white house historical association > president's park / citizen's soapbox : a history of protest at the white house
For about a century before Roe v. Wade (1973), abortions were largely outlawed in the United States.  In the mid-1960s, some states began to loosen those laws. On January 22, 1973, a 7-to-2 majority ruled that the U.S. Constitution protected the right of a woman to have an abortion through the second trimester of the pregnancy.  During the third trimester, the Court proclaimed that states could outlaw abortions unless the life or health of the woman is jeopardized. 

In the years that followed Roe v. Wade, two distinct camps grew in the United States.  Pro-life advocates argue that the life of the unborn child should be protected at the moment of conception.  Pro-choice activists maintain that abortion is a right protected by the 14th amendment, and they work to turn back attempts to legally restrict a woman’s right to make her own choices. 

In recent years, pro-life supporters urged Congress to abrogate the right to abortion altogether with a constitutional amendment.  Pro-choice advocates, on the other hand, protest against legislation restricting federal funding or availability of abortions.  A presidential candidate’s platform on abortion has, at times, become a barometer for voters.

Both pro-life and pro-choice sympathizers have come to Lafayette Park and other areas in Washington, D.C., to voice their opinions to the president of the United States, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, and fellow citizens.  Examples include the March for Women’s Lives, which brought hundreds of thousands to the nation’s capital in April 2004.  The March for Life, meanwhile, is an annual event that coincides with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January.  


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Click link to read documents and listen to oral arguments related to Supreme Court decisions on this topic




citizen's soapbox > open page
one > introduction
two > suffragists
three > truman assassination attempt
four > civil rights
five > anti-war protests, 60s-70s
six > nuclear disarmament
seven > pro-life & pro-choice
eight > the cause continue
nine > conclusion
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