Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion. And while the majority of Americans under age 30 support a woman's right to choose, new research from the Pew Forum finds that most of them don't know that Roe v. Wade was the landmark case that that a protects that right.
Abortion opponents rally at the steps of the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin …
Related: What if Abortion Wasn't Legal?
"For 40 years, access to safe and legal abortion has been the law of the land," said Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards in a statement. "As the nation's leading women's health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood understands that abortion is a deeply personal and often complex decision for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it."
According to the Pew Religion and Public Life poll, 68 percent of men and women under age 30 do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned, yet only 44 percent of that age group could correctly say what the case was about. Forty-one percent of respondents younger than 30 thought it had to do with the death penalty, the environment, or something other than abortion.
So, do young Americans favor protecting reproductive rights for women simply because they've never known a time when abortion wasn't safe and legal? Or is the lack of understanding why, in 2012, 19 states were able to pass in 43 laws restricting access to abortion?
The anniversary was marked by prayers and marches in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Members of the Christian Defense Coalition placed flowers on the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court, in order to represent the number of abortions they calculate take place each day in the United States. The National Pro-Life Religious Council and the U.S. Catholic bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities have also scheduled prayer services. On Friday, the conservative Family Research Council is hosting it's really ProLifeCon, and former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum will speak at a March for Life rally near Capitol Hill.
"The March for Life is an important opportunity for us to send a message to our elected officials that they must support policies that foster a culture of life," Santorum said in a statement.
On Tuesday, the White House reaffirmed the administration's support of women's reproductive rights.
"On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we reaffirm its historic commitment to protect the health and reproductive freedom of women across this country and stand by its guiding principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters, and women should be able to make their own choices about their bodies and their health care," President Barack Obama said in a statement sent to Yahoo! Shine. "On this anniversary, we recommit ourselves to supporting women and families in the choices they make and redouble our efforts to promote safe and healthy communities."
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