Lawrence Lader, Man Who Co-Founded Key Pro-Abortion Group, Dies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 10, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Lawrence Lader, Man Who Co-Founded Key Pro-Abortion Group, Dies Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 10, 2006

New York, NY ( — Lawrence Lader, the writer and political activist who was called the father of the pro-abortion movement in the United States, died at his home on Sunday at the age of 86. Lader was a significant pro-abortion figure — writing books and articles and eventually co-founding the pro-abortion group now known as NARAL.

Lader was also instrumental in getting the pro-abortion movement involved with religious leaders — something activist groups are working to rebuild today.

He was successful in getting pro-abortion clergy to refer girls to abortion businesses and made some 2,000 abortion referrals himself, he said.

As an early pro-abortion advocate, before the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Lader was instrumental in getting New York to become one of the handful of states to legalize abortion before Roe.

The New York victory was the first on the heels of a meeting in his apartment in New York City in July 1968 of pro-abortion activists. Out of that meeting came an organizing meeting in Chicago in February 1969 where NARAL was born.

He also sued the IRS saying that it was wrong not to revoke the nonprofit tax status of the Catholic Church because it spoke out strongly in opposition to abortion.

“Lader not only had a flair for publicity for the issue, but he was an innovative strategist,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

In an interview with The Body Politic magazine in 1991, Lader made wild claims about pro-life people.

"Basically, the opposition really hates women, which I think comes out of a woman’s sexuality," he said. "They fear women’s independence — women no longer chained to the home waiting for the man with a rose in their teeth."

However, Serrin Foster, the president of Feminists for Life of America, says Lader exploited the women’s movement to advance his pro-abortion cause.

Lader was unsuccessful in persuading state lawmakers to overturn pro-life laws on abortion until he hijacked the women’s movement, Foster explains. Lader approached Betty Friedan, the co-founder and first president of the National Organization for Women.

"If women wanted to be hired like men, paid like men and promoted like men, Lader argued, then women shouldn’t expect employers to deal with women’s fertility issues," Foster says. "If women could control their fertility, then women could compete with men for employment."

"Friedan was reportedly not comfortable with abortion. To overcome her reticence, the founders of NARAL simply fabricated a false number of 10,000 women a year who had died from abortion," Foster said — even though NARAL advocates at the time knew the number was far less.

Once Friedan and her group accepted abortion and it became a part of the 1970s feminist movement, laws against abortion toppled.

Lader ultimately left NARAL in 1976 saying the group had become too much a part of the establishment and he founded Abortion Rights Mobilization, a strident group that attacked the Catholic Church and fought for legalization of the dangerous abortion drug RU 486.

He also funded the clinical trials that helped bring the abortion drug to the U.S. market.

Lader’s passion for abortion was an outgrowth of his work on a biography of Margaret Sanger, who founded Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion business.