One of the most controversial policy decisions in the United States was made by the Supreme Court, rather than the country’s elected politicians, who have notably shied away from passing clear legislation on the matter. In January 1973, America’s highest court ruled in favor of the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy—a decision that epitomized a dramatic shift in thinking worldwide, but in recent years has become the focus of increasingly intense efforts to restrict.
The notion of a woman’s right to choose is essentially a post-Second World War phenomenon, although the Soviet Union under Vladimir Lenin legalized abortions on request in 1920, considering the practice a temporary necessary evil which would disappear in a future communist society. Joseph Stalin reintroduced restrictions in 1936, hoping to increase population growth after the significant loss of life in World War One and the Russian Civil War.
In 1948, Japan became the first nation to introduce an outright reversal of a previous ban on abortion. It was followed by Yugoslavia (1952) and the Soviet Union (1955), then by Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania in the late 1950s. The UK’s Abortion Act was passed in 1967 and similar measures followed in Canada (1969), France (1975) and various other countries. Germany did not begin to legalize abortion until reunification in 1990.