The organization has had several names throughout its existence. In its establishment in 1969, it was first known as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws, then the National Abortion Rights Action League, and later the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. It is, and always has been, an organization that engages in political action to oppose restrictions on abortion and expand access to abortion itself.
The original NARAL program directed the following parts:
- Assist in the formation in all states of direct political action groups dedicated to the purpose of NARAL;
- Serve as a cleaning house for activities related to NARAL’s purpose;
- Create new materials for mass distribution which tell the repeal story dramatically and succinctly;
- Train field workers to organize and stimulate legislative action;
- Suggest direct action projects;
- Raise funds for the above activities.
Among those who founded the NARAL were abortionists Lawrence Lader and Dr. Bernard Nathanson.
Lawrence Lader was a long time reproductive rights activist, and served as a hero in the pro-choice abortion world for nearly 4 decades up until his death in 2006. He did what he could to get involved with the laws and helped repeal New York State’s law of abortion restrictions in 1970. He also attempted to sue the Internal Revenue Service to end the Roman Catholic Church’s tax exemptions, implying that its opposition against abortion had now become a political matter. He first got involved in the abortion world while writing a biography of Margaret Sanger, going over abortion laws and techniques at the time. Then by the 1950s, he thought, techniques and procedures were now much safer and more commonly used, acknowledging that it was, however, still taboo to discuss.
Dr. Bernard Nathanson was another co-founder of the NARAL and was, at one point, the director of the largest abortion clinic in the western hemisphere. He had gone through a shift on his stance – and also got involved in the law in a different way than Lader. Nathanson, at first, was a firm believer in pro-choice abortion rights and over time began to lean the other way with his views. He openly admitted to a scandal against the NARAL, misinforming the public that abortion does not murder another human being. In a statement in 2008, he admitted that, “This was the greatest mistake of my life…legal abortion was the greatest mistake this nation has ever conceived.” (Nathanson)
The link below is a short video of a statement by Dr. Nathanson:
This scandal was not taken lightly and NARAL then faced much digression. For an organization to knowingly misinform the public, and for a founder and director of an abortion clinic to shift his views so suddenly made the pro-choice world appear suspicious.
NARAL, however, never did shut down, and it never went through any trial or courts for that scandal. It is still in existence today, assisting millions of individuals facing abortion restrictions.
For more information regarding NARAL, click on this link to their homepage:
- Martin, Douglas. “Lawrence Lader, Champion of Abortion Rights, Is Dead at 86.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 09 May 2006. Web. 03 Dec. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/10/nyregion/10lader.html?_r=0>.