Daniel Williams has written a nice piece on how Roe v. Wade affected the pro-life movement.  While many think that Roe gave rise to a substantive pro-life movement, this is not true to history.  Williams notes the following facts:

  • The pro-life movement witnessed a string of legislative victories to curtail or outlaw abortion in 1971 and 1972.  They defeated abortion bills in all 25 states who considered them in 1971.  In 1972, voters defeated abortion initiatives in MI and ND by large margins.
  • Abortion became legal in CA and CO in 1967.
  • In 1970, four states legalized abortion for virtually any reason up to the 20th or 24th week of pregnancy
  • There were 586,760 abortions in 1972, the year before Roe was decided. In 1973, the number of legal abortions rose 28% to 750,000.  By 1980 the number reached 1.5 million.
  • When Roe was decided, 19 states permitted abortion, and 4 of those 19 allowed abortion-on-demand.
  • White women used to constitute the majority of those obtaining abortion (75% in 1973), but now poor, minority women constitute the majority (55% in 2008).
  • Several courts had recognized the unborn to be persons prior to Roe declaring this to be a wrong reading of the Constitution.
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