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HISTORY TOPICS

Abortion Rights/Pro-Life Movements

Prominent among current issues of American political discourse are positions taken by advocates, either in support of abortion rights for women (pro-choice) or, conversely, of pro-life movements by those representing the rights of the unborn. In Minnesota, such organizations as Planned Parenthood of Minnesota (PPM), Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), Save Our Unwanted Life (SOUL), and the Coalition for Freedom of Choice (CFC), have framed the debate and moved it into the public and legislative realm. Discussion centers on philosophical, moral, medical, ethical, and legal precepts, and on divergent definitions of the viability of life. Controversy arises from opposing convictions about those matters. Clashes are rooted in conflicting perceptions of the appropriateness of proposed legislation-regarding either freedom of choice, or degrees of social control-in the regulation of abortion. Related collections document efforts beginning in the first half of the 20th century to provide birth control to women.

GET STARTED WITH SECONDARY SOURCES:

  • Abortion and American Politics, by Barbara Hinkson Craig and David M. O'Brien.
    Chatham, N.J.: Chatham House, 1993.
    MHS call number: HQ767.5.U5 C73 1993.
  • Abortion in Minnesota: A Profile, by Lois Geer.
    St. Paul, Minn.: Institute for Population Research & Analysis, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, 1984.
    MHS call number: HQ767.5.U5 G74 1984
  • Introduction to the Abortion Issue.
    Minneapolis, Minn.: Human Life Alliance of Minnesota, Inc., 1978.
    MHS call number: HQ767.3 .I68.
  • Issues in the Abortion Debate: Selected Readings, compiled and edited by the Population Resource Center of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota.
    St. Paul, Minn.: The Center, 1973.
    MHS call number: HQ767 .I87 1973.
  • Loaves and Fishes: A History of Pro-Life Activism in the Democratic-Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota's Fifth Congressional District (1968-81), by Christopher Anglim.
    [United States: s.n., 1981].
    MHS call number: HQ767.5.M6 A64.

PRIMARY RESOURCES:

  • Coalition for Freedom of Choice, Organization Records.
    Items created by the Coalition for Freedom of Choice, a Minnesota pro-choice organization. Includes notes on meetings of the Coalition; statements of purpose; list of participating organizations; legislative alerts, legislative summaries, and correspondence re legislative actions; a flyer announcing a program celebrating the seventh anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision on abortion; and four descriptive brochures.
    MHS call number: P2464; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for more details (there is only 1 folder of material).
  • Office of the Governor. During the 1970s and 1980s, many constituents wrote to the governor expressing their opinions on the abortion issue. For example, see Governor Perpich's Constituent Services Office.
    MHS call number: See the black State Archives Notebooks — filed under Governor
  • Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL)
    • MCCL Newsletter.
      MHS call number: Microfilm 1348.
      Note: Microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
    • MCCL Newspaper Clippings.
      Microfilmed newspaper clippings (1962-1985) compiled by MCCL documenting the abortion controversy in Minnesota. The clippings document both the pro-life and the pro-choice sides of the abortion controversy and related issues as they were played out in Minnesota and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere. Many relate to the establishment, structure, and history of MCCL as an organization.
      MHS call number: M544; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed list of reel contents (there are 19 reels of microfilm).
      Note: This microfilm may be borrowed on Interlibrary Loan.
  • Minnesota Birth Control League, President's Files.
    Constitution, bylaws, minutes, correspondence, membership lists, meeting programs, clinic and financial reports, a memo book, printed pamphlets, news clippings, and related materials kept by Elizabeth H. Shafer. Shafer was the founding president of an organization that was formed on March 15, 1928, in Minneapolis as the Motherhood Protection League for the purpose of promoting education about family planning, reforming laws that regulated access to birth control, and providing medical contraceptive treatment. The records document the formation of the League and its earliest activities.
    MHS call number: P2478; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for more details (there is 1 box), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
    Note: Records of Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, the successor to the Minnesota Birth Control League, are available at the Social Welfare History Archives at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
  • Jeri Rasmussen Papers.
    Papers of a Minnesota Democratic Party and abortion rights activist, including biographical and family information; personal correspondence, speech transcripts, and appointment books and calendars; and correspondence, minutes, printed materials, legislative files, newspaper clippings, and related papers reflecting her activities in the pro-choice movements, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party, and various women's political and feminist organizations, particularly the Minnesota branches of the Abortion Rights Council and Planned Parenthood. Rasmussen was public relations director of the latter from 1978-1985.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed alphabetically under Rasmussen, Jeri — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 9 boxes, but not all relate to this topic).
  • Save Our Unwanted Life, Inc., Organization Records.
    Records, 1973-1975, 1981, documenting the activity of a Minnesota pro-life youth group affiliated with Minnesota Citizens Concerned For Life and the National Pro-Life Coalition. The bulk of the collection is composed of records related to the state organization of Save Our Unwanted Life (SOUL) and includes its newsletter, bylaws, a roster of state board members, state board minutes, financial statements, and printed matter.
    MHS call number: P2036; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for more details (there are only 2 folders of material).
  • Gene Waldorf Papers.
    Biographical information, correspondence, legislative bill files, published background materials, and newspaper clippings documenting the legislative activities and interests of Gene Waldorf, DFL state representative and senator (1976- ) from St. Paul District 66, and a leader of the pro-life forces in the Minnesota Legislature. The major portion of the collection relates to the abortion issue, including information on freedom of choice, parental notification, school-based clinics, teenage pregnancy, and public funding of abortion.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed under Waldorf, Gene — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 3 boxes, but not all relate to this topic).
  • Jean M. Wilcox Papers.
    Memoranda, circulars, correspondence, articles, pamphlets, minutes, reports, and other papers pertaining to Wilcox's service as secretary of the Minnesota Birth Control League, with information on birth control legislation, Margaret Sanger's work, and the activities of other state and national birth control organizations; and data on Wilcox's work with the Minneapolis Town Meeting Association (1941-1958) and other Minnesota civic organizations.
    MHS call number: P319; see the green Manuscripts Notebooks for a detailed list of boxes (there are 2 boxes of material).
  • Katherine Wood Taylor Papers.
    Printed materials, newspaper clippings and magazine articles, speech files, audiocassette recordings, and some correspondence of a Minnesota Republican Party activist and abortion rights advocate. The material focuses primarily on abortion-related issues and legislation, and on Taylor's involvement in pro-choice organizations in Minnesota and her interest in abortion issues in other states.
    MHS call number: See the green Manuscripts Alpha Notebooks — filed under Wood, Katherine Taylor — for a detailed list of boxes and locator numbers (there are 6 boxes, but not all relate to this topic), or use an electronic version of the inventory.
  • Newspapers that may be useful for this topic:
    • Minneapolis Star-Tribune (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
    • St. Paul Pioneer Press Dispatch (an index for articles published after 1970 is located in the Hubbs Microfilm Room)
  • Check the library catalog for other materials.