May 19, 2022
In the uproar over the leak of an early draft of a Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision legalizing abortion, the rhetoric of editorialists and commentators friendly to abortion has been short on light but long on heat. Even the conclusion of the New York Times editorial, “If you thought Roe v. Wade itself led to discord and division, just wait until it’s gone”, left you wondering: Is that a prediction or a threat?
At this time of unbridled passions it makes sense to recall T.S. Eliot’s wise saying, “The end is where you start from,” and reflect on what the founders of the abortion movement really saw as ultimate ends. And on that question no source speaks with more authority than Lawrence Lader.
Probably few people today remember Lader, but feminist writer Betty Friedan admiringly declared him “the father of the abortion movement.” Among other things, he wrote the most influential abortion advocacy book before Roe, and his handiwork was cited nine times by the majority opinion in that case. He remained a stalwart of the pro-abortion crusade up to his death in 2006 at the age of 86.
Lader was a journalist who wrote for magazines in the years after World War II. His eleven books included a biography of Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, and a volume arguing the case for the abortion drug RU-486. As a leader in the abortion movement, he was a co-founder of a group called the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, now, NARAL Pro-Choice America.