Roe v. Wade is considered a watershed moment by many feminists because the decision affirmed a pregnant woman's right to privacy, explains U.S. History. This affirmation is also the basis of laws that allow and regulate abortion in the United States.
The first feminist movements date back to the 19th century, notes Wikipedia. They primarily fought for the right of women to vote. Feminist movements in the twentieth century focused on fighting social and cultural inequalities. This focus formed the backdrop for Roe v. Wade.
In the '60s, there was no overarching law governing abortions in the United States, explains U.S. History. The practice was banned in many states and only allowed where the mother's life was in danger. Feminist movements argued that such severe restrictions encouraged women to seek illegal and potentially harmful alternatives.
In time, states such as New York and California legalized abortions, notes U.S. History. With the federal government failing to declare a stand on abortion, feminist groups began to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court. That opinion came as a result of a legal challenge against Texas' abortion laws by Norma McCorvey, who used the pseudonym Jane Roe.
The challenge eventually worked its way to the Supreme Court, explains U.S. History. On Jan. 22, 1973, the Supreme Court struck down Texas' abortion law by a 7-to-2 vote. The Court also made it illegal for any state to prevent abortion in the first three months of pregnancy. However, states are allowed to make laws restricting abortion in the second and third trimesters.