The U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photo taken in February 2009 by Jessica Puchala, WZZM 13.
GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, arguably one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in our nation's history.
On January 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court, in a 7-2 decision, ruled that abortion was a fundamental right under the constitution. It sparked what has become the nation's very passionate pro-life and pro-choice movements.
Over the years the ruling has been challenged in many ways and the conversation has centered on issues like women's health and when does life begin.
WZZM 13 talked to the Patty Korte, President of Grand Rapids Right to Life and Julie McKeiver, a representative of Planned Parenthood, to look at where the debate stands four decades after the landmark decision.
Do you think that women are better off today?
Most definitely," said McKeiver. "Since then (1973) it has opened a world of doors for women in so many other ways. It guaranteed a woman's right to make personal and private decisions about her health. And not only in terms of a woman's health but when they have a right to decide whether and when to have a child all kind of doors open economically, politically, socially and more. So we have seen those improvements over that span of years."
When asked if she thinks women are better off today, Korte said, "With Roe vs. Wade, no I don't. Especially unborn women. They have lost their rights. We have lost some very, very talented women because they have been aborted and we don't know what they could have been doing in their careers and so on. I think we have lost that respect for life that we had and I think we see it in our crime rate and our society and the uprising of child abuse.
Where do you think the abortion issue goes from here?
McKeiver says, "After 40 years of Roe vs. Wade we do know that the majority of Americans are on our side. In fact, two-thirds of Americans do support Roe vs. Wade and also two-thirds of voters under the age 30 support access to safe, legal abortion in all or most cases. What we hope to do moving into the future is continue to have that access for generations to come but also to instill in them the understanding that if we do not fight for this right it is something that we could indeed lose." McKeiver continues, "We also want to work over the next 10, 20 and 40 years to increase access to prevention reducing the need for abortion in the first place."
Korte says, "Legislatively we definitely talk to our legislators. We will try to promote pro-life candidates both Democrat and Republican. We try to get information to them, women and men that are in Lansing and Washington D.C. and we really work for those candidates," Korte continues, "People say you are too political. Well our voices have to be heard somehow and I think the vote is where people need to show what they are thinking and they are feeling."
The Diocese of Grand Rapids will acknowledge the 40th anniversary by holding a special mass "celebrating and giving thanks for the gift of human life in all its forms." It is scheduled for Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. at Cathedral of St. Andrew located at 301 Sheldon SE Grand Rapids.