(WOMENSENEWS)–1973. American women receive the limited right to legal abortion as the U.S. Supreme Court decides Roe v. Wade. The decision, with Justice Harry Blackmun writing for the court, was the culmination of 50 years of legal actions in which the court laid the foundations for privacy rights in profoundly personal decisions, such as birth control.

Before Roe, abortion except to save the woman’s life, was banned in almost two-thirds of the states and the other states allowed only a few other exceptions. Estimates of illegal abortions were 1.2 million a year, despite often-unsafe conditions without any medical supervision.

The right to abortion, based on the right to privacy, has been eroded since Roe v. Wade by both judicial and legislative actions. Intimidation and violence against clinics and providers threaten the right to freely choose abortion.

For more information:

The Center for Reproductive Law and Policy:

National Abortion Rights Action League: