Women experienced both great progress and backlash throughout the 1980s under Reagan. Jobs once denied to women were being attained. However, in 1982, the Equal Rights Amendment was defeated. In addition, anti-abortion groups lobbied to prevent gains stemming from Roe vs. Wade of 1973, which gave women the right to abortion.
Throughout the 1980s, the AIDS epidemic caused particular concern. The number of victims spiked sharply, and much effort was put into research and finding a cure. It also brought attention and controversy to the gay rights movement, as well as drug abusers.
Reagan initiated staunch policies on drugs. In his "War on Drugs", Reagan increased punishments and penalties. Opposers argued his policies targeted minorities and low income citizens. Supporters of Reagan held that drug use declined dramatically. "Just Say No" became the message.
The Honorable James Avery
THE WEALTH GAP
REAGAN AND THE SOCIAL ISSUES OF THE 1980S
VOTING RIGHTS ACT OF 1965
The wealth gap between the rich and poor grew exponentially under Reagan. Such disparity had not been evident since the end of WWII. The top fifth of Americans' income increased 23% between 1980-89, while the bottom fifth rose only 9%. Wages also remained stagnant.
HOMELESS DONATIONS APPRECIATED
Under Reagan, the federal government committed itself to extending the right to vote. Throughout the 1980s, many African Americans utilized their right to vote, and many were elected to top local and state political positions. However, Reagan also appointed conservative judges less sympathetic to civil rights, and ended affirmative action programs.