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Abortion policy—the conditions under which women can legally terminate pregnancy—has generated one of the most contentious and long-standing debates of contemporary U.S. politics. In Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), the U.S. Supreme Court declared that a woman's right to privacy was broad enough to encompass the decision to terminate her pregnancy. Rather than resolving the conflict, however, Roe created a firestorm permeating policymaking and political institutions at all levels. Abortion policy became the focal point of a pitched battle over the status of women and values in the late twentieth century; as these policy differences became organized into politics, they converged with the rise of the Christian Right and a constellation of related interest groups, rebirth of the Republican Party, and polarization of party politics. Roe legalized abortion, but the issue's politicization created policies that limited accessibility to the procedure, especially for women of limited means.
2010 House passes Senate's health-care bill without changes after anti-abortion lawmakers are promised an executive order to tighten anti-abortion provisions (March 23); Obama issues executive order next day.
2009 Obama takes modest pro-choice steps in first months in office; makes health-care overhaul major domestic priority.
2008 Democrat Barack Obama elected president; took pro-choice positions in campaign; Democrats gain House, Senate seats, but both chambers are closely divided between pro-choice and pro-life blocs.