The Pro-Life Movement: Past and Present

For nearly two centuries, the pro-life movement has been working hard to repeal or change abortion laws. So, how far have we come? Where did it all begin? Learning more about the pro-life movement’s history can help shape our actions for the future.

Caring Network is a pro-life ministry in the western suburbs of Chicago, providing pregnancy support services since 1981.  Thanks to pro-life supporters and partners, we are able to participate in the saving of lives by offering lasting hope and compassionate support to women in need. To learn more about how to partner with us and further the pro-life movement, reach out today!

How Did the Pro-Life Movement Begin?

Let’s take a step back to the 19th century. The pro-life movement took shape the 1830’s and 1840’s in response to abortion legalization in various states. In 1869, the Catholic Church responded by declaring human life sacred from the moment of conception. This was one of the first boldly pro-life acts that would define the movement going forward. Later, around the turn of the century, John C. Wilke would further the momentum by founding the National Right to Life Committee.

Pro-Life Movement Milestones

The debate about abortion continued to grow over the decades. With the passing of Roe vs Wade in 1973, abortion was instantly legalized in all 50 states. The Supreme Court’s decision sparked a massive increase in pro-life initiative, with the Roman Catholic Church again taking the lead in the movement. Various pro-life organizations were founded, including Operation Rescue and Americans United for Life. Then, in 1976, the Hyde Amendment provided a pro-life victory by banning government funding for abortions in almost all cases.

During the 1980’s Ronald Reagan served as one of the most outspoken pro-life presidents. Pro-life organizations continued to originate and thrive, some of which opened the first pregnancy centers in the nation. Caring Network was founded during this time.  Also, a short film called “The Silent Scream” was released by Dr. Bernard Nathanson, which showed ultrasound footage of a baby during an abortion. This served to bring further awareness and support to the pro-life cause.

The Current State of the Pro-Life Movement

Recently, we have made leaps and bounds in abortion repeal or regulation. In 2003, the Partial Birth Abortion Act prohibited abortions that involved any part of an infant extending outside the mother’s body. Several years later, Live Action’s undercover films shed light on Planned Parenthood’s sale of fetal tissue, sparking national outrage against the abortion provider. In 2019 alone, there have already been at least 250 pro-life measures introduced across the different states, with at least seven states signing historical abortion repeals into law. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Ohio have banned abortion after 6 weeks. Arkansas and Utah now prohibit abortion after 18 weeks. Alabama has made history by outlawing abortion at any stage. Missouri will soon be closing its last remaining abortion clinic in the entire state.

Although the pro-life movement has encountered many challenges over the years, its members have continued to lobby, serve women in need, and be a voice for the voiceless. Caring Network has been an active member in this work for almost 40 years now.  During that time, thousands of lives have been saved and women have been spared the pain of abortion by God’s grace.  Join with us in furthering the pro-life movement by partnering with us in prayer, financial support, or by volunteering your time.