Prior to the infamous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that forced abortion on the nation, abortion was illegal in a majority of states, except to save the life of the mother. At that time the decriminalization of abortion was left up to states to decide.
Laws legalizing abortions by state began in the late 1960’s as follows:
1966: Mississippi allows abortion for rape
In 1966, Mississippi altered its existing abortion law by adding rape as an indication for hospital abortion, according to the CDC’s first abortion surveillance report in 1969.
1967: Colorado becomes first state to decriminalize abortion further, followed by North Carolina and California
On April 25, 1967, Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to decriminalize abortion, along the lines proposed by the American Law Institute (ALI.) The bill was introduced by then Representative Richard D. Lamm. According to the Associated Press:
“On April 25, 1967, Colorado became the first state to allow abortion for reasons other than rape or an imminent threat to a woman’s health. The bill passed a Republican-controlled Legislature with bipartisan support and was signed into law by Republican Gov. John Love despite strong objections from many constituents…Love said the new law requires that abortions be performed only in accredited hospitals and that each operation must have the unanimous consent of a special three-man board of physicians… Colorado law previously allowed abortions only in cases presenting a severe threat to the physical health of the mother or in pregnancies resulting from forcible rape. The new law permits the ending of pregnancies presenting a severe threat to the health — mental or physical — of the mother. It allows the termination of pregnancies resulting from incest or from any of the classifications of rape — including statutory rape.”Read more here.