The 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v Wade has been marked by gains and setbacks for activists on both sides of the abortion debate.
A new NBC / Wall Street Journal poll finds that for the first time, a majority–54%–of Americans believe abortion should be legal all or most of the time, and seven in 10 Americans believe the ruling should not be overturned.
But while the 2012 campaign rhetoric with its focus on “legitimate rape” and “transvaginal ultrasounds” appears to have galvanized support for abortion rights at the national level, pro-life activists are winning key battles in the states. According to statistics provided by the Guttmacher Institute, GOP lawmakers across the country enacted a record 92 bills restricting abortion in state capitols across the country in 2011 and 43 in 2012.
At the same time, TIME reports the number of abortion clinics nationwide has dropped from 2,908 in 1982 to 1,793 in 2008. Four states–Arkansas, North Dakota, South Dakota and Mississippi–now have only one abortion clinic in the entire state.
“Politicians are vastly out of step with the American people,” said Cecile B. Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. “I think we saw that in the November election in which a candidate–Mitt Romney–ran on overturning Roe and getting rid of Planned Parenthood and was defeated by the largest gender gap ever in our history.”
Pro-life activists are attempting to dismantle Roe’s foundations at the state level by imposing requirements on clinics that, by design, are virtually impossible to comply with.
Case in point : Mississippi, where the state’s sole clinic is in danger of being shut down by the state’s health authority due to its inability to recruit doctors with admitting privileges at local area hospitals.
“They have passed bills that they know are going to be impossible for us to meet and then use that to legislate us out of business,” Diane Derzis, the owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization (JWHO) told NOW with Alex Wagner Tuesday. All seven local hospitals have refused to grant Derzis’ request. Derzis also said there had been relatively little outcry in Mississippi because many women don’t speak up in favor of women’s rights until they themselves have need of the services she provides.
Earlier this month, Mississippi’s Republican Governor Phil Bryant admitted he’d love to see his state free of all abortion clinics.
“My goal, of course, is to shut it down,” he said. “If I had the power to do so legally, I’d do so tomorrow.
Read more: How technology can protect a woman’s access to abortion.