As a collective unit, Americans are pretty keen on the civics-class idea that life in the 6,106,012 square miles of God’s green earth that is the USA is more or less equitable for the 313,847,465 people who have hunkered down to live on the craggy coasts, fruited plains, and purple mountains filled with majesty. We’ve got proportional representation in Congress, a legal system that presumes innocence before guilt, and the ability to walk into any 7-Eleven to get a Slurpee and slice of pizza that will cost you $4 and a year of your life, which has to say something about the level playing field we’ve got going, right?
But as we mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the truth is that access to abortion isn’t anywhere close to equitable for women around the country. In fact, things are worse in certain parts of the U.S. than they were in the 1970s and 1980s. In nearly every state, the total number of abortion providers has dropped since 1978—even in traditionally liberal havens like California, which as of 2008 had 522 abortion providers, down from its peak of 608 in 1988. Still, California law has been consistent in its support for women attempting to get an abortion; the Guttmacher Institute, which tracks access to the procedure, counts states as “supportive” if they haven’t enacted more than one restrictive measure for women seeking termination, such as waiting periods, mandated counseling, or parental notification in the case of a minor. New York, Washington, Oregon, and most New England states have also been rated as consistently supportive of abortion rights over the last decade.