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Policy Development

Roe vs. Wade Anniversary Stimulates Resources for Policy Development
By Victoria Tepe and Nancy Felipe Russo

January 22 was the 29th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision that made some abortions legal. In response, several groups have issued reports that are useful resources for educating policy makers and the public about the legal history of abortion in the U.S.

*The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy has launched a special report on the legal history of the Roe decision, its future, the key Supreme Court decisions affecting Roe and an interactive quiz" on the case on its Web site (www.crlp.org).

*PPFA has launched a website devoted to Roe (www.saveROE.com); the site offers visitors an opportunity to learn the history of the case and contact their elected representatives to voice support for abortion rights.

*The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) and Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health offer a "graphic overview" of abortion in the U.S. (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/ab_slides.phpl).

*AGI also provides materials to enable people to create their own charts using abortion-related data at http://www.guttmacher.org/tablemaker/.

Advocacy activities, pro and con, around the issue include:

*A coalition of 25 reproductive rights advocacy groups published a full-page ad supporting the Roe decision in Newsweek and Roll Call (Capitol Hill's daily paper).

*Dr. George Tiller (Wichita, KS) offered free abortion care to commemorate the anniversary.

*Attendance estimates of the annual March for Life varied widely. The Washington Post estimated that approximately 100,000 anti-abortion followers descended on Washington, DC, to attend the march. In contrast, UPI described the march as 'the smallest' of the event's history. The Capitol Police first put the crowd at between 5000 and 8000. Later in the day, their estimate grew to 15,000. Over the past decade, police estimates have been around 35,000.

*President Bush issued a written proclamation designating the preceding Sunday as 'National Sanctity of Life Day', and said that 'unborn children should be welcomed in life and protected in the law'.

Upcoming U.S. elections opportunity to inform public policies

This is a time in the U.S. when elected representatives are considering a variety of activities related to reproductive issues. Because all 435 House members and 34 senators are up for re-election this November the results of this November's election could overturn either or both majorities. Senate races are especially important, because the Senate must confirm all Supreme Court nominees. Thus, 2002 election campaigns will offer a host of opportunities for providing information on the impact of public policy alternatives that might become campaign issues.

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