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Roe v. Wade: Americans Under 30 Are Uninformed About Landmark Abortion Ruling

01/17/2013 05:49 pm ET | Updated Jan 18, 2013

A majority of Americans under 30 are either unaware or unsure that the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade was about abortion rights, new data from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals.

About 60 percent of all Americans know what Roe v. Wade dealt with, the Pew survey found, but among people ages 18-29, just 44 percent knew. Thirty-three percent of those under 30 answered incorrectly -- believing it was either about segregation, the death penalty or the environment. Some 24 percent said they simply had no clue.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, older generations knew more about the case.

Roe v. Wade was a 1973 case in which the Supreme Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment covered a woman's right to chose to have an abortion, but the government has the ability to regulate abortion as it pertains to protecting prenatal life and protecting women's health.

Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 case that said the state cannot make it illegal to use birth control, set the stage for Roe. If the Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade, it could affect whether a state could make contraception illegal if the decision removed a right to privacy.

Prior to the Roe decision, women sometimes had to resort to dangerous alternatives such as "back alley abortions."

The survey may help explain why 62 percent thought abortion was "not that important," which was again significantly different than all other ages.

Though many millennials are unfamiliar with Roe v. Wade, 68 percent oppose overturning the high court decision. Americans who attended college or went on to graduate school opposed overturning the decision at a higher rate.

Overall, Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade by a 63-29 margin.

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