Lawrence Lader

On this date in 1919, Lawrence Lader was born in New York City. He graduated from Harvard University in 1941 and later served during World War II. Lader was a writer and journalist who worked for Reader’s Digest and The New Republic and wrote many books about abortion rights. His 1966 book Abortion was among the first major works published about the then-taboo subject. It was influential in the Roe v. Wade decision: The Supreme Court cited Abortion numerous times in its decision.

Lader co-founded the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now NARAL Pro-Choice America). Lader’s other titles include The Margaret Sanger Story and the Fight for Birth Control (1955) and Bold Brahmins: New England’s War Against Slavery, 1831-63 (1973). He and his wife, Joan Summers Lader, had a daughter, Wendy.

According to Anne Nicol Gaylor, co-founder of FFRF who served with Lader on the NARAL board of directors, Lader was a freethinker. In 1987 he published Politics, Power, and the Church: The Catholic Crisis and Its Challenge to American Pluralism. Lader wrote, “The Catholic hierarchy still rejects pluralism when many of its moral beliefs and dogma are in dispute. Through legislation on divorce, school prayer, abortion, and a host of issues, it has sought to legalize its moral codes.”

Lader was awarded FFRF’s Freethought Pioneer Award in 1989 for his 1988–89 lawsuit against the Catholic Church, which asked for the church’s tax-exempt status to be removed because of its political lobbying. The lawsuit was lost on standing. He died of colon cancer in 2006.

Freedom From Religion Foundation