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A Brief History of Abortion and Life in America

January is Sanctity of Human Life month, when many churches dedicate time to talk about the value of life and abortion. The infamous Supreme Court case that legalized abortion – Roe v. Wade – was decided in the month of January 46 years ago. And in recognition of this month, the March for Life brings hundreds of thousands of pro-life individuals to Washington, D.C., to be a voice for the voiceless.

2017 and 2018 saw significant life-affirming developments and returned the conversation of abortion and pro-life to the national dialogue. Both our President and Vice President have drawn attention to the value of human life in ways we have not seen in years. The Mexico City Policy was reversed, which means U.S. taxpayer money can’t be used internationally for abortion counseling or referrals. Two Supreme Court justices have been appointed, and as a result much has been discussed about the potential to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Locally, Life Network is helping more women and men than ever before. We’re using new online approaches to reach women facing unexpected pregnancies. And the Education for a Lifetime program proactively equips more than 8,500 teenage students annually with the understanding of the tremendous value their lives have.

In light of these developments, we wanted to outline some of the history of abortion and the pro-life movement in America to provide context and helpful education about this polarizing but vitally important human rights issue. We hope you find this helpful, and if you’d like extra copies to share with friends and family, let us know! You can download it directly here.

A Brief History of Abortion & Life in America

Abortion in America has a surprising history based on deception and lies.

In the 1960s, two men founded NARAL – then the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. These two men were Lawrence Lader, an activist and author of books on abortion, and Dr. Bernard Nathanson, an OBGYN tired of seeing low-income women giving birth to children they “couldn’t afford.”

Knowing they’d need the support of women for their movement to be successful, they recruited women like Betty Friedan, the founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW). Incidentally, Friedan (along with the executives at Planned Parenthood) originally opposed abortion because she felt it was degrading to women and gave too much power to men. But Lader was a master persuader and eventually convinced her to use her platform to promote abortion as “liberating and empowering” to women. Planned Parenthood under then-president Alan Guttmacher soon followed.

Throughout the 1960s and early 1970s they worked tirelessly, campaigning in various states to ease abortion restrictions and legalize abortion. This campaign was rooted in false data which grossly exaggerated the number of women pursuing illegal and so-called “back alley” abortions. Years later, Nathanson, the NARAL co-founder, acknowledged the lies: “I confess that I knew the figures were totally false … but the overriding concern was to get the laws eliminated, and anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”

Their ultimate victory, of course, came in the form of Roe v. Wade, a monumental Supreme Court decision that took the power to legislate abortion away from states and legalized abortion nationwide. Justice Blackmun largely based his majority opinion on Lader’s false history of abortion.

But before Roe could be handed down, Jane Roe needed to exist. Norma McCorvey (aka “Jane Roe”) lived a tragic life. Raised by her violently alcoholic mother and abandoned by her father, she married at the age of 16 and then quickly divorced. By the age of 21, she had given birth to two babies who were both placed for adoption.

When she became pregnant a third time, some friends encouraged her to claim it was the result of rape in hopes that she could obtain an abortion (then illegal except in extreme cases in Texas). Her attempts were unsuccessful without the appropriate documentation and police reports, and she eventually confessed to the fabrication. During that process she was referred to two young lawyers, Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee, who were looking for pregnant women who could help them challenge Texas’ abortion law. It took three years of trials, during which time Norma had her baby and again placed for adoption. The case bearing Norma’s alibi finally went all the way to the Supreme Court … and they won.

Norma McCorvey never had an abortion, and she also never attended a single trial. She later claimed she was used as a pawn in their campaign to legalize abortion.

The Lies of the Pro-Abortion Agenda

  • The lies in Lader’s book set the precedent for Roe, which legalized abortion nationwide, robbing us of over 60 million lives over the next 46 years.
  • The lies in Bernard Nathanson’s fabrications of the number of lives lost each year to back-alley abortions has resulted in the actual loss of millions of lives.
  • The lies implicit in Weddington and Coffee’s case claimed women needed abortion but left devastation and heartache in their wake.

These lies were embraced in the name of an agenda that was supposedly for women, but the fruit born is nothing but physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain and loss for entire generations of women and families.

The Hope of the Pro-Life Movement

Out of that painful history of events shines God’s light of redemption and hope.

  • Norma McCorvey ended up becoming a Christian and surrendered the rest of her life to God and to the efforts of pro-life advocacy before passing away in 2017.
  • Dr. Bernard Nathanson acknowledged and realized the truth about life in the womb after the invention of ultrasound technology in the 1980s. He became a pro-life advocate and told the true story of his and Lader’s work until his death in 2011.
  • Today, nearly 3,000 pregnancy centers exist nationally – including two in Colorado Springs – to provide resources and alternatives to abortion for women. The only answer Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics can give for an unplanned pregnancy is further destruction and devastation. Pregnancy centers exist to stand in the gap and offer LIFE and hope to women and men in the midst of confusion and pain.

The life-changing work of Life Network is vital and will continue on the Front Range. The resources local pregnancy centers offer have a direct and profound impact on the lives of women and men. As important as it would be for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, the sad reality is overturning Roe doesn’t end abortion. It would simply return the legislative power back to the states, which means abortion will likely always be legal in parts of our country. While God can do anything, in Colorado, which was the first to legalize abortion in 1967, it’s very unlikely abortion law will change for the better anytime soon.

We don’t write this to diminish the work of politicians, lobbyists, and advocacy groups. We would rejoice in the overturning of Roe and we pray for a time when abortion is illegal. Our hope and joy  is in serving women, men and families in Colorado Springs, and when possible, to introduce them to the abundant life offered in Jesus Christ.

While we wait and pray for the day when abortion is illegal, and celebrate the political victories as they come, our focus is — and always will be — serving women in their moment of need. Ultimately, we hope this will reduce the demand for abortion as women and the next generation better understands the healthier alternatives to their unplanned pregnancies.

If that is a pro-life movement you want to be part of, we invite you to join us.

  • PRAY for the women and men in our community facing unplanned pregnancies. Pray that they will understand the truth about the value of life and not be swayed by the lies of the abortion industry. Pray that they would find Life Network and that our counselors would be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus to them in their times of confusion and despair. Our weekly or monthly prayer updates can help you pray more specifically for LIFE in our city.
  • VOLUNTEER at Life Network. There are a variety of roles that must be filled to effectively support women, men, students and babies in our city. There is much work to be done, and as current volunteers can attest, the time spent blessing moms and families in Colorado Springs is rewarding, even transformational. Whether as a client advocate, a parenting coach, a classroom presenter, an administrative volunteer, or another key role, the Kingdom work needing to be done takes scores of volunteers annually.
  • GIVE your resources. We accept material donations of diapers, baby supplies and clothes, maternity clothes, and other needed items for new moms and babies. We also exist because of the generous financial contributions we receive each month and year. As a 501(c)(3) all donations are fully tax-deductible, and they are how we can continue to provide free services to moms, dads and babies in need in Colorado Springs.

You can find additional information on how you can engage in these opportunities by visiting: www.elifenetwork.com/GetInvolved  

What will your contribution to the pro-life movement be? Abortion was legalized because of massive grassroots efforts, and it can end the same way. We can’t rely on national politics alone to change the culture in America. We need awareness, engagement and change at the local, grassroots level. Thank you for the role you play — and will play — in saving generations of LIFE in our city!