How Abortion Became Legal
When Abortion Was Rejected
It was in 1827 that the discovery of "conception" revealed when human life begins. As a result, the American Medical Association (AMA) urged state legislators to pass laws protecting the unborn human "from conception" and prohibiting abortion. During the 1800's all states passed laws making abortion a serious crime.
Then over 100 years later in the 1960's and 1970's some states began passing laws to allow abortion in very limited circumstances; i.e., to save the life of the mother, etc. Most states were comfortable with these very limited allowances.
However, on January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court rendered all laws protecting the unborn child to be null and void in their infamous Roe v. Wade decision. The Court's rulings legalized abortion in all 50 states for the full nine months of pregnancy. This was because the Court had determined in Roe v. Wade that "legal personhood does not exist prenatally."
There was only one other time in history when the U.S. Supreme Court made such a sweeping decision on personhood. That was in 1857 with the Dred Scott decision when they ruled that black people were not "legal persons" according to the U.S. Constitution. It took a bloody civil war and the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution to finally grant freedom, civil rights, and voting rights to African Americans in 1865, 1868, and 1870; but it took another 100 years before all their rights were finally recognized by society.
It's been over 40 years since Roe V. Wade, but the American public remains severely divided over the legality and morality of abortion. As sonograms, ultrasounds, and technology advance, more and more questions arise over giving legal personhood to unborn children.
Pro-choice people argue for the woman's "right to her own body," and pro-life people call for the "right to life of the unborn." Meanwhile, Roe V. Wade remains the law of the land.