NRL News

A Short, but Important History of Abortion in America

by | Jul 18, 2011

By Dave Andrusko

Carol Tobias, National Right to Life President

If you are not listening to “Pro-Life Perspective,” you are much the poorer for that. But either way, you must take advantage of this resource over the next two weeks.

This 5-minute Monday through Friday radio broadcast is both long enough to provide substantive information (or lift your spirits up with inspirational stories) but brief enough so that you can and will remember the high points of NRLC President Carol Tobias’s talks.

If you are not already hearing PLP on a local radio station, you can listen online at

Beginning today, she will examine the contemporary history of Abortion in America, beginning in 1959. Why 1959?

That was the year that a now largely forgotten but at the time hugely influential organization called The American Law Institute (ALI) proposed changes in the nation’s abortion laws which, to that point, were very protective. The model ALI legislation would have permitted abortion if the pregnancy impaired the physical or mental health of the woman, for fetal deformity, and in cases of rape and incest.

In today’s first episode Carol Tobias succinctly summarizes the early battles, beginning in Virginia and Connecticut. The struggles were especially difficult to defeat both because of ALI’s prestige and because the changes were packaged as mere “reforms”—almost tinkering with abortion laws—as opposed to a major initial inroad into state laws that went back in some cases one hundred years.

However thanks to the early work of state pro-life groups aided by the informational and organizational support of National Right to Life, at the end of 1972, 31 states still allowed abortion only to save the life of the mother. One month later, however, the Supreme Court gave the nation Roe v. Wade.

Be sure to go to and listen to Part One of a ten-part series on the modern history of abortion in America.

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Categories: NRLC