THE ASSOCIATION FOR THE REFORM OF OHIO ABORTION LAWS, headquartered in Cleveland Heights, was founded in 1967 and chaired by Richard A. Schwartz, MD. Schwartz was a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic, who used psychiatry and women’s mental health as an argument in favor of abortion. He claimed that “women...might commit suicide if her pregnancy is not terminated” in the Case Western Reserve Law Review in 1972.

The goal of the organization was to lobby for a shift in Ohio abortion laws to allow concessions for mothers whose lives were in danger due to dangerous pregnancies. It pre-dated the Roe v. Wade (1972) Supreme Court case, which ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment’s “right to privacy” gives the pregnant woman the choice on whether to have an abortion. Because this case had not yet been ruled on, organizations such as the AROAL joined the ranks of those advocating for abortion reform. They organized, wrote, and distributed literature to the public on the topic of abortion as a part of their public lobbying efforts. In 1988, The AROAL changed its name to the Ohio Abortion Rights League in 1988. The AROAL, however, was a rather small organization within the Cleveland area, compared, for example, with the Cleveland Abortion Rights Action League (CARAL) which was founded in 1976. CARAL later became the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of Ohio in 1994.

Grace Johnson

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