Abortion in Law and Medicine

October 6, 1965

Report Outline
Pressure for Reform of Abortion Laws
Present Availability of Legal Abortion
Issues in Modification of Abortion Laws

Pressure for Reform of Abortion Laws

As Taboos against open discussion of abortion fall away, pressures are rising to liberalize state statutes limiting the conditions under which doctors may lawfully terminate a pregnancy. Current interest in reform of abortion laws appears compounded chiefly of pity for women driven to seek illicit and often dangerous means of preventing an unwanted birth—and of impatience with laws that appear to be out of key with actual practice.

Anxiety over the effects of rapid population growth also plays a part in directing attention to the abortion problem. Experts believe that the prevalence of abortion, legal or illegal, has contributed significantly to forestalling still greater expansion of world population than that now occurring. Their answer to moralists opposed to easing American abortion laws is to demand support of birth control programs that will effectively hold down birth rates. Moral, legal and medical questions involved in abortion and contraception have thus become intertwined. Meanwhile, millions of women all over the globe continue to find ways of terminating pregnancies in disregard of civil laws and religious strictures—and many die as a result.

Open Discussion of a Formerly Taboo Subject

Emergence of the subject of abortion law reform into the arena of popular discussion in the United States was marked last spring by two showings of a highly publicized, prime-time, hour-long television program, “Abortion and the Law,” over the Columbia Broadcasting System network. The program, though presented in an unbiased manner, pointed up the nature of the problem with case histories that aroused sympathy for women victimized by the “system,” and it gave spokesmen for liberalization of abortion laws a rare opportunity to make their case before a mass audience.

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Sep. 22, 2006  Abortion Showdowns
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Nov. 28, 1997  Roe v. Wade At 25
Apr. 07, 1995  Abortion Clinic Protests
Jul. 05, 1991  Teenagers and Abortion
Jan. 26, 1990  Abortion: Politicians' Nightmare
Oct. 16, 1987  Abortion Policy
Jan. 14, 1983  Abortion: Decade of Debate
Oct. 22, 1976  Abortion Politics
Jul. 24, 1970  Abortion Law Reform
Oct. 06, 1965  Abortion in Law and Medicine
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues
Abortion, Contraception and Reproductive Issues