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The American Law Institute (ALI) proposes a model penal code for state
abortion laws. The code advocates legalizing abortion for reasons
including the mental or physical health of the mother, pregnancy due to
rape and incest, and fetal deformity.
Apr. 25: Colorado Gov. John A. Love signs the
first "liberalized" ALI-model abortion law in the United States,
allowing abortion in cases of permanent mental or physical disability of
either the child or mother or in cases of rape or incest. Similar laws
are passed in California, Oregon, and North Carolina.
Apr. 11: New
York allows abortion on demand up to the 24th week of pregnancy, as Gov.
Nelson A. Rockefeller signs a bill repealing the state's 1830 law that
banned abortion after quickening except to save a woman's life. Similar
laws are passed in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state.
Apr. 21: The U.S. Supreme Court rules on its
first case involving abortion in United States v. Vuitch,
upholding a District of Columbia law permitting abortion only to
preserve a woman's life or "health." However, the Court makes it clear
that by "health" it means "psychological and physical well-being,"
effectively allowing abortion for any reason.
By year's end a total of 13 states have an ALI-type law. Four states
allow abortion on demand. Mississippi allows abortion for rape and
incest  while Alabama allows abortion for the mother's physical
health . However, 31 states allow abortion only to save the mother's
New York repeals its 1970 abortion law but Gov. Rockefeller vetoes the
Jan. 22: The U.S. Supreme Court issues its
ruling in Roe v. Wade, finding that a "right of privacy" it
had earlier discovered was "broad enough to encompass" a right to
abortion and adopting a trimester scheme of pregnancy. In the first
trimester, a state could enact virtually no regulation. In the second
trimester, the state could enact some regulation, but only for the
purpose of protecting maternal "health." In the third trimester, after
viability, a state could ostensibly "proscribe" abortion, provided it
made exceptions to preserve the life and "health" of the woman seeking
abortion. Issued on the same day, Doe v. Bolton defines "health"
to mean "all factors" that affect the woman, including "physican,
emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age."
May 14: The National
Right to Life Committee is incorporated.
June: The first NRLC Convention is held in
Detroit, gathering activists from pro-life groups around the nation to
form what has become the largest pro-life organization in the United
Nov. 1: The first
issue of NRL
News is published.