United States abortion-rights movement

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The United States abortion-rights movement (also known as the pro-choice movement) is a sociopolitical movement in the United States supporting the view that a woman should have the legal right to an elective abortion, meaning the right to terminate her pregnancy, and is part of a broader global abortion-rights movement. The movement consists of a variety of organizations, with no single centralized decision-making body.


Albert Wynn and Gloria Feldt on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to rally for legal abortion on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade
Abortion-rights activists before the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., at the March for Women's Lives in 2004
November 12, 1989 Washington, D.C. abortion rights march
  • Opponents of choice want to return to the time when abortion was illicit and deadly. In the meantime, they do everything possible to keep it shameful, to portray women who have abortions as immoral, inhumane, irresponsible, and frivolous. We must respond with a clear moral defense of abortion. We must remember that it is an act of violence to force an unwilling woman to bear an unwanted child. We must cultivate respect for women as moral actors who make their childbearing decisions based on profound concerns about their own lives and the lives of their families. Women make these decisions within the framework of their own religious beliefs, conscience, and values. We must stress that abortion is a responsible choice for a woman who is both unwilling to continue a pregnancy and unprepared to care for a child.
    Finally, legislators in Congress and in the states are often deluged with postcards and letters from abortion opponents, but they say repeatedly that they do not hear enough from their pro-choice constituents.
  • Parenthood is sacred, and perhaps the greatest responsibility, which is why forcing someone to be a parent against her will and better judgment should be the first definition of insanity in the dictionary. The second definition should be opposing comprehensive sex education because it will entice young people to have sex. Does installing smoke detectors encourage teens to burn the house down? Does insisting they wear seatbelts encourage them to drive 100 mph up the driveway? Numerous studies of abstinence only education find a higher pregnancy rate among teens whose only sex education was abstinence only.
    The policies promoted by the pro-choice movement dramatically reduce the abortion rate here in Illinois, across the U.S. and around the world. The policies promoted by those who call themselves "pro-life" or anti-abortion drive up the abortion rate everywhere. The results are devastating to the women, children and families of our great state. Those who are against abortion for whatever reason shouldn't have one which is why Planned Parenthood has The Cradle adoption agency at its Chicago medical facility. Personal PAC helps elect candidates who believe giving women and families all their choices is good public policy. In our great democracy, personally held religious views should be cherished by all and kept out of our policy making. If you don't believe, re-read the first paragraph and make that plane reservation.
  • Despite the polarizing rhetoric in the public debate, when given the opportunity, a significant number of Americans identify simultaneously as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” For example, 7-in-10 Americans say the term “pro-choice” describes them somewhat (32%) or very (38%) well, and nearly two-thirds of Americans simultaneously say the term “pro-life” describes them somewhat (31%) or very (35%) well.
    This overlapping identity is present in virtually every demographic group. For example, while three-quarters of Millennials identify with the term “pro-choice,” 65% also say “pro-life” describes them at least somewhat well; among seniors, nearly two-thirds identify as both pro-choice (65%) and pro-life (66%). With the exception of white evangelical Protestants, solid majorities of every major religious group say both terms describe them at least somewhat well. Eighty percent of white evangelical Protestants say the term “pro-life” describes them at least somewhat well, but still nearly half (48%) also say the term “pro-choice” describes them at least somewhat well. There is also a high degree of overlap among both women and men, with each gender group closely mirroring the general population.
    Democrats and Republicans lean in expected directions in identifying with these labels—79% of Republicans and 83% of those identifying with the Tea Party say “pro-life” describes them well, and 81% of Democrats say “pro-choice” describes them well. It is notable, however, that a majority (52%) of Republicans and those identifying with the Tea Party (51%) also say the term “pro-choice” describes them at least somewhat well, and a majority (56%) of Democrats also say the term “pro-life” describes them at least somewhat well.
  • While Americans are nearly equally divided in identifying with the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” labels, they have a clear opinion of which label is more socially acceptable in contemporary society. A majority (53%) of Americans say that it is more socially acceptable to be “pro-choice” in America today, compared to 32% who say it is more socially acceptable to be pro-life. This pattern generally holds true across most demographic subgroups, including Millennials. Majorities of Democrats (55%) and Republicans (53%), liberals (52%) and conservatives (52%), all say that being “pro-choice” is more socially acceptable today. A plurality (49%) of Catholics agree that the “pro-choice” label is more acceptable, but 39% of Catholics—higher than any other religious group—say that the “pro-life” label is more socially acceptable. This difference among Catholics is largely due to the differences between white Catholics, among whom a solid majority (57%) say the “pro-choice” label is more socially acceptable, and Latino Catholics, among whom a solid majority (61%) say the “pro-life” label is more socially acceptable. There are no significant differences in views on this question by region or community type.
    Americans who believe abortion should be legal in all cases are not any more likely than the general public to believe that being “pro-choice” is more socially acceptable (52%). On the other hand, Americans who say abortion should be illegal in all cases are more likely than the general public to say being “pro-life” is more socially acceptable (43%), although approximately the same number say being “pro-choice” is more socially acceptable (45%).
  • Securing Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
    Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We will repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides vital preventive and reproductive health care for millions of people, especially low-income people, and people of color, and LGBTQ+ people, including in underserved areas.
    Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights. We will repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom. We condemn acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, income, disability, geography, and other factors. Democrats oppose restrictions on medication abortion care that are inconsistent with the most recent medical and scientific evidence and that do not protect public health.
  • ”Republicans are going to be the ones who look like extremists," says former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, who lost his seat in 2004 after being beaten up on the abortion issue for years. That does not mean, however, that Democrats are rushing to call attention to the Republicans' dilemma. In the upcoming midterm elections, the Democrats don't plan to spend a dime on ads highlighting the abortion issue, according to Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the savvy Chicago pol who heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He wouldn't spell out the reasons, but a top party staffer (who declined to be quoted out of deference to his bosses) told NEWSWEEK: "These guys are gun-shy because they're used to getting clobbered on the issue."
    • Fineman, Howard; Evan Thomas (2006-03-20). "The GOP's Abortion Anxiety". Newsweek Politics. MSNBC. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved 2006-07-07.
  • "It is possible that, through his abortion policies, Obama has pushed the public's understanding of what it means to be 'pro-choice' slightly to the left, politically," according to the Gallup analysis. "While Democrats may support that, as they generally support everything Obama is doing as president, it may be driving others in the opposite direction."
  • The most common political labels used to identify proponents and opponents of abortion -- "pro-choice" and "pro-life" -- are roughly equally adopted by the American public. Just under half of Americans, 48%, consider themselves to be "pro-choice" while slightly fewer, 43%, call themselves "pro-life."
  • In an October 16, 1995 article in The New Republic, prominent feminist pro-choicer Naomi Wolf sent tremors through the abortion rights movement when she broke ranks by casting abortion in life and death terms, placing it within the moral context that attaches accordingly, and calling upon her fellow activists to do the same.
    Arguing for a new "pro-choice rhetoric," Wolf appeals for the termination of all euphemism and denial in the hope of securing to the pro-choice movement the essential "ethical core" that it has lacked. She believes it both a necessity and an obligation that there be "an abortion-rights movement willing publicly to mourn the evil - necessary evil though it may be - that is abortion." The movement's refusal to do so, she claims, has sacrificed a mass of political support; but more importantly, it has produced "a series of self-delusions, fibs, and evasions," forcing the men and women who are part of it to run the risk of losing what "can only be called [their] soul." For human beings, "[g]rief and respect are the proper tones for all discussions about choosing to endanger or destroy a manifestation of life."
  • In the early 1970s, most Protestant denominations did not share the Catholic Church’s view of abortion. As we have seen, mainline Protestant groups approved of liberalizing access to abortion; some approved repeal, while others endorsed variants of the “reform” position, advocating regulation on the “therapeutic model.” In this period, conservative evangelical groups did not view abortion as a categorical wrong. Even after Roe, in June 1973, Southern Baptist Convention President Owen Cooper criticized the Supreme Court for decisions liberalizing abortion—and banning capital punishment—and then proceeded to observe that the Southern Baptists would support abortions “where it clearly serves the best interests of society.” His view of abortion was far from absolute, and expressed in secular, not religious, terms.
  • One of the first national calls for a change in abortion law came in 1962 from the American Law Institute (ALI)—a prestigious panel of lawyers, scholars and jurists that develops model statutes on a range of topics—with the publication of its "Model Penal Code on Abortion," which called for abortion to be legal when the pregnant woman's life or health would be at risk if the pregnancy were carried to term, when the pregnancy resulted from rape or incest, or when the fetus had a severe defect.
    In 1967, Colorado became the first state to reform its abortion law based on the ALI recommendation. The new Colorado statute permitted abortions if the pregnant woman's life or physical or mental health were endangered, if the fetus would be born with a severe physical or mental defect, or if the pregnancy had resulted from rape or incest. Other states began to follow suit, and by 1972, 13 states had so-called ALI statutes. Meanwhile, four states repealed their antiabortion laws completely, substituting statutes permitting abortions that were judged to be necessary by a woman and her physician (see map). By 1973, when the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe, abortion reform legislation had been introduced in all but five states.
  • Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration.
  • "As Catholics, we are called by our faith to follow our conscience in all matters of moral decision making and respect the right of others to do the same. This includes the right to make decisions about abortion and reproductive healthcare."
  • The mission of the National Abortion Federation is to
    unite, represent, serve, and support abortion providers in delivering patient-centered, evidence-based care.
  • There are many reasons why people choose abortion care—and they are all good reasons.
  • NAF wants to hear about your abortion experience.
    You are not alone—one in four women will have an abortion by the age of 45. But too many people never talk about their abortion experiences. Your voice is crucial in the fight to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care.
  • In July, Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced the EACH Woman Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would eliminate the harmful and discriminatory Hyde amendment, which bans insurance coverage for abortion services in government-run health-care programs like Medicaid.
    Along with our partners at Daily Kos, CREDO, PFAW, NOW and Planned Parenthood, we gathered more than 170,000 petition signatures in support of the bill and delivered them to Reps. Lee and Bonnie Watson Coleman, another cosponsor of the bill, at their offices on Capitol Hill!
  • Pro Faith. Pro Family. Pro Choice.
    The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) is a broad-based, national, interfaith movement that brings the moral force of religion to protect and advance reproductive health, choice, rights and justice through education, prophetic witness, pastoral presence and advocacy.
    RCRC values and promotes religious liberty which upholds the human and constitutional rights of all people to exercise their conscience to make their own reproductive health decisions without shame and stigma. RCRC challenges systems of oppression and seeks to remove the multiple barriers that impede individuals, especially those in marginalized communities, in accessing comprehensive reproductive health care with respect and dignity.
    • Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. "Home".
  • Actions by President Barack Obama and his ad-ministration have been entirely predictable given his total commitment and that of his wife, Michelle, to the anti-life agenda of the abortion lobby. He began by eliminating the Mexico City policy that prohibits taxpayer funding of agencies that promote or perform abortions overseas. He is in the process of rescinding the Leavitt/Bush regulation enforcing protection of the rights of conscience of health care providers and institutions. He has removed the Bush prohibition on the use of federal taxpayer funds for research that involves the killing of human beings at the embryonic stage of development.
  • The pro-choice movement generally teaches that human life becomes a human person at various stages later in gestation. They view a woman's access to a safe and affordable abortion as a fundamental human right.
  • There is little agreement among pro-choicers as to how late in gestation elective abortions should be permitted. For example, some argue that elective abortions should be restricted after fetal viability; some place the time limit at about 26 weeks when then fetal brain’s higher function start re initiated; some would allow pregnancy termination at any time up to childbirth.
    • Religious Tolerance. [www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist1.htm "Current beliefs by various religious and secular groups"].
  • A FEW WEEKS AFTER the Supreme Court heard arguments in the “Frontiero” case, it handed down its decision in “Roe v. Wade”. A seven-justice majority held that a Texas statute banning abortion violated women’s constitutional right to privacy. An all-male Court thereby brought the power of the Constitution to affirm what by then was a passionately sought goal of the women’s movement.
  • The campaign to legalize abortion did not begin as a feminist cause, as is often assumed. The movement to legalize abortion actually dates back to the 1950s. It included a range of viewpoints, from left-liberal to conservative-although it was liberals, eventually joined by feminists who were the mainstays. Until 1967, men dominated the movement, and they continued to play a major part through the “Roe” victory and beyond.
    Lucinda Cisler, who led NOW’s work for legal abortion, acknowledged that feminists entered belatedly a movement that others started: “the abortion issue is oe of the very few issues vital to the women’s movement that well-meaning people outside the movement were dealing with on an organized basis even before the new feminism began to explode.”
  • Initially, physicians, psychiatrists, and family planning professionals sustained the campaign. For fifty years, physicians had seen illegal abortions as a threat to public health. This was one reason why the American Medical Association (AMA), a prime mover of illegalizing abortion in the nineteenth century, did an about-face and came to endorse legalization in 1970. Family planning professionals also reversed their view. In the 1910s and ‘20s birth control advocates kept the abortion issue at arm’s length, counterposing the goal of safe, available contraception to the plague of secret murders of unborn children. But in the late 1950s, a few figures from the Planned Parenthood Federation (PPF), heir to Margaret Sanger’s campaign, broke with the standard line to join with physicians concerned about the devastating effects of illegal abortion. The PPF called for laws allowing “therapeutic” abortions, to be authorized by committees of physicians upon application of a pregnant woman whose life was in danger.
  • Gallup polls suggest support for abortion rights is fading, particularly among young Americans, and that more people now regard themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.” On the other hand…the polls depend on the question. According to the Quinnipiac poll, if you ask Americans whether they agree with the Roe decision, nearly two-thirds say yes.
    This apparent incongruity is thrown into even starker relief in a 2011 PRRI survey, which allowed respondents to identify as both “pro-life” and “pro-choice.” The results showed that these labels don’t encompass the complexity of Americans’ attitudes toward abortion: 7-in-10 Americans said that “pro-choice” describes them somewhat or very well, while nearly two-thirds said the same of the “pro-life” label. Fully 43% of respondents identified as both “pro-choice” and “pro-life.”
  • Analyzing Americans’ perspectives on abortion inevitably lead to contradictions, and we’re frequently distracted by allegiance to the “pro-choice” and “pro-life” labels. If the polling data shows us anything, it’s that Americans’ complex attitudes toward abortion can’t be answered in one question. Maybe it’s time to stop trying.

"Issues and Implications, Abortion Restrictions and the Drive for Mental Health Parity: A Conflict in Values?" (June 1999)[edit]

Dailard, Cynthia (June 1999). "Issues and Implications, Abortion Restrictions and the Drive for Mental Health Parity: A Conflict in Values?". The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. 2 (3). Retrieved October 2, 2015.

  • [A] number of measures have been introduced in recent years—largely by prochoice legislators—that treat women seeking abortions for mental health reasons differently from those with physical health concerns. While these initiatives first grew out of a perceived need among many prochoice legislators for a political alternative to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, they have significant implications within the larger abortion-rights context—and beyond.
  • The debate over the health exception took on a surprising new twist, however, when prochoice legislators began seeking to exclude mental health from the equation in the context of "late" abortions. Searching for "common ground" in the debate over so-called partial-birth abortions, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) drafted the Comprehensive Abortion Ban Act, which would make all abortions after viability illegal unless continuation of the pregnancy would threaten the woman's life or "risk grievous injury to her physical health" (emphasis added). Daschle's proposal, which was offered but rejected in May 1997 as an amendment to the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, would have excluded the possibility of a postviability abortion for any mental health condition, no matter how severe. (The mental health exception is also critical because it has been the aegis under which most abortions in cases of severe fetal abnormality have been justified.)
    Just over one year later, in September 1998, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), another consistent supporter of reproductive rights, went a step further. With a bipartisan group of prochoice senators, he introduced the Late-Term Abortion Limitation Act, which incorporates Daschle's proposal, including its distinction between physical and mental health conditions, but adds another requirement—that a second physician, not involved in performing the abortion, be consulted to certify that the reason for the abortion meets the narrow requirements of the bill. Durbin is expected to reintroduce his bill again within the coming months.
  • The willingness of some prochoice members to sacrifice the mental health exception in order to appear "reasonable" in the context of the postviability abortion debate is beginning to have significant repercussions beyond that specific issue, seriously reviving a legislative attack on abortion rights that largely has been dormant for two decades. For example, the Medicaid abortion funding ban (commonly known as the Hyde amendment) has included an exception to the prohibition in cases of life endangerment since it was first enacted in 1976. Taking a predictable turn in the wake of the Daschle initiative, Hyde successfully narrowed his language in 1997 to permit abortions to be funded under Medicaid only when a woman's life is endangered by "a physical disorder, a physical injury, or physical condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy itself" (emphasis added). It had not been since the late 1970s, when the Hyde amendment in FY 1978 and FY 1979 also contained an exception for "severe and long-lasting physical health damage" (emphasis added), that the legitimacy of a mental health exception had been seriously debated and rejected.
  • In a recent Legal Times article, Janet Benshoof and Laura Ciolkowski, of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy, charge that some prochoice legislators have consciously bought into the antiabortion movement's "devaluation of women's mental health." Whether or not this is true, recent actions beg the question of why providing equitable treatment for people with mental illness is gaining currency in virtually every public policy context except abortion, where it is fast losing ground. Indeed, the voting records of the 29 senators who voted both for the Daschle amendment and on the Mental Health Parity Act highlight this troubling contradiction: 23 of those 29—all of whom were prochoice or had mixed voting records—voted in favor of the Parity Act. In other words, they took the position that in the insurance context, mental health concerns are sufficiently legitimate to warrant equitable treatment with physical health concerns but that mental health concerns can never present a sufficiently grave threat to a woman's health to justify a postviability abortion.

"Something Real: Jane and Me. Memories and Exhortations of a Feminist Ex-Abortionist" (July 25, 2011)[edit]

Johnson, Linnea. "Something Real: Jane and Me. Memories and Exhortations of a Feminist Ex-Abortionist". CWLU Herstory Project. Archived from the original on July 25, 2011. Retrieved May 23, 2010.

  • Over the years, I have become convinced that patriarchal capitalism is a system women cannot revise any more than we can "reform" water so that we might breathe it. As long as the law is male, women must be outlaws. I became an outlaw when I joined "Jane," a group of women in Chicago who, between 1969 and 1973, did more than 11,000 abortions.
    Jane, as the Abortion Counseling Service, a work group of the Chicago Women's Liberation Union, has come to be called, began in the mid-1960s when of personal necessity, a couple women friends who lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago found a couple men, representing themselves as physicians, who did good, clean abortions. In addition to referring women to decent abortionists, these women were what then was called "patient advocates". Patient advocates can be loosely defined as the unintimidated surrogate accompanying the "patient" to the "doctor's" office for the sole purpose of dislodging information relevant to that "patient" from that "doctor". That a person has a right to information about oneself did not make that information any less difficult to obtain given "standard medical practice," that stone wall behind which was kept what (often little) information was extant. The Service became one of many referral services across the United States referring women who wanted abortions to a person who could be trusted with a speculum, a dilator, and a curette.
  • By 1970 when I joined Jane, which we always called "The Service," I had begun to see that men have power though no right, to colonize women's bodies; that men have power, though no right, to make up laws which effect women and that what I could do about it this time was not again protest through lobbying, convincing, begging, litigating, demonstrating, educating, theorizing, waiting and waiting and waiting to get male intercession or permission. Instead, this time, what I could do was to act outside male law, male control, with women on our behalf. How I expressed this then was by saving that I wanted to "do something real".
  • To me, fighting for Women's Rights was not, is not, a matter of asking or of educating the patriarchs--at parties or anywhere else. Appealing to members of the same group who maintain the custom of precluding rights was then, is now, simply a bad idea.
    "Something real" is how I characterized what I wanted to do. I asked a woman who was standing next to me at the NOW meeting, "Is there anything real going on in Chicago for women? This cocktail party stuff is ridiculous. I want to do something real". She chuckled, as I remember it, and asked for my phone number saying she'd call me in a week or two. I thought, sure, right, but then she did call and she invited me to a meeting of women about abortion, "if you're still interested". I said that if it were to be about making cocktails while lobbying for abortion rights, I wouldn't be interested. She said it wasn't like that.
  • The evening in 1970 I attended my first meeting of the Abortion Counseling Service, fifteen or so white and Semitic women were gathered at someone's house. I remember sitting on the floor wondering what exactly was going on. Eventually, I remember it dawning on me; I remember thinking, "These women are talking about DOING abortions". I hoped that what I surmised was correct, that, indeed, no one in this group would ask me to write to congress, to lobby, to convince anyone of anything, or to wait; maybe I was going to be able to do something real. Doing abortions with the Service has always felt that way to me: real. It is the best work I ever did.
  • Virtually every woman, heterosexual and lesbian, contemplates the possibility (or understands the importance) of abortion. At the beginning of the Service, the Hyde Park women would schedule abortions with the abortionists one day per week. Always, more women need abortions than can find ways to have abortions, so, at some point between 1967-l97O, the women and the one (sometimes two) abortionist(s) began working two days per week. Even at $4OO-5OO per abortion (every cent of which the man kept) these good, illegal abortions became the abortions of choice in Chicago.
    Eventually and so that the man who wore a white coat and called himself a doctor could concentrate on the "medical"/ medicalized/"technical"/"important" aspects of abortion, and could, therefore, do more abortions per workday, the women began "assisting". "Assisting" was, at first, finding and equipping a workspace: then, gradually, it became that and giving the pre-abortion injection (of the antibiotic) tetracycline; then it became placing the speculum; then finding, holding onto (with a tenaculum), and swabbing the cervix (with the antiseptic Betadyne). Cleaning the blood off the women having abortions and off the bed on which the abortions were done was an early and constant part of assisting. When what the "doctor" had to do was walk into a room in which lay a calm, well-informed woman who wanted an abortion, what he would do would be to anaesthetize the cervix (with xylocaine), dilate the cervix/os curette the uterus, and then walk on to the next similar situation; his time spent per woman dropped and he was consequently convinced to reduce his charge to $275 per abortion (every cent of which he himself kept).
    Besides assisting, however, what the women came to learn was that the abortionist was not a doctor. Without that mystique of "doctorness" abortion became what it is (and what most other forms of "medicine"/healing actually are a series of things to do carefully, most of which the women were already doing. The simple deduction was profound; if he can do abortions, we can do abortions.
  • From 1971, when the women began doing most of the abortions and sometimes hiring male abortionists to work with them/us, the charge per abortion became $100, or what the woman determined she could afford. The average amount paid was about $40 per abortion, with everyone having an abortion paying something. By the Spring of 1973, when Jane mostly folded (after the January 1973 Roe v. Wade US Supreme Court decision and the appearance of the first "legal" abortion clinics in Chicago), we worked 3 days per week doing 25-30 abortions per day--about 80 per week.
    From the money we charged for abortions, we deducted our supplies, phone and laundry bills. When Jane women were doing most of the abortions, we decided to pay (by the day) the women abortionists (abortionists who held the instruments--mostly, all of us in Jane thought of ourselves as abortionists) and the Jane who organized the phone messages onto 3x5 cards.
    From my talk with other former Janes over the years, I know now there was debate over these pay decisions then, but I don't recall that. Some women remember bitter arguments over a possible loss of altruism should any of us pay ourselves for our work; some women remember arguing about "volunteerism" and not seeming to value our own work if we didn't pay ourselves; some women argued about creating an hierarchical pay scale--and how could we avoid it and who should be paid...
  • Women found our phone number in a variety of ways--from underground/movement papers and bulletin boards in universities and Laundromats; from a friend, physician, clergy, or cop. Women got our phone number from the mother of a friend or from her own mother, oncologist, co-worker, pusher, social worker, or father. Illegal and legal, out of state and in, overt and covert sources passed along our phone number to women.
    Remember that fewer than a hundred or so years ago women had not yet been culturally organized/trained to go to men for any such thing as to have an abortion. Before "professionalization" and "medicalization" (predicated on institutionalized male power) women's bodies were literally in the hands of other women: physicians were little more than grave robbers, dentists with an attitude, barbers with extra straight razors/scalpels, and ghouls.
  • In the early 1970s, there were phone numbers other than ours floating around: phone numbers good for a day or two, a week, maybe a year or two: phone numbers connecting women to masked quacks in Chicago, docs on the take in Detroit, guys working themselves through bartending or medical school or out the back of a van in California, St. Louis, and Weehawken. Phone numbers connected women to opportunists in Florida and to fly-by-nighters in Queens, and here and there was a phone number of a reliable someone working alone or in sync with conscience. With most of the abortionist-profiteers, women would find themselves blindfolded, blindsided, picked up on corners, bound to secrecy or to a kitchen table or motel coffee table. Often, others would do abortions too quickly and without anesthesia, compassion, the exchange of names, or so much as a hello, women finding themselves dumped back at some train station or onto a remote street corner without follow-up, friends, recourse, or information, and out several hundred dollars whether the abortion was complete or not, antiseptic or not, successful or not.
  • Several times a day, whomever was "Janeing" took messages from the tape, writing the information onto 3x9 cards she'd then take to our weekly meetings, the business of which, primarily, was to disperse the cards among the dozen or twenty women working any given week. We chose cards idiosyncratically, noting some similarity or difference in circumstance, neighborhood, ethnicity, or blood factor between ourselves and the name of the woman on the 3x5 card.
    Calling back the phone numbers of the women on the cards, we'd find out that some of the women had already gotten an abortion elsewhere, some had gotten their period, some had given birth, kept it or given it up, and didn't want or need to speak with us. Some women had died. Some women were bleeding or had tubes or gauze or rags stuffed into their uterus; they needed advice, referral to a physician who wouldn't injure them further or turn them in, or advice on what they could do for themselves just then. Some phone numbers had been incorrectly given or received. Some women couldn't talk then but could they call us back some midnight from untraceable pay phone to untraceable pay phone. Often, a boyfriend or father called trying to arrange things for or in spite of the woman whose name, along with his number, he'd left on the Jane tape. However, most often, the woman whose name I had on the 3x5 card talked to me herself and was eager to meet so that I could describe and we could discuss the abortion she'd called to initiate.
  • Towards the close of my one-to-one meetings with the women who wanted abortions, I would write down the date, time, and address of her appointment; I'd write down my phone number, too, in case she had questions or problems after her abortion. I said I wouldn't call her unless the Pap test we'd do prior to the abortion was inconclusive or abnormal.
    The address I'd write down would get her to the "Front," the apartment at which she (and a friend, if she chose) would wait before and to which she'd return after the abortion. Another one of the Service women, another Jane, would drive her and a group of other women wanting abortions, room the Front to the second apartment, the "Place," where she would have the abortion. Only Jane women and women having abortions would be at the Place.
  • Both the Front and the Place were someone's apartment or house. We would volunteer our apartments or houses as we could. Our lives were in evidence in the photos and books on our shelves, the Melmac, teddy bears, or vibrator overlooked in a dining room or bedroom; the glass beads in the doorway, Joplin poster on the wall; in the sheets on our beds on which the abortions were done. The Service used some of the money collected from doing abortions to pay for the Places' laundry to be done professionally; I and many of the rest of the Janes used our best sheets on days our homes were being used as the Place.
    At the Place we checked the information on the 3x9 cards again with the women whose information it was. Whenever we were asked if we were doctors, we said, "NO. We are not doctors. We are abortionists". None of the women who did those 11,000 abortions had been medically schooled.
  • We women in Jane learned how to do abortions from one another, as peer-apprentices, though no one called it that. Our home-done abortions had a lower infection rate (about 2%) than do most hospital surgeries. We killed no one, a fact which contrasts with what happened when legislators legalized abortion allowing physicians who had not necessarily ever been trained to do abortions, to do abortions. Quite simply, women died from legal abortions because the law granted authority (to physicians) without regard to proficiency. Similarly, those without license are not granted legal authority to do abortions, without regard to proficiency, the test for what is "legal" having to do with power and who has (granted themselves) the right to wield it. I have always been amazed at how relatively simple the physical process of performing abortions is, how readily it is learned; what keeps most of us away from that realization is that closed guild which is organized medicine.
  • It was at the South Side apartment that seven of us were busted on the May day in 1972 that J. Edgar Hoover finally died. Neither the Chicago Police nor the Outfit/Mafia had previously bothered us though each knew of our work: we were clean, damn good, and made too little money to interest them.
    From all accounts, what happened to cause the bust was that the police, who reputedly knew and had known about us and who had photos of us at various political demonstrations and at our various residences over time, had been hounded by a Catholic sister-in-law of a woman who had chosen to have an abortion. The cops had put her off, apparently, but she was persistent and outraged that abortions could be going on at all and further outraged at the cops' reaction, or lack thereof, to her complaint.
    The cops took everyone around that day, scooping up people first at the Place, then, at the Front--friends, boyfriends, mothers--there must have been a couple dozen people busted in mid-afternoon who didn't get tossed into jail until midnight. Seven Service women were charged with "battery" and the like. All charges were subsequently dropped ostensibly because the law was changed (Roe v. Wade, 1973) although the law never changed enough to "allow" non-physicians to do abortions.
  • The arrest was one of several points during the history of the Service when women dropped out. For instance, when the male abortionists were "found out" many of the women in the Service said. something like "They're not doctors!" and while some of us had a look of panic, horror, or terror on our faces, others, like me, smiled broadly saying it. Just after the bust I remember a discussion in which some women asked if we should continue doing abortions. I was impatient with talk like that. The arrests changed nothing for me; our doing abortions was (still) both right and illegal.
    When Jane finally did disband (late 1973), after abortion was effectively "legalized," we unconsciously made the same error that the Suffragists had made after Suffrage had been "granted" in the US: we thought we'd won, changed something, that someone somewhere was wising up, seeing the light. But what we did was to remand women back into the realm of male law, male custom, medical custody. Bad idea then as now.

“Who We Are” Catholics for Choice[edit]

Jamie Manson, “Who We Are”, Catholics for Choice

  • Since 1973, we’ve worked in the United States and across the world to ensure that all people have access to safe and affordable reproductive health care services and to infuse our core values into public policy, community life and Catholic social thinking and teaching. We believe that reproductive freedom is Catholic social justice value. We work to dismantle religiously-based obstructions to abortion care, contraceptive access and comprehensive health care, particularly because these barriers disproportionately affect people of color, the poor and the vulnerable.
  • What we do
    We shape and advance sexual and reproductive ethics that are based on justice, reflect a commitment to a person’s well-being and respect and affirm the capacity of all people to make moral decisions about their lives.
  • What We Believe
    We strive to be an expression of Catholicism as it is lived by ordinary people. We are part of the majority of the faithful in the Catholic church who disagrees with the dictates of the Vatican on matters related to sex, marriage, family life, and motherhood.
    We believe in a world:
    Where all people are trusted to make moral decisions about their lives.
    Where the poor and vulnerable are not disproportionately harmed by ideological battles over reproductive rights.
    Where the decision to start a family is thoughtful and planned.
    Where policymakers and advocates are free to support policies that create a more just and compassionate society.
    Where life-saving health interventions aren’t blocked by sectarian interests.
    Where abortion is safe, legal, and truly accessible, and both contraception and child care are available and affordable.
  • "Even after 50 years, our work at Catholics for Choice is as urgent as ever. When Catholic doctrine is used to deny basic and adequate healthcare to the most vulnerable, the consequences are devastating. Women and other marginalized genders are suffering at the hands of the Catholic hierarchy, the most radical patriarchy in the world, and we have a moral obligation to fight back."

"About". NARAL Pro-Choice America.[edit]

  • Who we are
    The 2.5 million members of NARAL Pro-Choice America fight for reproductive freedom for every body. Each day, we organize and mobilize to protect that freedom by fighting for access to abortion care, birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination.
    Like 77% of Americans, we believe in the legal right to abortion. We are the foot soldiers who work to ensure that abortion access is not only protected but expanded. Since 1969, our member-driven campaigns have propelled political and cultural change at every level, from the statehouse to the White House.
    When it comes time to rally by the thousands on the steps of the Supreme Court in support of abortion access, our members are there.
    When it comes time to push back against the disinformation and fear peddled by anti-choice extremists who want to take away our freedom, our members are there.
    And when it comes time to hold political leaders accountable at the ballot box, our members are there.
    Working together, we push our friends to be bolder, lift up the champions fighting for true reproductive freedom, and shine a spotlight of accountability on the bad actors trying to impose their unpopular and out-of-touch agenda on us all.
  • What we do
    Organize our 2.5 million members, and the allies around us, to make sure leaders at every level hear from their constituents—the 7 in 10 Americans who support our right to reproductive freedom.
    Educate citizens, lawmakers, and other influencers about the dangerous effects of anti-choice policies and the threat of anti-choice disinformation.
    Work at the state level to promote progressive, proactive policies to advance reproductive freedom and fight back against harmful restrictions that threaten our access to reproductive healthcare and the ability to make our own decisions about pregnancy.
    Fight to elect champions who don’t just agree with the 77% of Americans who support the legal right to abortion, but truly fight for reproductive freedom. And when anti-choice candidates threaten to take away our rights, we work to hold them accountable by defeating them at the ballot box.
  • Mindful of the horrors of back-alley abortions and fueled by a strong conviction that women’s personal reproductive-health decisions are theirs alone, NARAL’s foundation arm gives voice to the 7 in 10 Americans who believe that abortion should remain legal and accessible.
    With more than 2.5 million member activists representing every state in the union, we are on the front lines of the fight to preserve and expand reproductive freedom and abortion access in the 21st century. We believe in the power of people to make a difference, and we help to drive that positive change by educating Americans about the threats to reproductive freedom and holding bad actors accountable at every level.
    Together, we can ensure an environment that guarantees every woman the right to informed and empowered choices.
  • What we do
    Fight against anti-choice attacks and hold bad actors accountable at the national and local levels, while working to protect and expand reproductive freedom and abortion access across the country.
    Educate about the issues affecting our reproductive freedom, and the impact they have on the lives of women and families. This includes our annual flagship publication, Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the United States.
    Organize, mobilize and grow our activist and supporter base to ensure officials at all levels of government hear from the people they represent.
    Shift the cultural discourse around abortion access specifically, and reproductive freedom generally, to end the stigma and shame that some place on basic health services and that hinder women from accessing the care they need.
  • Now more than ever, we need pro-choice champions at all levels of government who will stand up and fight for the values that Americans hold dear. Amidst unprecedented attacks on the right to access basic reproductive healthcare, we need leaders who will not only oppose the torrent of anti-choice restrictions that cut off access to care, but to advance and expand access for all Americans.
    That’s why NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC endorses pro-choice champions and challengers in federal and state races across the country. Roe v. Wade is very much at stake. And given the constant attacks we’ve seen in Congress and in state legislatures over the past few years, we cannot afford to give one inch in the coming battles. We must harness the power of the 7 in 10 Americans who support a woman’s right to choose and translate that consensus into victories at the ballot box.

“The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict” (1994)[edit]

Staggenborg, Suzanne (1994). “The Pro-Choice Movement: Organization and Activism in the Abortion Conflict”, Oxford University Press US. ISBN 0-19-508925-1.

  • The social movement that became known as the “pro-choice” movement originated in the 1960s as a loose coalition of women’s movement, single-issue “abortion” movement, and population movement activists and organizations. Paradoxically, the movement achieved its most spectacular victory-the legalization of abortion in 1973-before pro-choice forces became very well organized or powerful.
    • Introduction, p.3
  • After the legalization of abortion, the balance of power shifted. One of the unfortunate side-effects of victory is that it often provokes opponents into action while the victors may be lulled into complacency. ‘’Roe v. Wade’’ was indeed a powerful stimulus for the anti-abortion countermovement, which grew enormously after 1973. Contrary to popular belief, however, the pro-choice movement did not simply fold up shop after 1973, only to revive again in the late 1970s. The pro-choice coalition was too diverse, and the reaction of the countermovement too swift, for that to have happened. The movement was, however, forced into a reactive stance as the countermovement began to shape the pro-choice agenda. Countermovement activities precluded the adoption of broader goals and tactics, which might have been pursued following the victory of 1973, but they also prevented the decline of the pro-choice movement, which might also have occurred after the victory. Instead, the pro-choice movement began to lay the organizational groundwork that would enable it to become a long-term single-issue defender of legal abortion.
    It was after the countermovement achieved its first major victories, beginning with Congressional passage of the Hyde Amendment banning Medicaid funding of abortion in 1976,that the pro-choice movement received the spur it needed in order to expand. At the same time, the countermovement was also encouraged, rather than lulled, by its partial victories, and the movement continued to be limited in its strategic and tactical options by the need to respond to countermovement initiatives. Despite the growth in the late 190s of a “reproductive rights” component of the pro-choice movement that favored direct-action tactics and attempted to promote a broad definition of reproductive “choice,” the movement as a whole did not broaden its objectives and repertoire of collective action. Rather, the goals of the movement became increasingly narrow in response to the single-issue countermovement.
    • p.4
  • Despite its ups and downs, the pro-choice movement has remained continually mobilized since its 1973 victory. A major argument of this book is that the movement has been able to maintain itself and grow in strength since the legalization of abortion by acquiring professional leadership and formalized organizational structures. In part, this transformation was necessary because the protest movements of the 1960s that had nourished the abortion movement prior to legalization were declining. Whereas the strength of the “social movement sector” helped compensate for organization deficits in the movement before legalization, by the late 1970s the pro-choice movement had to develop stronger organizational structures to compensate for the demise of other social movements, notably the women’s liberation and population movements, which had previously provided grass-roots support for the abortion movement. This strengthening of the pro-choice organizations was made possible in part by the legitimacy created for the movement by the “Roe v. Wade” victory and in part by the threats created by the anti-abortion countermovement. Contrary to some theories of what happens to movements when they become “institutionalized,” however, these developments actually facilitated, rather than hindered, the growth of grass-roots movement activities.
    • pp.4-5
  • When it began in the 1960s, the movement to legalize abortion “was just a brave tiny army.” There were no large national organizations with professional staffs advocating legal abortion. Nevertheless, a movement did shape and in 1973 abortion became legal throughout the United States. How did this social movement emerge, and what did it look like before “Roe v. Wade”?”
    An “insider” model of social movements would predict that the movement arose from within established institutions, with support from elites, or that professional movement organizers engineered the movement. After legalization of abortion, as we shall see, the movement did indeed develop professional leader-ship and formalized organizational structures, which played a major role in maintaining the pro-choice movement. But before “Roe v. Wade”, the movement relied much more on the challenging groups of the 1960s, including the women’s movement, than on the world of established interest groups. Nevertheless, the movement was not a complete “outsider” to the established political process. The abortion movement mobilized both grass-roots constituents activated by other movements of the 1960s and individuals with many years of experience in established political and voluntary organizations.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, p.13
  • If physicians, along with other professionals, did lead the crusade to legalize abortion in the 1960s, this would indeed be ironic, given their role in making abortion illegal in the United States in the nineteenth century (se Mohr, 1978). Physicians did change their stance toward abortion in the twentieth century, as they were no longer threatened by “irregular” competitors and now had an interest in reforming abortion laws that interfered with their ability to make medical decisions about abortion. As early as the 1930s, there were doctors and family-planning advocates interested in changing the abortion laws, but few called for radical changes in the laws, and no movement for legalization emerged at that time (see Francome, 1984:74-76). Discussions of abortion in the 1940s and 1950s were quite cautious, and deliberately conservative appeals were made to doctors and lawyers by abortion law reform advocates such as Harold Rosen, who in 1954 published “Therapeutic Abortion”, a collection of essays calling for greater freedom for doctors to make decisions about abortion, and Glanville Williams, who in 1957 similarly appealed to the interests of lawyers in “The Sanctity of Life and the Criminal Law” (Olasky, 1988-89:17-18). Some articles suggesting needed reforms were also published in professional journals in the 1950s, and several conferences on abortion were held, including one sponsored by Planned Parenthood that called on the American Law Institute to study the abortion laws (Francome, 1984; Rubin, 1987). The American Law Institute (ALI) subsequently drafted a model abortion law allowing for therapeutic abortions under limited conditions as part of a Model Penal Code intended to standardize state criminal laws. A draft of the recommendations was released in 1959, and a final version of the Model Penal Code was adopted by the ALI in 1962. The ALI recommendations became the basis for a number of limited reforms of abortion laws enacted by state legislatures in the 1960s.
    This sequence of events seems to support the view that the movement to legalize abortion originated within professional associations and other established organizations. The difficulty with this explanation, however, is that it fails to take into account the role of external events in pulling doctors and other professionals into the abortion controversy. Moreover, the support that established interest groups and organizations did provide, particularly in the early years of the movement, was quite limited. Dissatisfaction with the limited actions and policies of these groups forced those who wanted significant change in the abortion laws to build a movement outside the established power structure.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, pp.13-14
  • Support for abortion law reform among professionals and professional associations was very quiet in the 1950s and early 1960s, receiving little media attention (cf. Tatalovich and Daynes, 1981:34). Reform efforts might have remained practically invisible were it not for two events that created unexpected opportunities by generating media attention and public support for abortion law reform. The first, in 1962, was the highly publicized case of Sherri Finkbine, a woman who attempted to get a legal abortion in the United states after learning that she had taken thalidomide, a drug that caused fetal deformity, and who ended up having an abortion in Sweden. The incident touched off nationwide concern about thalidomide as well as a debate over abortion (see Faux, 1988:42-51; and Tatalovich and Daynes, 1981:44-46, for detailed accounts). The second “event” was an epidemic of rubella measles in the United states in the early 1960s, a disease that can cause fetal deformity when contracted bya pregnant woman. Both events influenced public opinion toward reform of the abortion laws and gave impetus to the movement (cf. Lader, 1973; Rubin, 1987; Steinhoff and Diamond, 1977; Tatalovich and Daynes, 1981). As Luker (1984:80-81) argued, these events forced doctors to confront differences within their profession over abortion, causing some of the more liberal doctors to support reform of the abortion laws.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, p.14-15
  • The medical community did become involved in lobbying for abortion reform laws in a number of states (Mohr, 1989). However, most professional associations endorsed limited reform rather than total repeal of the abortion laws, and support for the movement from established organizations like Planned Parenthood was slow in coming. IN 1967 the American Medical Association (AMA) endorsed the ALI model of reform, and in 1968 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists endorsed the same model of limited reform (Tatalovich and Daynes, 1981:53-58). The AMA debated the repeal position in 1970, the year in which four states passed very liberal abortion bills, but, because of divisions among its members on the issue, ended up adopting a position short of repeal, although more liberal than the ALI model 9Tatalovich and Daynes, 1981:56). In 1968 the American Public Health Association became the first professional organization to take a repeal rather than a reform position. Other professional associations, including the American Bar Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, also eventually endorsed repeal in the early 1970s, after the repeal movement had been active for a number of years. Planned Parenthood, the leading family-planning organization, did not vote to endorse abortion law repeal until 1969 and gave little organizational support to the movement before the legalization of abortion (Lader, 1973:84). The board of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) endorsed abortion law repeal in 1967 (Walker, 1990), but the New York Civil Liberties Union was much more active than was the national organization in the years before legalization.
    An organization devoted to the single issue of abortion, the Association for the Study of Abortion (ASA), was formed as a result of the professional interest in abortion but, again, was notable for its limited approach. ASA was found in 1964 by Dr. Alan Guttmacher of Planned Parenthood as an educational association consisting largely of doctors, lawyers, and other professionals. Although “national in its outlook, ASA was based in New York and consisted of only about twenty active members (interviews with Lawrence Lader, 1984). The organization initially advocated reform, rather than repeal, of the abortion laws, and its activities consisted largely of publishing and distributing educational materials and supporting research projects on abortion.
    ASA was important in lending “prestige and authority” to the abortion reform cause int eh eary years when this was badly needed (Lader, 1973:58). The organization did eventually come around to the repeal position and played an essential role in the effort to legalize abortion.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, p.15
  • Although established interest groups and organizations of professionals were not the entrepreneurs of the abortion movement, they did play an important role in bringing together activists who were interested in abortion and frustrated by the limited activity of existing organizations. A number of early repeal activists were volunteers or staff in family-planning organizations like Planned Parenthood who, in dealing with women seeking abortions became concerned about the issue. Through their firsthand experience, these activists were acutely aware that limited reform of the abortion laws, as opposed to repeal, would not meet women’s need for access to abortion.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, p.16
  • In Illinois and elsewhere, the abortion movement was initiated by a small number of activists who were in no way “outsiders” to their communities and their organizations Rather, they were persons with extensive experience in professional, political, and voluntary organizations who recruited other “solid citizens” to join them. But the new movement did not speak for powerful established interest groups such as the AMA or even Planned Parenthood. The entrepreneurs of the movement were volunteers, albeit experienced ones, who formed new organizations and who needed grass-roots constituents from outside established interest groups.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, pp.17-18
  • Although a few politically experienced individuals helped start the abortion movement, its success was very much dependent on the cycle of protest under way in the 1960s. Other social movements in the expanded social movement sector of the period aided the mobilization of the abortion rights movement in several ways. The civil rights movement was an important precursor that generated social activism among liberal churches and clergy and offered tactical models to numerous other movements, including the abortion movement. Women, college students and other young people who were activated by earlier movements of the 1960s became the grass0roots constituents of the movement of legalize abortion. The family-planning, population,, and women’s movements directly aided mobilization by providing organizational bases and constituents for the abortion movement.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, p.18
  • A number of individuals who became active in NARAL were also active, previously or simultaneously, in population organizations like the Association for Voluntary Sterilization (AVS) and Zero Population Growth (ZPG). Lawrence Lader, for instance, had served on the executive committee of AVS and on the board of ZPG (Lader, 1973). Other early NARAL activists, including Ruth Proskauer Smith and Beatrice McClintock, had previously worked together in the Association for Voluntary Sterilization as well as in the Association for the Study of Abortion (Nathanson, 1979:48) and in Planned Parenthood. While population groups like AVS contributed some activists, others, notably ZPG, became active participants in the repeal campaign.
    ZPG was organized in 1968 and took an abortion repeal position in 1969, after the founding of NARAL and possibly as a result of overlapping memberships. Althougha repeal position on abortion was considered consistent with ZPG’s goal of bringing down the birthrate, there was some internal debate as to how active ZPG should be on the abortion issue. ZPG’s leadership consisted of both individuals concerned primarily with family-planning issues and persons who identified primarily with the environmental movement. The former pushed ZPG’s involvement in the repeal effort, whereas the latter were concerned that ZPG maintain a broader perspective. For example, ZPG executive director Hal Seielstad was an environmentalist who expressed concern in 1972 that “many people think of ZPF solely as an advocate of abortion” even though “the question of abortion is a minor one in the entire program of achieving zero population growth in this country (ZPF “National Reporter”, June 1972).
    But despite one executive director’s warning that ZPG should “not neglect the other goals and become largely identified in the public mind with this one issue” (ZPG “National reporter”, June 1972), ZPG was fairly active in the repeal movement before legalization for several reasons. First, as already noted, in this period there were a number of activists among ZPG’s leaders concerned mainly with family planning. Because organizations like Planned Parenthood were not heavily involved in the abortion movement at the time, these activists had few other organizations through which to work for abortion repeal. Second, the movement for legal abortion was very small during this period and so needed ZPG’s help Third, and probably most important, ZPG’s real strength at the time was in its local chapters, man of which had student constituencies. IT was the local ZPG chapters that became the most highly involved in the nascent abortion repeal movement, in some areas as the only organized representatives of the nascent abortion movement. It also is noteworthy that the local chapters were completely autonomous from the national organization, allowing grass-roots activists to influence organizational activities.
    • Ch.2 The Emergence of the Movement, pp.18-19
  • At the same time that the single-issue “abortion movement” was beginning to take shape, the women’s movement was also reemerging. The National Organization for Women (NOW) was founded in 1966 and endorsed abortion repeal at its second national convention in 1967. The endorsement was not a foregone conclusion and, in fact, provoked considerable conflict within the “older branch” women’s movement organization. At the tie, abortion had not yet been defined as a “women’s rights” issue, causing concern among a number of NOW members that the position would hurt NOW’s credibility. However, NOW founder Betty Friedan, who was an old friend of Lawrence Lader’s from their common backgrounds in journalism, strongly supported adoption of the repeal plank. According to Jean Faust, a NOW activist interviewed by Lader, Friedan was backed by younger NOW members:
    The professional women demanded we concentrate on economic goals-they were scared of harming the organization’s dignity with abortion and sex. It was the kids, and not just the New York bloc, who led the fight. Kids from Michigan, Ohio, and Texas kept standing up and shouting, “We’ve got to have an abortion plank.” We pushed it through finally, but a lot of delegates resigned. (quoted in Lader, 1973:37)
    NOW’s participation in the abortion movement was, for several reason, limited in the early years. The abortion issue was controversial, and not all chapters were willing to tackle it. Moreover, many NOW members and chapters were preoccupied with economic issues in the 1960s and early 1970s. And perhaps most important, the national organization lacked the kind of structure necessary to promote grass-roots participation on the issue. The organization did form a national committee to deal with abortion, but, like other national task forces and committees, committee chairs had to operate with very few resources. Communication channels were not well established in the organization, and national coordinators had a difficult time getting in touch with the chapters. As Lana Clarke Phelan, who served as coordinator of NOW’s national task force on abortion prior to 1973, recalled in a 1984 interview:
    NOW was so loosely grouped at that time. There was no networking. There were phone calls for those that could afford them and plane tickets to meetings for those that could afford them,, but no regular communication. And of course, as more members and chapters came into NOW there were more internal factions. Now that NOW is a big organization, of course, everything has changed.
    • p.20
  • Some NOW chapters were highly involved in the repeal cause. The New York chapter was particularly active and spawned New Yorkers for Abortion Law Repeal in 1968 to coordinate NOW abortion repeal work. But other chapters took little interest int eh abortion issue. Lucinda Cisler, another pre-1973 national NOW abortion committee coordinator, commented in an interview that she thought some chapters wanted abortion removed from NOW’s “Bill of Rights for Women” because it made their work on other issues more difficult and that some chapters had a difficult time finding a coordinator for a local abortion committee.
    • p.20

"The surprising history of abortion in the United States” (2013-01-17)[edit]

Steenland, Sally, "The surprising history of abortion in the United States”. CNN. (2013-01-17).

  • It may be surprising for some to find out that in the years before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in its landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, clergy were among the staunchest supporters of women seeking an abortion. Twenty-one ministers and rabbis created the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, an underground network that counseled women and led them to compassionate, competent doctors who provided abortion care. Although the network had only a handful of clergy at first, it grew to about 1,400 clergy operating on the East Coast during the 1960s to serve women from across the nation.
    Rev. Howard Moody -- who was born in Texas, lived in New York, and died in 2012 at age 91 -- created the network and considered it one of his most important ministries. Women "came from all over the country," he told an interviewer in 2001. "They came by plane and train, and bus, and car." Women were desperate and needed help. "It was the most humiliating, frightening prospect for women that you can imagine," Moody said. He'd seen women die from botched illegal abortions and was stirred by compassion to help them.
  • A few years after the Roe decision, a number of religious organizations voiced support for the decision, even as they acknowledged the moral complexity of abortion and honored the sanctity of life. Their views were articulated in an ecumenical study document on abortion published in 1978 and discussed in a recent article on AlterNet.
    In the study document, American Baptist Churches said that, "Abortion should be a matter of personal decision." The American Lutheran Church agreed, recognizing the "freedom and responsibility of individuals to make their own choices in light of the best information available to them and their understanding of God's will for their lives."
    The Church of the Brethren voiced support in the document for women who, "after prayer and counseling, believe abortion is the least destructive alternative available to them." The Brethren took this position so that women could "make their decision openly, honestly, without the suffering imposed by an uncompromising community."
    What is even more surprising than the nuanced views of these faith communities, however, is the early support for Roe from the Southern Baptist Convention. Although they are currently among the fiercest opponents of abortion, Southern Baptists supported the 1973 ruling. From their early days, Southern Baptists have been fervent believers in religious liberty and saw Roe v. Wade in this light. If the government could tell a woman what to do with her body, they reasoned, it could also tell Baptists what they could -- or couldn't -- do with their religion.
    How things have changed. In the early 1980s, the Republican Party wooed and won the support of millions of religious conservatives, and those nuanced theological truths got buried under a political campaign that claimed God-driven opposition to abortion. Conservatives even altered texts of the Bible to fit their rigid antiabortion stance.
  • The 1978 ecumenical study document articulated the inherent value of the fetus and the importance of reducing the need for abortion. It also held up values of humility, freedom, justice, balance, compassion and responsibility.
    As we envision a future of health and reproductive justice for all women, those values are more important than ever. We can add to them the words of a just-released affirmation on faith and reproductive justice from CAP's Faith and Reproductive Justice Leadership Institute. It is a credo of belief in the dignity of all God's people and a pledge to act -- individually and collectively -- so that all women can flourish and fulfill their God-given potential as individuals and as parents.

"Abortion Reform in Washington State - HistoryLink.org" (2017)[edit]

Cassandra Tate, "Abortion Reform in Washington State - HistoryLink.org". www.historylink.org. Retrieved October 9, 2017.

  • Women as well as doctors played a prominent role in the movement to decriminalize abortion in Washington in the late 1960s. However, the impetus and initial direction came from medical providers, seeking simply to enlarge the legal space in which physicians could perform abortions. Eventually, feminists recast the debate to emphasize women’s rights to control their own bodies; but in the early years, the focus was on the rights of doctors to practice medicine without interference. “I guess it would be fair to say we were less concerned about women’s rights than women’s health,” said Lee Minto, executive director of Planned Parenthood of Seattle-King County from 1967 until 1993 (Minto Interview).
  • Minto was among the first of a group of people to join what became the Citizens’ Abortion Study Group, which grew out of Goldenberg’s discussions with his colleagues about “the problem of abortion.” The group met regularly for more than a year, exploring the moral, ethical, and political issues involved in a woman’s decision to have an abortion.
  • “We brought in people from various disciplines,” Goldenberg said, “doctors, lawyers, professors, researchers, parents, police — whoever seemed to have an interest. Whatever fund of knowledge and values we could come into contact with, we tried to enlist them in the group, if not as a regular member at least as a resource person.” By the summer of 1968, the group had drafted a proposed amendment to the law and was seeking endorsements from key organizations, beginning with the Washington State Medical Association. Shortly thereafter, the group changed its name, to Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform (WCAR). The members had decided “we no longer wanted to be a study group but an action group,” Goldenberg said. “We had reached a consensus that the law needed to be changed.”

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