Abortion Rights Organizations Collection

Women’s Museum of California Library & Archives

 Guide to Abortion Rights Organizations


Collection Overview

Title: Abortion Rights Organizations

Accession Number: AC-037

Prepared by: Chelsey Bruns

Head Archivist: Julia Friedman

Date Acquired: Unknown

Date Processed: February 23, 2017

Location: Women’s Museum of California San Diego, CA

Language: Collection material is in English

Extent: One box and scrapbook


Administrative Information

Access Restrictions: Open to research

Use Restrictions: None


Historical Note

            Following the Supreme Court decision on Roe v Wade, pro-choice advocates had little time to celebrate as right-wing conservatives began their push back. Abortion rights organizations were crucial forces in the fight to uphold women’s rights to choice and a family’s right to determine whether to expand. As President Reagan came to power in 1981, many saw him as a president who was committed to abolishing abortion. Various legislation post-1973 sought to limit a woman’s legal right to abortion. One of the main goals of right-wing anti-choice legislators was to pass a “Human Life Amendment” to the U.S Constitution. In many of the proposed bills, right-wing lawmakers asserted that human life began at conception and held equal protection under the U.S. Constitution as any other living human. These amendments would make abortion and even certain forms of contraception murder. While some organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, were around long before legal abortion, many organizations arose out of a direct need to protect Roe v Wade in 1973. These organizations lobby congress to protect choice and provide members with various resources ranging from fact sheets and pamphlets to women’s health clinics that cater to poor and rural women.


Brief History of Abortion Organizations

            Our first organization is NARAL, founded in 1969 as the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws. Its name was then changed to National Abortion Rights Action League, and is today known as the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League or simply NARAL Pro-Choice America. Its California affiliate CARAL is also included in this collection, and is now known as NARAL Pro-Choice California. Today, NARAL organizes women and men around reproductive freedoms, lobbies congress on pro-choice issues, and helps elect pro-choice representatives.[1]

            The next organization is Catholics for a Free Choice, founded in 1973 “to serve as a voice for Catholics who believe that the Catholic tradition supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health.”[2]  This organization provided resources for Catholics who also identify as pro-choice, such as counseling, religious resources, education about contraceptives, and news from a pro-choice and Catholic perspective. Today they go simply by Catholics for Choice, yet still provide many of the same resources for pro-choice Catholics.

            Another religiously-affiliated abortion organization in this collection is the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, formerly known as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights prior to 1993. RCRC arose out of the Clergy Consultation Services, which was founded in 1967 before Roe v Wade had passed and it referred church-going women to safe abortion providers.[3] RCRC was founded in 1973 once abortion was made nationally legal. Their main goals were countering the harmful effects to choice created by religious right-wing extremist groups such as Operation Rescue and Christian Coalition, and to assert that these far-right groups did not speak for all religious people when it came to reproductive choices.

            Planned Parenthood is one of the most influential and prominent organizations not only in this collection but across the world. Founded in 1916, Planned Parenthood arose out of Margaret Sanger’s quest for a universal right for humans to have control over their reproduction. While Margaret Sanger’s intentional eugenics approach may not have been acceptable today, she paved the way for access to family planning services at a time when even talk about contraceptives was forbidden. [4] They began by providing family planning services and clinics, and have expanded to creating a PAC, Legal Defense Fund, and international affiliates to provide resources to people around the world.

            Our next organization is the Interfaith Alliance, founded in 1994 and is one of the younger organizations in this collection. The Interfaith Alliance was created “to celebrate religious freedom and to challenge the bigotry and hatred arising from religious and political extremism infiltrating American politics.”[5] Much like other religious organizations in this collection, The Interfaith Alliance worked against religious extremist organizations such as Christian Coalition who were active in dismantling choice and asserting their extreme religious views on government.

            The National Organization for Women, or NOW, is another very prominent and respected organization in this collection. It was founded in 1966 with the purpose of “[taking] action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, exercising all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men.”[6]

NOW co-founder Betty Friedan attended the Third Annual Conference of Commissions on the Status of Women in Washington, D.C. and was frustrated with the lack of action taking place, and thus set on her own path with like-minded women to form N.O.W. in order to take immediate action on women’s issues. [7] NOW not only organized grassroots involvement, but also provided members with educational resources in order to make them better activists in their communities.

            The last organization, People for the American Way, was founded by producer Norman Lear, Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and other prominent community leaders in 1981 as a response to “divisive rhetoric of newly politicized televangelists.” [8] PFAW does not take a religious affiliation, but much like the other religious organizations in this collection they condemned groups like Christian Coalition who attempted to use right-wing religious ideals to infiltrate government and thus outlaw abortion. The organization aims to defend fundamental American rights such as freedom of thought and freedom of religion, but also promote ideals such as tolerance, individuality, community, and compassion.

            Featured in this collection are photos from Struggle to Be Borne, a book and exhibit by poet Fran Adler and photographer Kira Corser. Fran Adler is a Jewish poet, educator, journalist, and nurse, who also  teaches at San Diego State University in Creative Writing. She wrote the poems that coincided with Kira Corser's photography in Struggle to Be Borne. Kira Corser is a San Diego-based photographer and has been in her field since 1978.


Summary of the Collection

            The Abortion Rights Organization consists of one box divided into ten series and a Scrapbook. The collection contains pro-choice materials from local and national organizations including NARAL, CARAL, Catholics for a Free Choice, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Planned Parenthood, The Interfaith Alliance, NOW, and People for the American Way—as well as materials not originating from any specific organization but that nonetheless tie in to the abortion rights movement. The materials from these organizations include newsletters, correspondence, member resources (handbooks, petitions, signature cards, voter’s guides, fact sheets, et cetera), flyers (for events, boycotts, meetings, demonstrations, rallies, and more), pamphlets, photos, and clippings. Most materials are from the 1980’s and 1990’s but vary based on each organization. The scrapbook contains news clippings about reproductive rights from 1965-1989. The collection also holds a selection of black and white photos from Struggle to Be Borne, a book and exhibit with Fran Adler and Kira Corser in 1987 about the importance of access to prenatal care.


Container List: Box and Folder Material

Box 1:

Series 1: NARAL

            Series 1: Box 1: Folder 1: NARAL Newsletters 1981-1996

            Series 1: Box 1: Folder 2: NARAL Correspondence

            Series 1: Box 1: Folder 3: NARAL Member Resources and Materials

Series 2: Catholics for a Free Choice

            Series 2: Box 1: Folder 4: Clipping and Correspondence

Series 3: CARAL

            Series 3: Box 1: Folder 5: CARAL Newsletters Spring 1989-Winter 1996

            Series 3: Box 1: Folder 6: CARAL Correspondence

            Series 3: Box 1: Folder 7: CARAL Membership Materials, Event Flyers

Series 4: Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights)

            Series 4: Box 1: Folder 8: RCRC Correspondence- Before 1993

            Series 4: Box 1: Folder 9: RCAR Correspondence- After 1993

            Series 4: Box 1: Folder 10: RCAR Member Resources and Materials

            Series 4: Box 1: Folder 11: RCAR Newsletters

Series 5: Planned Parenthood

            Series 5: Box 1: Folder 12: Planned Parenthood Newsletters 1985-88, 1998

            Series 5: Box 1: Folder 13: Planned Parenthood Correspondence

            Series 5: Box 1: Folder 14: Planned Parenthood Member Resources and Materials

Series 6: The Interfaith Alliance

            Series 6: Box 1: Folder 15: Correspondence

Series 7: NOW

            Series 7: Box 1: Folder 16: NOW Correspondence


Series 7: Box 1: Folder 17: NOW Member Resources, Materials, and Flyers

            Series 7: Box 1: Folder 18: NOW Articles and Clippings

            Series 7: Box 1: Folder 19: “Birth Control Bombshell” by Joan T. Casale

Series 8: People for the American Way

            Series 8: Box 1: Folder 20: Correspondence and Pamphlets

Series 9: Miscellaneous Organizations

            Series 9: Box 1: Folder 21: Pro-Choice and Abortion Resources

            Series 9: Box 1: Folder 22: Clippings and Articles

            Series 9: Box 1: Folder 23: Newsletters

            Series 9: Box 1: Folder 24: Correspondence

            Series 9: Box 1: Folder 25: Various Flyers

Series 10: Struggle to be Borne

            Series 10: Box 1: Folder 26: Photos

Series 11: Scrapbook

            Series 11: Abortion Notebook


Scope and Contents of the Materials

Series 1: Box 1

           Series 1 contains Newsletters from the years 1981-1996 from NARAL. Columns included in these newsletters are: Executive Director’s Report, Campaign Highlights, Voters Guide, Affiliates on the Move, and News. The newsletters provide members with in-depth updates on issues that members will be interested in, mainly attacks on abortion rights. The newsletters have a national scope but occasionally include local news as well.

            Series 1 also includes Correspondence sent to members between the 1980’s and 1990’s. Most are memorandums to coordinators, activists, and general members. Titles of correspondence include: “Special Update Bulletin,” “Special Alert Bulletin,” “Emergency Alert,” and “NARAL Political Action Bulletin.”  Most pieces of correspondence are signed by Executive Directors Karen Mulhauser (1975-1981), Nanette Falkenberg (1981-1985), and Kate Michelman (1985-2004). Some include reproductions of handwritten letters, telegrams, and other correspondences for NARAL members. These memorandums and bulletins provide members with concise updates on current abortion issues in order to evoke action, usually donation or membership renewal.

            Series 1 also contains NARAL Member Resources and other materials for NARAL members. These resources and materials include event flyers, facts sheets, posters, pamphlets, charts, findings by the Commission on Civil Rights, judge records, “Freedom of Choice Act” legislative summary,  excerpts of letters presented to Supreme Court case Bray v Alexandria Women’s Health Clinic, and legislative updates. Also included is Working Draft Budget through March 31, 1989 for “Millions of Voices, Silent No More” campaign event; it is unclear if this was provided to all members or to certain coordinators. These resources provide members with facts, data, and legislative information to better educate them on the topics or abortion and reproductive rights in order to help them be better activists, lobbyists, and over-all more educated.


Series 2: Box 1

            Series 2 of Box 1 contains a photocopied news clipping and correspondence for Catholics for a Free Choice. The clipping is a copy of an article from San Diego’s News Notes: by and for Lay Catholics. “San Diego Abortionists: Who They Are and How Late They Do Them” by Dan Trimly, April 1993. This clipping provides addresses and contact information of doctors in the city who perform abortions and cites how late into pregnancy they will perform them. The correspondence includes a typed letter to pro-life Jerome Lackner, California Director of Health from Brina Rae Shuckman, R.N. on behalf of Catholics for a Free Choice asking him to take a liberalized view on abortion; it also includes a response to Ms. Shuckman from Catholics for a Free Choice.


Series 3: Box 1

            Series 3 of Box 1 contains CARAL Newsletters from Spring 1989-Winter 1996. Most newsletters include the following columns: Presidential Notes, Act for Choice, Calendar, SDSU Reports, Alerts, Candidate Report Cards, Around the State, and Election Results. Some include political cartoons or comics surrounding abortion and reproductive rights. The newsletters also include various articles, generally news in legislature surrounding abortion rights and family planning.

            Series 3 also includes Correspondence from CARAL to its members, coordinators, and activists. These correspondences include: News Alerts, Activist Updates, Action Alerts, Voter’s Guides, and general breakdowns of upcoming legislation for all CARAL members. Some include political cartoons and articles reprinted from other news sources. These correspondences from CARAL to its members are intended to evoke compassion in members to renew memberships or make donations.

            Series 3 also includes various Member Materials, including merchandise order forms, donation forms, senator post cards, voter’s guides, and various flyers and pamphlets. All of these materials seem to have been available to members in the 1980’s to 1990’s.


Series 4: Box 1

            Series 4 of Box 1 includes various pieces of Correspondence from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, formerly Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights, to its members. First is Correspondence dated before 1993—prior to changing their name. These pieces of correspondence briefly detail anti-choice legislation, which usually were attacks on Roe v Wade. Often mentioned are violent attacks on clinics to evoke pathos in members. Most explain the ideals of the coalition and ask members for donations or membership renewal. Second is correspondence dated post-1993—after the organization’s name change. Included are pieces of correspondence that again explain the ideals of the coalition and how religion and pro-choice thought coexist. Also included is a “I’m Religious and Pro-Choice” bumper sticker, donation forms, and various pamphlets for the organization.

            Also included in Series 4 are Member Resources such as handbooks, guides, and other pamphlets and flyers. Handbook titles include: “We Affirm: National Religious Organizations’ Statements on Abortion Rights,” “Words of Choice,” “Abortion: A Painful Decision,” and “How We Stand.” These handbooks detail the positions of various religious organizations on the abortion issue, expose rhetoric used by religious anti-choice propagandists, and cover case studies of those involved in pregnancy and abortion counseling. The various pamphlets and flyers included also define and elaborate on the synergistic nature of religious and pro-choice thought.

Lastly, included in Series 4 are Newsletters dating before 1993 from the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights. These newsletters mainly feature original articles surrounding abortion rights from a pro-choice and religious viewpoint. Many issues also include political cartoons relating to abortion or reproductive rights.


Series 5: Box 1

            Series 5 of Box 1 includes Planned Parenthood Newsletters from the 1980’s through 1990’s. Specifically these newsletters cover Planned Parenthood News for San Diego and Riverside Counties. Most include news on current legislation, clinic updates, and pro-choice activism throughout the counties. Most are themed for the seasons. Some issues include national stories from Planned Parenthood affiliates around the country. Most, if not all, issues include a “Tips on Taxes” column that promotes charitable giving.

            Also included in Series 5 is Correspondence from Planned Parenthood and its affiliates. These various affiliates include International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region Inc.,  Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and Legal Defense Fund. The different types of correspondences included are “Action Alerts,” “Plan of Action,” memorandums, membership renewals, and donation requests. These are signed by various presidents or chairpersons including Gloria Feldt, Hernan Sanhueza, M.D. (Regional Director of IPPF/WHRI), Jane M. Johnson (interim co-president), Faye Wattleton, Pamela J. Moraldo, Dr. Walter A. Ruch OB/GYN, and Linda Joplin (PAC Chair). All of these pieces of correspondence detail anti-choice legislation and attacks on clinics in order to prompt members to donate or renew their memberships.

            Included in Series 5 are also various Planned Parenthood Member Resources and Materials. These resources and materials include various Fact Sheets provided by Planned Parenthood about abortion and pregnancy, pending legal dockets on court cases involving Planned Parenthood, reprinted articles from other news sources, and other informative pamphlets and flyers. All seem to have been available to members or to those who visited a Planned Parenthood Clinic or office.


Series 6: Box 1

            Series 6 of Box 1 includes Correspondence from The Interfaith Alliance to its members. Generally these pieces of correspondence alert members of “religious” organizations, such as Christian Coalition, who are a threat to abortion rights. Correspondences are signed by executive director Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, and usually ask members to take their surveys and donate to help their efforts.


Series 7: Box 1

            Series 7 includes Correspondence and Newsletters from NOW, the National Organization for Women. Newsletters include an issue of “Here and Now” Essex New Jersey Chapter Newsletter from Summer 1989. Correspondences included are from California NOW, Inc., San Diego NOW Chapter, and NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. These memorandums and “Special Alerts” sent to members all cover news on anti-choice attacks in legislation. Some are signed by Patricia Hrycyszyn, San Diego NOW Chapter President.

            Series 7 also includes NOW Member Resources, Materials, and Flyers. Included in these resources are Fact Sheets, Research, News Releases, and Study Kits from NOW, California Department of Health Services, NOW Reproductive Rights Task Force, Commission on the Statues of Women – San Diego County, and California NOW Legislation Office. Specifically included are Lobbying Resources such as signature cards, petitions, and general lobbying information provided by NOW. Flyers include information for events and “Volunteer for Life” consent forms which serve as a direct argument against pro-life propaganda.

            Also included in Series 7 are Articles and Clippings that have to do with NOW.  Many are photocopies of articles that mention or involve NOW. A few of the articles surround Sonia Johnson the “heretic housewife” who was a devout Mormon-turned-feminist. NOW sponsored two talks by Johnson in San Diego in 1982.

            Lastly included in Series 7 is a sample chapter written in 1978 of a proposed book about the effects that a “Human Life Amendment” to the Constitution would have, entitled “Birth Control Bombshell” by Joan T. Casale, Executive Vice President of San Diego NOW. The sample chapter begins with a fictional account of a woman who is raped, and upon examination by a physician her IUD is discovered and she is charged with attempted murder and concealing a lethal weapon. The chapter goes on to include various data and statistics about abortion, contraceptive use and availability, and the projected effects that outlawing abortions and contraceptives would have. It does not seem as though this sample chapter was ever published, but the author states in the beginning that all of the information is provided for free use.


Series 8: Box 1

            Series 8 of Box 1 includes Correspondence and a pamphlet from the organization People for the American Way. These correspondences include calls to support their efforts in fighting against right-wing extremists, and detail various anti-choice organizations, usually religiously affiliated, who are trying to pass anti-abortion laws. Correspondences are signed by Presidents Arthur J. Kropp and Tom Andrews, and also chairperson Carole Shields. The pamphlet included features media quotes about PFAW.


Series 9: Box 1

            Series 9 of Box 1 includes Pro-Choice resources from Miscellaneous Organizations. It is unclear whether these resources were from, by, or reproduced by any particular organization, or by an organization that holds its own series in this collection. Sources include Family Planning Perspectives, San Diego County Advisory Board on Women, Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Zero Population Growth. These resources include fact sheets, congress post cards, petitions, letters to and from members of congress, lobbying and activist resources, legal arguments, and event flyers.

            Also included in Series 9 are Clippings and Articles. Some articles are original, some are photocopies, and some are reprinted articles from outside news sources. Included are also local newsletters with specific news articles on abortion or reproductive rights. Sources and newsletters include: Ms. Magazine, Newsline, San Diego Union, Lear’s, Mademoiselle, New York Times, Time, Los Angeles Times, Bioscience, Psychology Today, Defending Women’s Rights Newsletter, Weal Washington Report, and Pro-Choice IDEA.

            Included in Series 9 are also Newsletters from various pro-choice sources. Most newsletters are local publications that report on reproductive rights issues such as abortion. These newsletters include ACLU Briefing Paper, Michigan Coalition for Abortion Rights, D.C. NOW, and Abortion Trends. All detail issues on abortion and other reproductive rights issues.

            Series 9 also includes Correspondence from various organizations. Organizations include Zero Population Growth, The Abortion Fund, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Women in Law Unite to Influence the Future, and National Women’s Caucus of San Diego County. All cover topics of abortion and fighting harmful legislature proposed against reproductive rights.

            Series 9 finally includes various flyers for local pro-choice events and happenings in San Diego. These include demonstrations/counterdemonstrations, rallies, celebrations, publics meetings, boycotts, and general notices related to abortion.


Series 10: Box 1

            Series 10 of Box 1 includes a selection of black and white photos from Struggle to be Borne, a book and exhibit with Fran Adler and Kira Corser. Struggle to be Borne expressed the importance of prenatal care and expanding reproductive rights and justice to poor women in San Diego. Two of the photos have titles: “Waking From Worry” 1987 Kira Corser and “Umbilicus” 1987 Kira Corser.


Series 11: Scrapbook

             Series 11 is a Scrapbook with news clippings both attached to pages and loose within an original included folder. The articles are dated between 1965 and 1989. All articles have to do with reproduction. The articles broadly cover local, state, national, and world news on the following areas: abortion, reproductive rights, family planning, current legislation and debates, birth, birth and death rates, crimes surrounding pregnancy and childbirth, contraception, morality and religion, and sterilization. Many of the articles mention abortion organizations in this collection, such as Planned Parenthood and NOW. This scrapbook seems to have been curated by Patricia Hrycyszyn, much like the rest of this collection.



[1]  “About Us,” www.prochoiceamerica.org/about-us.

[2]  “About Us,” http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/about-us/.

[3]  “History,” http://rcrc.org/history/.

[4]  “Our History,” https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-heartland/who-we-are/history.

[5]  “About Us,” http://interfaithalliance.org/about-us/.

[6]  “Statement of Purpose: The National Organization for Women’s 1966 Statement of Purpose,” http://now.org/about/history/statement-of-purpose/.

[7]  “Founding: Setting the Stage,” http://now.org/about/history/founding-2/.

[8]  “About Us,” http://www.pfaw.org/about-us/

Abortion Rights Organizations Collection