The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History

By Eva R. Rubin | Go to book overview

Reform Activity in State Legislatures (1967-1972)

Before Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, a number of states either revised their state laws along more liberal lines or, in some cases, repealed their abortion laws altogether.

States interested in revising their laws examined the American Law Institute's Model State Abortion law. The American Law Institute (ALI) is an organization of legal scholars that studies state laws and recommends changes. The organization's draft of an abortion statute was very influential; states considering reform regarded it as a blueprint for their own legislation. A number of states passed laws drafted on this model.

North Carolina was one of the early "reform" states. Its new abortion law, passed in 196 7, followed the ALI model closely. Abortion was now to be legal in certain specified situations: where the mother's life or health was in danger, where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or where the child would be born with a grave birth defect. While this type of law legalized abortions under some circumstances, it hedged the operation with a number of restrictions.

By the 1970s reformers were beginning to object to laws that made legal abortions so difficult to obtain. They began to clamor for the outright repeal of abortion statutes, leaving the decision to women and their medical advisors, free from state interference.

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The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword xix
  • Introduction xxi
  • Part I - Before 1960 1
  • Abortion in Historical Context 3
  • Contraception and Abortion in America Before 1960 10
  • Bibliography 43
  • Part II - The Abortion Reform Movement (1960-1972) 45
  • The Reformers 47
  • Catalysts 68
  • Reform Activity in State Legislatures (1967-1972) 79
  • The Politics of State Legislative Reform (1967-1973) 82
  • Breakthrough in the Courts 89
  • The Abortion Situation Worldwide 100
  • Public Opinion 103
  • Conclusion 107
  • Philosophical Arguments for and Against the Liberalization of Abortion Laws 109
  • Bibliography 116
  • Part III - The 1973 Abortion Cases 117
  • The Law and the Cases 119
  • The Immediate Reaction to the Abortion Decisions 140
  • Bibliography 169
  • Part IV - The Battle Lines Are Drawn (1974-1980) 171
  • State Legislative Action and Judicial Response (1974-1980) 173
  • Amending the Constitution 189
  • Politics and Elections 219
  • Conclusion 223
  • Bibliography 231
  • Part V - The Reagan and Bush Administrations and Beyond (1980- ) 233
  • National Politics 237
  • State Legislation During the 1980s 267
  • New Issues and Problems 273
  • Bibliography 283
  • Epilogue - 1993 and After 285
  • Appendix A - Major Supreme Court Decisions Related to Abortion, 1973-1993 291
  • Appendix B - Chronology of Events in the Abortion Controversy 295
  • Index 303
  • About the Editor 312
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