Lawrence Lader: the consummate abortion activist

Lader's organising genius paved the way to the US Supreme Court's historic Roe vs Wade decision, which struck down all state laws across the USA.
  • Lader was unique in his pioneering dedication to abortion rights.
  • He was chairman of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) from 1969-1975.
  • "the most important figure in the abortion rights history"
  • As president of the Abortion Rights Coalition, he organised the research which led to FDA approval for RU 486.
  • Lawrence Lader has remained a torchbearer for abortion rights.
Lawrence Lader, died 7th May 2006, of cancer, at the age of 86, was the "Godfather" of the modern abortion movement in the United States. His former colleague, Dr Bernard Nathanson, described him as "the most important figure in the abortion rights history".

Lader was born into wealth in New York, and after serving in WW11, embarked on a career as a journalist, covering the radical causes of the time. He was a close friend of the birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger and wrote a critically acclaimed biography of her.

Lader was unique in his pioneering dedication to abortion rights, writing "Abortion" in 1966. His fortuitous meeting in 1968 with Bernard Nathanson, a highly qualified obstetrician and gynaecologist, led to the founding of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). He was chairman from 1969-1975.

"Lader and I were perfect for each other," said Nathanson. "We sat down and plotted out the organization now known as NARAL. With Betty Friedan, we set up this organization and began working on the strategy."

Lader's organising genius paved the way to the US Supreme Court's historic Roe vs Wade decision, which struck down all state laws across the USA.
A dedicated social revolutionary, Lader brought total commitment, vision, political nous and strategic planning to the campaigns to change state laws in the late 1960s and early 1970s. His organising genius paved the way to the US Supreme Court's historic Roe vs Wade decision, which struck down all state laws across the USA.

A former associate professor of journalism, Lawrence Lader wrote over 450 articles for leading American periodicals.

When the abortion drug RU486 first appeared in France, Lader saw its potential for replacing surgical abortions. In 1971, he wrote the book RU486: The Pill that Could End the Abortion Wars and Why American women Don't Have It", to rouse public support for its widespread use. 

As president of the Abortion Rights Coalition, he organised the research which led to Federal Drug Administration approval for the drug.

In contrast to his NARAL co-founder Bernard Nathanson (who later became a dedicated anti-abortionist), Lawrence Lader has remained a torchbearer for abortion rights. 

In 2003, he distilled his 50 years of experience into the book "Ideas Triumphant: Strategies for Social Change and Progress", in which he analyses how ideas originate, how they can be turned into movements and become national policy through courts and legislatures.