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Abortion History


The American Medical Association condemns abortion except as necessary to preserve the life of either the mother or child.

Every state in the United States has adopted laws banning abortion.

Margaret Sanger forms the Birth Control League (now Planned Parenthood) to promote contraception and abortion.

The American Law Institute proposes the “Model Penal Code” urging that abortion be performed in licensed hospitals when necessary to preserve the mental or physical health of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

Griswold v. Connecticut. Supreme Court hands down decision that legalizes contraception and defines the “right to privacy.”

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

Fourteen states were allowing abortion in certain circumstances.

Roe v. Wade. Stating that a constitutional “right to privacy” exists that protects a woman’s decision to have an abortion, the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes abortion on demand. The Court permits states to outlaw abortions from viability until birth (third trimester) except when necessary to preserve the mother’s life or health. Norma McCorvey

Doe v. Bolton. The Supreme Court defines “health” (of the mother) to include all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age. This basically allows a woman to have an abortion at any time during her pregnancy and for any reason.

Planned Parenthood Association of Central Missouri v. Danforth. A Missouri abortion law, requiring the consent of parents in the case of minors—and husbands in the case of a married woman—is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. This decision outlaws any restrictions that “impose an undue burden” on a woman’s “right” to an abortion.

President Bill Clinton sign five executive orders into effect, allowing fetal tissue research and harvesting, RU486 research, abortion counseling in federally funded family planning clinics, and abortion services in U.S. military hospitals.

President Clinton signs into law the Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrance Act (FACE), which inhibits the first amendment rights of pro-lifers to peacefully protest, demonstrate, and provide sidewalk counseling at abortion clinics. Joe Scheidler

Stenberg v. Carhart. On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court declared that Nebraska’s partial birth abortion law unconstitutionally placed an undue burden on a woman’s so-called right to a late-term abortion.

President George W. Bush issues policy limiting use of human embryonic stem cells in research. See

President Bush signs a partial birth abortion ban law. See

Now v. Scheidler. Supreme Court rules in favor of Pro-Life Action League, concurring that anti-trust laws were not broken by pro-life demonstrators. See

Now v. Scheidler. Supreme Court unanimously rules in favor of Scheidler again, putting to rest the NOW case that the 7th circuit had been keeping alive. See

Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Supreme Court rules that the government cannot restrict abortions when one is required during a medical emergency. See

Gonzales v. Carhart; Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood. Supreme Court upholds federal partial birth abortion law. See