In 1973, the Supreme Court legalized abortion, ruling that it was a private matter between a mother and her doctor within the first three months of pregnancy. The 7-2 ruling overturned laws in Texas, Georgia and 17 other states, stating the government had no right to enter into the now protected decision. The court ruled that during the second three months of pregnancy, the state could regulate abortion procedures, but only to ensure the safety of the mother. During the last three months of pregnancy, state laws would prevail.
Unwittingly, the Supreme Court also sentenced 55 million unborn babies to death over the next 42 years, including well over 14 million African-American children. The ruling overturned centuries of laws prohibiting taking the lives of the unborn.
How was this monumental change accomplished? How could a nation that promised the blessings of life and liberty to its posterity, a nation that so treasured its children become capable of allowing millions of its posterity to be wiped out before birth?
Lies and spin from the progressive left.
Pro-abortion activists became something everyone could love — pro-choice. Who could possibly be against choice in America? It wasn’t about aborting an unborn baby anymore, but a woman’s right to choose what she wanted to do with her body. In order to nullify the objection over the human being growing inside the womb, they also began a campaign to dehumanize the human fetus by referring to it as tissue or cells.
If the spin wasn’t enough, there were also lies.
One of the most prominent pro-abortion activists was renowned abortionist — and cofounder of NARAL — Bernard Nathanson. Nathanson and his allies lied relentlessly and spectacularly about the number of women who had died each year from abortions. He claimed that between 5,000 and 10,000 women died each year from illegal abortions. The actual number in 1972, the year before Roe v. Wade, was 39. Nathanson later confessed he had lied about the numbers, knowing full well the figures were totally false. He stated his overriding concern was to eliminate the laws against abortion and “anything within reason that had to be done was permissible.”
Bernard Nathanson had a change of heart one year after the nation’s abortion laws were overturned in 1973. By 1980, he had given up the abortion industry entirely and eventually became active in the pro-life movement, later converting from Atheism to Christianity. But the damage had been done.
In 1970, the woman at the heart of Roe v. Wade — Norma McCorvey, a young woman who lived in Texas — became pregnant with her third child. She wanted an abortion, but they were illegal in Texas. So Jane Roe, as she would come to be called in court, found two young lawyers to challenge the laws. They lost their initially court battles, but appealed all the way to the United States Supreme Court. And in 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 in Roe’s favor, negating the abortion laws in 46 states. Jane Roe, never had the abortion, giving her baby up for adoption instead.
Norma McCorvey came to deeply regret her decision and her part in overturning abortion laws. For decades since, she has been a committed warrior in the pro-life movement.
It’s a bittersweet irony that two of the people most responsible for legalizing abortion in America became adamantly and actively pro-life.