rose steadily, reaching a peak of 1.6 million in 1990, before starting to decline.
The authors of the new report attributed the latest decline to two main factors: the increased availability of contraceptives, which have led to less unintended pregnancies, and the increase in abortion restrictions in some U.S. states.
“Abortion restrictions and clinic closures mean that patients may need to travel greater distances to access services,” says Rachel Jones, lead author of the study.
Next week, the anti-abortion movement March for Life holds its annual rally in Washington. Trump’s campaign manager and one of his top advisors, Kellyanne Conway, is scheduled to speak at the march.