Abortion Politics

October 22, 1976

Report Outline
Abortion as a Campaign Issue
Abortion Reform Movement, 1959–73
Issues for Post-Election Period
Special Focus

Abortion as a Campaign Issue

One of the major surprises of the 1976 election campaign has been the prominence of the abortion issue. From the opening days of the presidential primary season last January, both political parties and their candidates have been under heavy pressure from dedicated groups and individuals demanding endorsement of strong stands favoring or opposing legalized abortion. Since the formal start of the general election campaign on Labor Day, President Ford and his Democratic opponent, Jimmy Carter, continually have been asked to define and redefine their stands on this emotion-laden, divisive and complex question.

Most of the impetus has come from groups working to overturn a Supreme Court decision upholding a woman's constitutional right to choose to have an abortion. The court ruled, on Jan. 22, 1973, that only during the final three months of pregnancy can the state constitutionally prohibit abortions (see p. 774). The court later extended women's abortion rights by ruling, July 1, 1976, that a woman need not obtain spousal or parental consent to have an abortion.

Since it was legalized in 1973, abortion has become the most frequently performed surgical procedure in the nation. Nearly one million legal abortions were performed in the United States in 1975, according to a recent study by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, based on statistics gathered by the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Sep. 09, 2022  Abortion Post-Roe
Mar. 01, 2019  Abortion Controversies
Mar. 21, 2014  Abortion Debates
Oct. 04, 2011  Gendercide Crisis
Sep. 10, 2010  Abortion Debates
Sep. 22, 2006  Abortion Showdowns
Mar. 21, 2003  Abortion Debates
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
Campaigns and Elections
Campaigns and Elections