General Information / History / Stats / Types

A Timeline: Abortion-On-Demand in the USA

KEY ROLE OF LIFE-AFFIRMING STATE LAWS IN THE SUBSTANTIAL DECLINE OF  ABORTION NUMBERS DURING THE 1990s  [research by Harvard-MIT Data Center post-doctoral fellow M. J. New, publ. by the Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org)] http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/CDA04-01.cfm

1859. The American Medical Association condemns abortion.

1860s Said to be the beginning of a social and political birth control movement.

1873. Comstock law is passed (a federal law agianst the manufacture, sale, or possession of contraceptives in the District of Columbia and federal territories; also forbade the mailing of contraceptives or advertisements for them).

1875. Every state in the U.S. has adopted laws banning abortion.

1917. Margaret Sanger forms the Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) to promote contraception and abortion, and begins a push for the church to accept contraception.

1920. Lambeth Conference at which Anglican Church leaders acknowledged the contraception debate but responded, “We utter an emphatic warning against the use of unnatural means for the avoidance of conception.”

1930. Lambeth Conference at which the acceptance of birth control makes its way into the church. A major victory for Sanger and her cohorts.

1950s Alfred Kinsey’s fraudulent sex reports help define children as sexual from birth.

Push to change state laws which would eventually allow and promote sexually explicit sex education programs in public schools.

1961. The National Council of Churches gives its backing to unnatural forms of birth control.

1965. Griswold v. Connecticut sounds the death knell for all anti-contraception legislation in the U.S. The Supreme Court invented a doctrine of privacy to permit the use of birth control.

1967. Colorado becomes the first state to allow abortion for cases of rape, incest or threat to the mother’s life.

1970. Fourteen states were allowing abortion in certain circumstances.

1972. Eisenstadt v. Baird — The Supreme Court extends the same invented right of privacy from Griswald to unmarried individuals desiring to use contraception.

22January1973. Roe v. Wade – Legalizes abortion on demand using the doctrine of privacy from Griswald. Struck down all state laws that had placed restrictions on abortion saying that no state had the authority to legislate abortion for any reason.

Doe v. Bolton – Defines life and health of the mother exception in ambiguous terms and further secures abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy. [Reality Check, American Life League, 1/01]

ABORTION AND THE SUPREME COURT

1973 Roe v. Wade — (7-2) Court overturns a Texas law prohibiting abortions except to save the mother’s life, and rules that the constitutional right to privacy protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Legalizes abortion on demand using the doctrine of privacy from Griswald. Struck down all state laws that had placed restrictions on abortion saying that no state had the authority to legislate abortion for any reason. Court establishes trimester system, permitting states to regulate abortion after the first trimester and, after the point of “viability” to prohibit abortions except when necessary for the mother’s life or “health”, defined so broadly (i.e. social well-being) as to make it virtually impossible for a state to protect the unborn child at any time during the nine months.

 Doe v. Bolton (410 U.S. 179 stated “…the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health…” 410 U.S. 192)  Both decisions were 7-2 votes. Justice Blackmun wrote the majority opinion with Justices White and Rehnquist dissenting.

1976 (July) Planned Parenthood of Central MO v. Danforth — Court holds that a Missouri abortion law requiring the consent of parents and husband is unconstitutional. States may not prohibit the use of a particular type of abortion method nor require doctors to take as much care to save the life of an aborted baby as if the baby were born prematurely. This decision was decided by votes of 6-3 and 5-4 with Blackmun writing the opinion, and dissent by Chief Justice Burger, Justices White and Rehnquist, and Justice Stevens in part.

1977 (June) Maher v. Doe, Beal v. Doe — Court upholds a CT law that limits state Medicaid funding to medically necessary abortions and does not pay for “elective” abortions. Decided by a 6-3 vote with Powell writing the opinion and Brennan, Marshall and Blackmun dissenting.

1977 Poeiker v. Doe — A city may choose to provide publicly-financed hospital services for childbirth, but may choose to bar abortions in its public hospitals. Decided by a 6-3 vote with Brennan, Marshall and Blackmun dissenting.

1979 Bellotti v. Baird, Hunerwald v. Baird — Overturning a MA parental consent law, court rules that minors who want abortions must be allowed to seek court permission without first consulting their parents. Judges must permit “mature” minors to have abortions and allow abortions for immature minors if it would be in their best interest. Five justices stated they would accept some form of parental notification. Decided by 8-1 vote with White dissenting.

1979 Colautti v. Franklin — A state may not require doctors doing abortions to protect the life of the fetus whenever they have reason to believe it might survive the abortion. Decided by 6-3 vote with Blackmun writing the opinion and Burger, White and Rehnquist dissenting.

1980 Harris v. McRae [McRae v. Secretary of HEW, Zbaraz v. Quern (Williams)] — Court upholds constitutionality of the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortion except when necessary to save the mother’s life. States are under no obligation to pay for such abortions if federal funds for reimbursement are withdrawn. Decided by a 5-4 vote with Stewart writing the decision and Brennan, Blackmun, Marshall and Stevens dissenting.

1981 H.L. v. Matheson — The Court upheld a Utah statute requiring that the parents of a minor be informed by a physician, “if possible” before he performs an abortion upon her. Decided by a 6-3 vote with Chief Justice Burger writing the decision and Marshall, Brennan and Blackmun dissenting.

1983 City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health — Court – strongly reaffirming

Roeinvalidates an Akron, OH, ordinance requiring, among other things, that women wait 24 hours between agreeing to and having an abortion, that all abortions after the first trimester be performed in hospitals and that women be informed that “the unborn child is a human life from the moment of conception.”

1983 (June 15) Planned Parenthood of Kansas City, MO v. Ashcroft — Court upholds MO law requiring that two doctors be present at late stage abortions, that a pathology report be obtained for every abortion and that minors seeking abortions obtain parental consent or judicial authorization.

1986 Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Pennsylvania Section — Court rejects Reagan administration request to overturn Roe and strikes down “informed consent” provision of PA law because it was designed to dissuade women from having abortions.

[The Washington Post, 10 January 1989]

30June1994 Madsen v. Women’s Health Center — Supreme Court upholds the creastion of so-called “buffer zones” around abortion centers, severely restricting free speech.

26June2003 Lawrence v. Texas — Supreme Court struck down a Texas law prohibiting sodomy, citing international law.

6November2003 — Federal judges in New York and CA issued temporary restraining orders blocking enforcement of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which had been passed by Congress and signed by the President.

[Landmark U.S. court decisions that have undermined values and family, Focus on the Family brochure]