Focus on the Family

Abortion

by Focus on the Family Issue Analysts

History in the United States

In 1959, efforts to liberalize state abortion laws were mounting, and model legislation to legalize abortion in limited cases was proposed at the state level. Abortion advocates often cited as many as ten thousand illegal abortion deaths each year as reason for legalization. However, statements from those on the forefront of this movement reveal that this number was, at best, unsubstantiated and, at worse, purposefully exaggerated. 1

Another argument for legalizing abortion was that it would enable licensed physicians — rather than unlicensed amateurs — to commit the act. However, in 1960, before abortion was legal, Mary Calderone, former president of Planned Parenthood, wrote that trained physicians performed "90% of illegal abortions." 2

Current Status

Recent public opinion polling indicates a majority of Americans support additional limits on abortion, including bans on late term abortions. They are not comfortable with the virtually unrestricted access it currently enjoys.

Most abortion laws are in effect at the state level. Since Roe and Doe, the US Supreme Court has granted states some latitude in regulating and restricting abortion. As a result, many states have passed measures mandating parental involvement in minor abortion decisions and uniform counseling with reflection periods. A federal ban on a specific type of late-term abortion, "partial birth abortion," was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in April 2007.


1Bernard Nathanson, Aborting America, Doubleday, 1979, p.193; Lucinda Cisler, "Birth Control" in Sisterhood is Powerful, edited by Robin Morgan, Vintage Books, 1970, p. 260.
2Source: M. Calderone, "Illegal abortion as a public health problem," American Journal of Public Health, July 1960, 50 (7): 949.
3Facts on Induced Abortion in the United Sates," Guttmacher Institute, July 2008, accessed online August 13, 2008 at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html
4Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Abortion Surveillance 2004 Report,"November 23, 2007, accessed online August 13, 2008, 2008 at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5609.pdf
5Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Abortion Surveillance 2004 Report,"November 23, 2007, accessed online August 13, 2008 at http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/PDF/ss/ss5609.pdf
6Facts on Induced Abortion in the United Sates," Guttmacher Institute, July 2008, accessed online August 13, 2008 at http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html