By NRLC President Carol Tobias
Editor’s note. This Introduction begins NRLC’s 8th annual “The State of Abortion in the United States” report released last Thursday. Elsewhere today, we’ll offer an overview of this invaluable resource.
Over five decades ago, a movement began to take shape. Doctors and teachers, lawyers and homemakers, men and women of diverse backgrounds, different faiths and opposing political viewpoints all came together united by one common belief: that taking a human life through abortion was anathema to American values. As pro-abortion forces began pushing for changes in state laws, those dedicated pro-life activists rose up and became a powerful voice against those who viewed human life as expendable.
Their task became more challenging when the U.S. Supreme Court federalized the abortion issue. In its twin Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions, which were handed down on January 22, 1973, the Court legalized abortion for any reason. Tragically, 48 years later, National Right to Life estimates that more than 62 million unborn children have lost their lives as a result of those decisions.
However, the right-to-life movement has remained undeterred. Through our determination to protect mothers and their children, we continue to see evidence that our efforts to educate our nation about the unborn child’s humanity, and our efforts to enact protective pro-life legislation, are having a tremendous impact in moving our nation away from Roe’s and Doe’s deadly legacy.
Now, on this 48th anniversary of the Court’s action, we pause to look at the state of abortion in the United States. From recent data analyzed in these pages, we know the annual number of abortions is in an overall decline. This drop in numbers can be traced to a number of factors, but among them are the efforts by National Right to Life and its network of state affiliates to enact protective laws that provide legal protection to unborn children and offer hope and help to their mothers. These legislative efforts are at the very heart of our work, and they are one of the keys to ending abortion in the United States.
All of this is welcome news. Pro-life education and legislative efforts are making an impact on our culture and in the lives of women facing unexpected pregnancies.
But there is still much to be done.
This eighth annual “State of Abortion in the United States” is not just a snapshot of where we are as the nation observes the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, but also a blueprint for how we move forward to build a culture that values life and respects mothers and their children.