Timelines :: Abortion

A model penal code for state abortion laws proposed by the American Law Institute (ALI) promotes legal abortions in instances involving the mother’s mental or physical health, pregnancy due to rape and incest, and fetal deformity.

The first ALI-model abortion law is signed in April allowing abortion in cases of permanent mental or physical disability of either the child or mother or in cases of rape or incest. California, Oregon, and North Carolina pass similar laws.

Abortion on demand up to the 24th week of pregnancy is allowed in New York after Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller signs a bill repealing the state’s 1830 law banning abortion except to save a woman’s life. Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington State pass similar laws.

Abortion is effectively allowed for any reason following the Supreme Court’s ruling on its first abortion case, United States v. Vuitch. In upholding a District of Columbia law permitting abortion only to preserve a woman’s life or health, the Court makes it clear that the term “health” involves a woman’s mental and physical condition.

By the end of this year, 13 states have an ALI-type law. Four states allow abortion on demand. Mississippi allows abortion for rape and incest while Alabama allows abortion for the mother’s physical health. Thirty-one states allow abortion only to save the mother’s life.

Roe v. Wade: On January 22 of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in this landmark case giving women the right to abortion and setting up parameters of regulation according to the trimester of pregnancy. Later this year, the National Right to Life Committee now the nation’s largest pro-life organization–is formed.

In the first statewide political battle after the Roe v. Wade decision, pro-life Sen. Bob Dole defeats a congressman physician who performs abortions.

Boston abortionist Kenneth C. Edelin is found guilty of manslaughter for the death of an unborn child and, later this year, the first Human Life Amendment is introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The U.S. Senate conducts a test vote on the Human Life Amendment in April, drawing 40 votes of the 67 needed for approval. In June of this year, the first Hyde Amendment is approved, prohibiting Medicaid funding of abortions with limited exceptions. In December, Edelin’s manslaughter conviction is overturned by the Massachusetts Superior Judicial Court, which rules that legal abortions are manslaughter only if the baby is definitely alive outside the mother’s body.

In three cases (Maher v. Roe, Beal v. Doe, and Poelker v. Doe), the U.S. Supreme Court rules that federal and state governments are not obligated to pay for abortion in public assistance programs.

In Harris v. McRae, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Hyde Amendment, ruling that there is no constitutional right for women to receive abortions at public expense. Later this year, Republican pro-life candidates Ronald Reagan and George Bush defeat pro-abortion President Jimmy Carter and Vice President Walter Mondale. Eleven U.S. Senators switch positions from pro-abortion to pro-life.

In July of this year, a bill to challenge Roe v. Wade is approved. In December, a Senate subcommittee approves a constitutional amendment declaring that the Constitution secures no right to abortion.

In March of this year, the Hatch Amendment is approved, which would place abortion regulation in the joint authority of the states and Congress. In September, the bill challenging Roe v. Wade is blocked by a pro-abortion filibuster in the U.S. Senate.

In June of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down certain requirements regarding abortions but it does rule that states may require that abortions only be performed by licensed physicians. Also this month, the Senate rejects the Eagleton-Hatch Amendment, which states that the Constitution doesn’t secure the right to an abortion, by a vote of 49-50. (A two-thirds vote is required to pass a constitutional amendment.) And in November, Congress approves an amendment prohibiting the use of federal employees health benefits programs to pay for abortions, except in circumstances threatening the life of the mother.

In June, the Reagan Administration announces the “Mexico City Policy,” denying funds to foreign organizations that perform or promote abortion as a family-planning tool in other nations. Later this year, pro-life President Reagan is reelected, defeating the pro-abortion Democrats Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro.

In July, the House reaffirms the Mexico City Policy by a 45-vote margin. The Kemp/Kasten Amendment is also enacted, denying U.S. population-assistance funds to any group that supports or participates in programs of coercive abortion or involuntary sterilization. Later this month, the U.S. Justice Department files a friend-of-the-court brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade.

In June, in Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the U.S. Supreme Court strikes down state laws requiring an abortionist to use the method most likely to allow the child to be born alive. It also strikes down women’s right-to-know laws and the waiting period requirement. In September, leading pro-abortion senators fail to block the promotion of Associate Justice William Rehnquist to chief justice.

In July, President Reagan announces that Title 10 funds won’t be offered to programs giving counseling and referral for abortion services as a family planning method. The next month, Reagan appoints a federal task force to encourage adoption as an alternative to abortion. In October of this year, the Senate rejects the nomination of pro-life Judge Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court. The seat ultimately goes to Anthony Kennedy, who votes to reaffirm the core holdings of Roe in 1992.

In September, licensing is approved by the French government for the use of RU 486. Later this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration bans the importation of the drug for personal use.Also in September, the U.S. Senate passes an amendment barring Washington D.C. from paying for abortions or performing abortions in its city-operated hospital. In October, the French government reverses its decision to halt distribution of RU 486. And in November, pro-life Republican candidates Vice President George Bush and Dan Quayle defeat pro-abortion Democratic candidates Michael Dukakis and Lloyd Bentsen.

In July, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds parts of a Missouri law stating that governments do not constitutionally have to make public facilities available to those performing abortions. In November, the “Freedom of Choice Act” is introduced for the first time in the U.S. House and Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey signs the Abortion Control Act.

In March, a federal court in New York dismisses Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit challenging the Mexico City Policy. In May, it is announced that RU 486 will be marketed outside France. In June, the U.S. House rejects a proposal to fund two organizations that promote abortion in less-developed nations. In August, the AFL-CIO Executive Council rejects a proposal to switch from a neutral stance abortion to take a pro-abortion position.

The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the Bush Administration’s regulations that prohibit routine counseling and referral for abortion in 4,000 clinics that receive Title 10 funds. President Bush vows to veto any legislation weakening current law or existing regulations pertaining to abortion. Later this year, President Bush nominates and the Senate confirms Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. In October of this year, a child is born with one arm severed at the shoulder after surviving an abortion attempt in her mother’s third trimester of pregnancy.

In February of this year, the Bush Administration threatens to veto legislation requiring federal funding of research that encourages or depends on abortion, including the use of tissue harvested from aborted babies. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirms the basics of Roe with the only a few changes. For example, it tosses the trimester scheme and upholds certain restrictions on abortion. Later this year, the U.S. House sustains President Bush’s veto of a bill requiring federal funding for transplanting tissue taken from aborted babies by a narrow margin. In September of this year, at a National Abortion Foundation seminar, abortionist Martin Haskell describes the gruesome partial-birth abortion technique, which involves delivering all but the head of a baby from the mother’s womb, piercing the skull, suctioning out the brain, then completing the delivery. And in November, pro-abortion Democrats Bill Clinton and Al Gore defeat pro-life President George Bush and Vice President Dan Quayle.

In January of this year, President Clinton issues five executive orders regarding abortion issues. They include: 1) reversing Title 10 regulations banning abortion referral by federal employees; 2) repealing the Mexico City Policy; 3) lifting the ban on funding for fetal tissue transplants; 4) instructing military hospitals to perform abortions; and 5) asking the FDA to review the import ban on RU 486. The following month, abortionist Abu Hayat is convicted of assault and illegal abortion for his attempt to kill via abortion Ana Rosa Rodriguez, the baby born in 1991 with a severed arm. In June, the U.S. House renews the Hyde Amendment. An NRLC-led lobbying campaign defeats the so-called “Freedom of Choice Act,” a proposed federal statute to invalidate even the narrow types of state abortion regulations permitted by the Supreme Court. In December, the Clinton Administration orders states to change their laws and provide payments for abortions in cases of rape or incest.

U.S. patent rights for RU 486 are donated to the Population Council. In September, it is announced that the Clinton Health Care Plan will not be introduced in the U.S. Senate in the current session. A massive public education and lobbying campaign led by NRLC contributes heavily to the ultimate defeat of Clinton’s national health system that would ration lifesaving care and pay for abortion on demand. In October, the Population Council announces that testing of RU 486 is underway in the United States. In November, in nationwide congressional elections, no pro-life members of Congress are defeated by pro-abortion challengers. Republicans take over majority control of both houses of Congress. Pro-lifers pick up six votes in the Senate and about 40 in the House.

In June, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. In August, Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, tells a national television audience that she now supports the right to life of unborn children. She had already revealed that this pregnancy was not the product of a rape – – as she had previously contended – – showing that Roe had been built on a lie. Also in August, abortionist David Benjamin is convicted of second-degree murder in the botched-abortion death of Guadalupe Negron. He is the first New York abortionist to be convicted of murder. In November, U.S. House passes the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and in December, the U.S. Senate passes the act.

In April, President Clinton vetoes the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. In July, an FDA committee recommends that the FDA approve marketing RU 486 for women up to 49 days pregnant. In September, the FDA declares RU 486 approvable, but asks for more information before the drug can be marketed. In November, Bill Clinton and Al Gore defeat the pro-life Republican ticket of Bob Dole and Jack Kemp.

In March, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act is passed in the House in March and in May, it is passed in the U.S. Senate with just three votes shy of the number required to override President Clinton’s veto, issued, as expected, the following October.

In April, the New England Journal of Medicine publishes the results of a U.S. trial of RU 486 and the drug is declared safe by the Population Council.

May 1999
The National Bioethics Advisory Commission says researchers should be allowed to harvest the stem cells from leftover embryos at fertility clinics for research that may result in effective treatments for Parkinson’s and other diseases. Research on stem cells might also lead to methods of growing body parts. The Commission reasons that the benefits from research outweigh any “taint that might attach from the source of the stem cells.” February 2001 The European Union will offset U.S. cuts in family planning: According to the Guardian newspaper, “Britain and its EU partners are poised to fill some of the gap created by President George Bush’s decision to end US payments to [some] international family planning organizations…”

June of 2002
the Swiss voted to decriminalize abortion. A parliamentary decision to allow abortions within the first 12 weeks was backed by 72% of voters.

November 2003
Ban on “Partial Birth Abortions” was signed into law on the afternoon of 2003-NOV-5. Three federal court temporary injunctions were obtained which prevent the law from being enforced.

July 2005
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation that requires doctors to tell women seeking an abortion after 20 weeks gestation that fetuses might feel pain during the procedure and offer them the option of fetal anesthesia.

Backed by abortion rights groups, three Massachusetts women sued Wal-Mart, accusing the retail giant of violating a state regulation by failing to stock emergency contraception pills in its pharmacies.

Legislation introduced in Tennessee would require death certificates for aborted fetuses.

In Romania, abortions are illegal after 14 weeks gestation unless needed to protect the health of the woman…..However, a government panel approved an abortion for a 11-year-old who was at more than 20 weeks gestation because of her age and in order to preserve her mental health. The Romanian Orthodox Church itself, however, did not denounce the abortion because they feel that abortion in case of rape and incest may be acceptable….The girl had been apparently raped by her uncle. (lifesitenews.com)


January 23, 2009-  Lead by President Obama, the United States repealed the so-called global gag order, that had prevented US funding for international family planning groups that offer advice on or perform abortions.

March 9, 2009- Australia will lift a 13-year ban on using foreign aid funds to support family planning and safe abortions in poor nations.May- The National Board of Health and Welfare in Sweden has ruled that sex-selection abortions are not illegal despite evidence that they are happening. Doctors at one hospital reported a case and some reports indicate women from Norway are going to Sweden for sex-selection abortions. The board ruled that current national law in Sweden does not prohibit abortions based on the gender of the unborn child and, as a result, they can’t be stopped. (LifeNews.com)

May 31, 2009-  Dr. George Tiller, who’s clinic was one of only three in the nation to provide late-term abortions, was shot and killed as he entered Reformation Lutheran Church.  He had been attacked previously, receiving two gunshot wounds in 1993, and his clinic had been bombed in 1985.

Aug 20, 2009- A federal judge strikes down portions of a South Dakota abortion law that required doctors to tell women seeking the procedure that they have a legally protected relationship with the fetus, and another requiring doctors to inform women that abortion increases the risk of suicide, calling it untruthful and misleading.  The judge upheld the section of the law that stated doctors must tell a pregnant woman that the procedure will terminate the life of a whole separate unique living human being.

Dec 28, 2009-  Since the legalization of abortion in Mexico City (April 2007),  approximately 34,000 procedures have been performed. (lifenews.com)

February 22, 2010
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), the federation of right-to-life affiliates in all 50 states, issues the following statement addressing the health bill proposed by President Obama:

Any member of Congress who votes for the final legislation proposed by President Obama will be voting for direct federal funding of elective abortion through Community Health Centers, and also an array of other pro-abortion federal subsidies and mandates.

The health bill passed by the Senate in December (H.R. 3590) had become, by the conclusion of the Senate amendment process, the most expansively pro-abortion bill ever brought to the floor of either house of Congress since Roe v. Wade.  [Obama] actually proposes to increase the funds that would be available to directly subsidize abortion procedures (through Community Health Centers) and to subsidize private health insurance that covers abortion (through the premium-subsidy tax credits program).

If all of the President’s changes were made, the resulting legislation would allow direct federal funding of abortion on demand through Community Health Centers, would institute federal subsidies for private health plans that cover abortion on demand (including some federally administered plans), and would authorize federal mandates that would require even non-subsidized private plans to cover elective abortion.

Source: http://www.nrlc.org/press_releases_new/Release092911.html

September 29, 2011
Pro-abortion advocates in North Carolina (including two Planned Parenthood affiliates) filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle Districtof North Carolina seeking to block the North Carolina “Woman’s Right to Know” law from going into effect.  The law, which was enacted in July over Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto, requires that mothers seeking abortion be given information about the abortion and that a real-time ultrasound image of her unborn child be displayed so that she may view the image before the abortion can be performed.

Enacted by a bi-partisan override of Governor Perdue’s July veto, the informed consent law provides that a booklet containing scientifically accurate information about risks, alternatives and information on the development of the unborn child, compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services, be offered to the mother at least 24 hours prior to an abortion so that she might have the opportunity to read and understand the information.  It also provides that an ultrasound image of the unborn child be displayed at least four hours prior to an abortion so that the mother might view it.

Source: http://www.nrlc.org/press_releases_new/Release092911.html

August 31, 2011
An Idaho law protecting unborn children who are capable of feeling pain from abortion was challenged in the U.S. District Court for Idaho, with a hearing set for September 8. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act was passed by the Idaho state legislature by overwhelming majorities earlier this spring. In passing the law, the legislature determined that there is substantial medical evidence concluding that unborn children are capable of experiencing pain and that the state has a compelling state interest in protecting these pain-capable children.

A significant number of scientific studies support the state’s conclusion that unborn babies are capable of feeling pain by twenty weeks (20) weeks after fertilization. On average, 18,000 abortions are performed every year in the United States on these pain-capable children, including at some Planned Parenthood clinics. An online library of research and further information is available atwww.doctorsonfetalpain.com.

Source:  http://www.nrlc.org/press_releases_new/Release092911.html

January 20, 2012
New regulations implemented by the Obama administration mandate that sterilization options, abortifacients (abortion drugs), and contraception services must be included in virtually all health plans, including those offered by Christian charities, church based hospitals, Christian universities, and other faith-based social services agencies. Obama now demands that his anti-life and pro-abortion agenda be supported not only by our tax dollars, but also by the donations of Christians who consider the destruction of human life morally abhorrent and an abomination, violating the First-Amendment religious rights of millions of Americans.


March 12, 2012 – The Obama administration issued the final rules on abortion funding. The concern pro-life organizations had about the ObamaCare legislation funding abortions has been confirmed, as the Obama administration released their governing implementations over the controversial health care law. Nestled within the “individual mandate” in the Obamacare act–that portion of the Act requiring every American to purchase government–approved insurance or pay a penalty–is an “abortion premium mandate.” This mandate requires all persons enrolled in insurance plans that include elective abortion coverage to pay a separate premium from their own pockets to fund abortion.

Obama Admin Finalizes Rules: $1 Abortion Surcharge in ObamaCare

August 28, 2012 – Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), a leading pro-life member of Congress, called President Barack Obama extreme on abortion, particularly citing the president’s opposition to a ban on sex-selective abortion.


A record 87 surgical abortion clinics closed in 2013, a new study finds. The total number of surgical abortion clinics in U.S. fell 12% to 582 in 2013 – a 73% decline from a high of 2,176 in 1991. (cnsnews.com)

U.S. appeals court upholds new Texas abortion rules. A federal appeals court on March 27, 2014 upheld Texas’ tough abortion restrictions that have led to the closure of nearly 20 clinics around the state, saying the new rules don’t jeopardize women’s health. Gov. Rick Perry hailed the ruling in a statement released by his office.

“The people of Texas have spoken through their elected leaders and in support of protecting the culture of life in our state,” he said. “Today’s court decision is good news for Texas women and the unborn, and we will continue to fight for the protection of life and women’s health in Texas.” (fox news.com)

A series of videos has been released that shows Planned Parenthood discussing the selling baby body parts harvested from abortions.

According to the Pew Research Center public support for legal abortion is as high as it has been in two decades of polling. Currently, 57% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, while 39% say it should be illegal in all or most cases.

Pro-Life President Donald Trump signed an executive action in his first week in office reinstating the so-called Mexico City Policy, which bars international non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions from receiving U.S. government funding.