True or False: The Roe IQ “Test” is True or False?

If you haven't stumbled upon the "Roe IQ: Do you really know Roe?" quiz yet you may want a quick reality check first. Clearly this test was crafted to conveniently omit the facts and nuanced concepts that make up the Supreme Court decision that, as Amanda puts it this week, finally told women we "own it."

To mark the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic 1973 decision that legalized abortion federally, overturning any and all state laws that had previously banned or criminalized abortion, a quiz of (at first glance) unknown origin popped up on the internet last month. This "quiz" poses a series of questions about the decision that shed no more light on what Roe v. Wade does and does not allow for than President Bush talking to a room full of reporters about the reasons for invading Iraq.

The first question asks, "Which most accurately describes when a woman may have an abortion under Roe?"

– Anytime during the first three months (first trimester) of her pregnancy

– Anytime during the first six months (second trimester) of her pregnancy

– Anytime during her entire pregnancy

– Anytime during the first three months, but can have an abortion later if the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest

What would your answer be?

According to the writers of the quiz the answer is "3" -anytime during pregnancy. But let's move on to the next question before addressing why that answer is so incomplete as to render it essentially false.

The second question:

"Which best describes the limitations Roe places on why a woman may have an abortion?"

– No limitations

– Only in case of rape, incest, or when the woman's life is in danger

– No limitations during the first three months of pregnancy, but only medically necessary abortions after that

The choices here again raise the red flag that this is a test created by those who neither understand or agree with Roe v. Wade. I would actually go further than that. The answers here reflect an astounding, not to mention hypocritical, sense of the holier-than-thou perspective that some women should be allowed to have an abortion while others should not; an anti-choice position that I have never understood. If you believe that abortion is murder, there should never be a situation under which murder is justifiable ("Only in case of rape, incest or when the woman's life is in danger").

When you complete the quiz you find out that, according to those who crafted the test, "no limitations" is the best answer here. That answer, however, is false.

In fact, none of these answers accurately describes Roe's "limitations." Roe v. Wade provides parameters for when a woman is allowed to have an abortion based on a variety of factors including viability of the fetus (generally acknowledged to be around 27 weeks but sometimes earlier) and threats to the health and/or life of the woman.

Again, the question is utterly pointless in its insistence on throwing out the basic tenets of Roe v. Wade in favor of absurd generalizations. But, then again, anti-choice advocates would not have a leg to stand on if they simply admitted why they so rabidly support overturning Roe v. Wade – to punish women for the original sin of being sexual beings. The quiz practically reveals itself in this question though:

Which of our nation's founding documents contains the phrase "right to an abortion"?

– Declaration of Independence

– U.S. Constitution

– Bill of Rights

– None of the Above

– All of the Above

Of course, none of the documents above mention abortion. The documents don't mention interracial marriage, desegregation, or contraceptive access for unmarried women either – but most of us will agree that the amendments that addressed these issues are necessary to an equitable and healthy society. Our "Founding Fathers" allowed for the reasoning that there would be amendments to the Constitution based on a changing and growing citizenry – something in which many social conservatives, and in particular those who are staunchly anti-choice, do not believe. There is a clear sense from those who identify as strong social conservatives that, while our nation was founded by white males, so shall the Constitution (and most of our governmental programs) cover.

Roe v. Wade, in fact, was partially decided based on the idea of "Due Process" under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. Due Process "is the principle that the government must respect all of a person's legal rights instead of just some or most of those legal rights when the government deprives a person of life, liberty, or property." The state laws that denied women the right to an abortion were considered in violation of a woman's right to due process under the law.

But Roe v. Wade was also decided based on the right to privacy which, while not explicitly stated in the Constitution, has been deemed a basic human right by the Supreme Court in various decisions including Griswold v. Connecticut and Loving v. Virginia – not to mention the fourth amendment which relates to unreasonable search and seizure and your right to be "safe and secure in your person."

Finally, back to the first question ("Which most accurately describes when a woman may have an abortion under Roe?") which tells more in it what it leaves out than in what it cherry-picks to leave in. Let's be clear here – Roe v. Wade states that a woman has the right to an abortion at anytime before the fetus reaches "viability" – defined generally as "the ability of fetuses to survive in the extrauterine environment." After viability, Roe v. Wade allows for legal abortion only in cases where the woman's health or life may be in danger as determined by a physician. The Well-Timed Period has an excellent post on viability that puts this all in perspective.

And while I'm loathe to mention it one more time, 87% of women who have abortions do so within the first trimester – completely throwing out the utterly false idea that millions of women and their doctors are aborting fetuses at all stages of pregnancy for fun and profit.

Why write about this absurd quiz at all? Its purpose in being is to confuse and deceive by omission about a crucial Supreme Court decision made all the more urgent in this election year. Cara, blogger for The Curvature, a feminist blog, was "taken in" under the guise of truly wanting to know more about Roe v. Wade and its impact on women – until a commenter turned her onto the truth:

"Just curious – did you know the test is co-sponsored by ultra-conservative groups Focus on the Family, Concerned Women for America, and the Alliance Defense Fund? …"

And that is the truth.

If these proudly anti-choice organizationsall of whom lobby strongly for the destruction of Roe v. Wade – didn't want to muddle and diffuse the real intent behind this quiz, why not be upfront about the reasons behind the quiz? Instead, the site gives us 100% false rhetoric about its intention:

"We can expect both sides in the abortion debate to ratchet up arguments in the coming months as we mark this anniversary. It is imperative that we, as citizens, understand the facts about what Roe does and does not do. "

Roe IQ – Do you really know Roe? is nothing more than a wolf in sheep's clothing. If you want to know more about the landmark decision and its impact on womens' lives, and more importantly, how we can mitigate some of the issues that Roe does not address, read our series this week, listen to our exclusive interview with Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America and check out the extensive list of bloggers blogging for choice this Roe v .Wade Day.

Related Posts:

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

For more information or to schedule an interview with contact

  • amanda-marcotte

    I've heard about this test, but I thought it would be less simple-minded. Whoever wrote it seems to be aiming very low, especially with the last question, which seems like it would only be convincing to those under the age of 7.

  • invalid-0

    Ha — indeed I was taken in. Still hanging my head in shame over that one. I do, however, still have to attribute my gullibility to my extremely adamant pro-choice views. For example, the question “Which best describes the limitations Roe places on why a woman may have an abortion?” My mind read those answers and thought “no, Roe didn’t say only for rape, incest and health, and it didn’t say only for health after the first trimester — that’s why all of these state restrictions are so bogus.” But maybe that just shows my sense of nuance when I’m rushing around first thing in the morning. :)

  • invalid-0

    Ms. Newman, to quote from an idiotic movie, “what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

    I don’t represent any particular group. I’m just a young man who’s been observing the pro-life/pro-choice debate. Privacy and rights to liberty are secondary to the main issue of the right to life! Now I am all for the rights of women, but not at the expense of killing babies in the process for the sake of maintaining “power”, “privacy”, and “liberty”. The power is already yours to control, and the pro-choice movement makes the wrong “choice” with that power by electing the destructive act of abortion 9.5 times out of 10. It would be for more noble and virtuous of women everywhere to make decisions that are in line with love, sacrifice, and constructive processes.

    Have a nice day.


  • invalid-0

    Cara, I don’t think you have anything AT ALL to feel shameful about :)! The test was constructed, as I said, in a deceitful way so as to appear completely neutral. Honestly, I didn’t realize what its true intent was until I got to the question that asked about “how often I went to church” – as if this has ANY bearing on reproductive rights issues?!

    Thank you for posting about the test and for being so honest and forthright! I really appreciate your post on The Curvature and your comment.

  • invalid-0

    labels are all important. Look at just one of the labels Jake uses: babies, instead of fetus. I always use fetus, embryo, or the all-purpose “zef” (meaning zygote, embryo, fetus). And I have been accused of trying “dehumanize” or “deny the humanity” of the “unborn child” (or “baby”). Simply for using medical, instead of emotive terms.

    Likewise, I have been told off for arguing with an ally because I opppose the use of “anti choicer” in favor of the gentler “pro life”. I prefer to use the latter word because pragmatic pro lifers I have encountered in chat rooms and on discussion boards tell me they prefer that term. Why? Because the pro life movement is not a monolith (although it looks that way from the outside), and strange as it may seem, there are some pro lifers who are all for birth control and comphrehensive sex ed.

    They KNOW abortion will never be completely erased, and they KNOW partial or (especially) total abortion bans are unrealistic and unenforceable. These pro lifers tell me “anti choicer” just ratchets up the hostility level and erodes any common ground they have with pro choicers. The anti choice label better describes dogmatic pro lifers (and most national RTL groups) who lobby for outright bans on abortion, and birth conrol for any reason.

    And that is the power of labels.

  • harry834

    We got to reach these pro-life/pro-sex ed/pro-birth control people and tell them about what their favorite groups are doing. We got to tell them not to donate, however that approach may work.

    In short we got to recruit these pro-lifers to support prevention strategies, and stop donating to the groups that claim to speak for them.

    Everyday, it's a challenge. Aye yaaa………

    :/ lol 

  • invalid-0

    Because pragmatic pro lifers stay “in the closet” most of the time. Otherwise, they risk censure from their more dogmatic (generally anti (recreational)sex, anti bc, anti comphrehensive sex ed, pro punishment, pro government control) bretheren.

  • harry834

    Designed for men, but anyone can read

    In hope of better world,

  • invalid-0

    I’ll put your URL on my Daily Kos blogroll so everyone who clicks on my diaries can see it.

  • harry834

    I should check out your Daily Kos diary. Same name, "ruthless" on that site?

  • invalid-0

    Pan Zareta there. But I haven’t written a new diary for at least a month. Most of my writing is fanfiction and winds up on other sites. Abortion isn’t covered quite so much on DKos because people tend to get really riled up (as if the various candidate diaries don’t get tempers flaring). But if you do a search on the term “abortion”, it will kick up some excellent recent work by other members.

  • harry834

    Have a wonderful day

  • invalid-0


    We’ll put you up on our blogroll as well! Thanks for the site URL – you are an extremely valued part of our community (as is ruthless!!). Thanks for your advocacy and thoughtful ideas.


  • harry834

    I feel big now :)

  • harry834

    My blog is on the list? I couldn't find it.

  • invalid-0

    Our new media associate, Brady, will put up as soon as he can – but I promise it will be up soon :). Thanks!

  • harry834

    I'll be waiting with twinkles in my eyes :)

  • brady-swenson

    Hey Harry,

    Your blog is listed as Harry Fourth Universe on the blogroll. Let me know if you like it listed under a different title. Thanks for your addition to our budding community!


  • harry834

    I'd like to try:

    "Harry834's Blog"

    And thank you for putting me on your list!!!