Via NYTimes:

It was a new era in Washington in 1981, and abortion rights activists were terrified.

With an anti-abortion president, Ronald Reagan, in power and Republicans controlling the Senate for the first time in decades, social conservatives pushed for a constitutional amendment to allow individual states to overturn Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court ruling that had made abortion legal nationwide several years earlier.

The amendment — which the National Abortion Rights Action League called “the most devastating attack yet on abortion rights” — cleared a key hurdle in the Senate Judiciary Committee in March 1982. Support came not only from Republicans but from a 39-year-old, second-term Democrat: Joseph R. Biden Jr.

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