Was abortion legal anywhere in the United States in the years immediately prior to Roe vs. Wade?
#86691. Asked by stuthehistoryguy. (Oct 01 07 12:24 PM)
Yes. A number of states allowed it with varying restrictions -- New York's law was probably the most liberal. You could also get therapeutic abortions to protect a woman's life in most states for many years, with the approval of physicians. "Protecting a woman's life" could be liberally interpreted, the situation being rather similar to the one depicted in the British film "Vera Drake":|
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 life.
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