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Roe v. Wade Moves Into its Fifth Decade

PHOTO: A campaign by Planned Parenthood called "Not in Her Shoes" has people take a photo of their shoes and explain why reproductive health choices should be an individual decision. CREDIT: John Michaelson
PHOTO: A campaign by Planned Parenthood called "Not in Her Shoes" has people take a photo of their shoes and explain why reproductive health choices should be an individual decision. CREDIT: John Michaelson
January 28, 2013

MADISON, Wis. - Last week marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that affirmed a woman's right to have an abortion.

Back in the '70s, the number of births to teen parents in Wisconsin was more than 9,000 per year. As of 2010, the number had dropped to just over 5,000. Abortion is still a hot-button issue, but studies show it is not as divisive as it once was.

Jessica Dauphin of Planned Parenthood says it's time to remove the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life," because the decision is deeply personal.

"Look at everyone as just an individual," she suggests. "Say 'Man, I cannot make decisions for you, and I wouldn't want someone else - like politicians - making decisions for me.' Let's give everyone the legality and right to make decisions for themselves and be respectful in that."

As part of the shift away from labels, Planned Parenthood has launched a campaign called "Not in Her Shoes." Dauphin says the effort has people posting pictures of their shoes and talking about why reproductive health decisions need to be personal.

"For those who don't face that decision," she explains, "it might be hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes, so let's just not. Let's just acknowledge the fact that we walk on our own journey, in our own lives, and let's not take away rights for others."

After compiling the views of 1,500 voters across the nation, Alan Cooperman with the Pew Institute says the findings show just how complex the issue of abortion is. "A substantial portion of the U.S. public - 20 percent - think abortion is morally wrong," he reports, "but they do not think that Roe v. Wade should be overturned."

Of the people under age 30 who were surveyed, just 44 percent know that Roe v. Wade is a case about abortion, he adds. Some thought it was about school desegregation, the death penalty or the environment.

The new poll by the Pew Research Center says only 29 percent of Americans want Roe v. Wade completely overturned.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI