Sunday, May 14, 2006

Lawrence Lader Dies

I woke up this morning to my brother's espresso and the LA Times. Flipping through the front pages, I discovered the Obituary for Lawrence Lader, who was one of our most outspoken and effective activists for abortion rights. His quest to secure legal and safe abortions began shortly after writing a biography on Margaret Sanger's life in 1955, entitled The Margaret Sanger Story. After finishing this book, he became interested in abortion, a topic that the LA Times obit notes was unspeakable at the time, and wrote the pioneer work Abortion. Upon completing this work, many women contacted him about how to get a safe abortion and NARAL was born. His book was cited several times in the Roe decision.

Last summer I read his book, Abortion II, where I read about some of the pioneer abortion doctors and quickly became interested in doing research on why one of these men, in particular, would do something so bold as provide abortions to his rural community from 1938-1961 (when he was put in jail).

What worries me now is that all of these amazing pioneers are dying, and before we get a chance to really learn from them and remember the history of the abortion rights movement in this country. We need pioneers like Lader again, given the radical assault on women's rights in states like South Dakota. Apparently Lader's last act was to take out an ad in the Sioux Falls newspaper protesting South Dakota's new law. What a shame that the leaders of this movement are departing this earth, and younger women and men have grown up in a time where back alley abortions are a bad memory of the past. We desperately need people to tell us the stories of life before Roe.

I wish I would've known that Lader was still fighting in NYC. I would've tried to contact him, and now feel regret that I couldn't interview him about his work. Do any of my readers know about interviews or works written on Lader?

You can read several obituaries: NYTimes, WaPo, LATimes are among some of them.