1962 January 1

Illinois Repeals Sodomy Law


Illinois was the first state to repeal its sodomy law and did so on this day. The repeal was part of the state’s adoption of the Model Penal Code, and so it slipped through as part of the larger law reform package. (The Model Penal Code was a project of the American Law Institute [ALI], which over the course of many decades has proposed model codes in a many areas of the law. Adoption of any model code is voluntary on the part of each state.) The Supreme Court upheld sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick, decided on June 30, 1986, but then struck down a Texas sodomy law and the remaining sodomy laws in 13 other states on June 26, 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas.

The Model Penal Code also had a significant impact on abortion law reform. The first draft, published on May 21, 1959, recommended that abortion be legal if performed in a licensed hospital in cases of rape or incest, in cases of physical abnormality, and for the protection of the physical or mental health of the mother. This recommendation was the first call for abortion law reform by a prestigious national organization.

Learn more: David A. J. Richards, The Sodomy Cases: Bowers v. Hardwick and Lawrence v. Texas (2009)

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