United States anti-abortion movement

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The United States anti-abortion movement (also called the pro-life movement or right-to-life movement) contains elements opposing induced abortion on both moral and religious grounds and supports its legal prohibition or restriction. Advocates generally argue that human life begins at conception and that the human zygote, embryo or fetus is a person and therefore has a right to life. The anti-abortion movement includes a variety of organizations, with no single centralized decision-making body. There are diverse arguments and rationales for the anti-abortion stance.

Demonstrators at the 2004 March for Life
Democrats for Life of America demonstrates at the 2006 March for Life.
Protest outside clinic in the Bay Area, 1986.


  • Beginning in the mid-1980s, vandalism, bombings, arsons, and assassinations threatened to shut down many abortion providers. Clinics, doctors, and other advocates of choice demanded federal protection and helped to persuade Congress to enact the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 (FACE). This statute prohibits force, threats of force, physical obstruction, and property damage intended to interfere with people obtaining or providing reproductive health services. It does not apply to peaceful praying, picketing, or other free expression by anti-choice demonstrators -- so long as these activities do not obstruct physical access to clinics. FACE has reduced but by no means eliminated clinic violence.
    In their latest maneuver, opponents of choice have hit upon the powerful tactic of proposing and, in many states, passing bans on safe abortion procedures. Although their sponsors characterize the bans as aimed at a single, "late," "gruesome" procedure, the bans are not in fact limited to any stage of pregnancy, and they define the conduct to be banned so broadly as to reach an array of safe and common methods of abortion. Recognizing that such bans pose serious threats to reproductive choice, we and other organizations have challenged them in states all over the country. Ten courts to date have enjoined various bans in whole or in part.
  • Almost immediately after the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade, Idaho Senator Frank Church sponsored a rider to the Health Programs Expansion Act of 1973--now known as the Church Amendment--that guaranteed health care professionals who were opposed to abortion the right to opt out of the procedure. (The Church Amendment technically applied only to institutions receiving federal funds, but today that means nearly all hospitals). A complex web of additional "conscience" laws, at both the federal and state level, have followed. In principle, such freedom of conscience seems highly desirable in a liberal society. As I have written elsewhere, when patients have easy access to alternate providers, there is no reason to force objecting health care practitioners from their jobs.
  • [T]he most effective way to curtail reproductive freedom in the United States would be to have anti-choice activists enter medical school en masse and later crowd pro-choice physicians out of obstetrics training programs.
    I feel strongly that individuals who believe that life begins at conception and individuals who believe that life begins at birth--as well as individuals who believe that life begins before conception or after birth--should have an opportunity to express their ideas in the marketplace. Our society will only achieve meaningful enlightenment through civil discourse. Those individuals who believe I am wrong about these issues should have every right to convince me that my views are mistaken or my values are misguided. However, philosophical disagreement does not give one the right to generate a public health crisis. The courts are a good place to battle over constitutional rights; the wombs of often desperate women are not. So while one has every right to oppose abortion, one should not necessarily have a right to do so while occupying the scarce and precious position of an obstetrics resident that instead could be allocated to a potential provider. We hear much talk in progressive circles about a pro-choice litmus test for future Supreme Court justices. Yet without a pro-choice litmus test for future obstetricians, who serves on the federal bench may no longer matter.
  • White evangelical Protestants stand noticeably apart from other religious people on how the government should act on two of the most politically divisive issues at play in the 2020 presidential election, according to a new poll of Americans from various faith backgrounds.
    Asked about significant restrictions on abortion — making it illegal except in cases of rape, incest or to threats to a mother’s life — 37 percent of all Americans responded in support, according to the poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Those abortion limits drew 39 percent support from white mainline Protestants, 33 percent support from nonwhite Protestants and 45 percent support from Catholics, but 67 percent support from white evangelical Protestants.
  • Rev. Franklin Graham, son of the late Rev. Billy Graham and one of Trump’s most stalwart evangelical supporters, pointed to Trump’s record on abortion as a key driver of the president’s support from his religious community.
    “I don’t think evangelicals are united on every position the president takes or says, but they do recognize he is the most pro-life-friendly president in modern history,” Graham said in a recent interview. “He has appointed conservative judges that will affect my children and grandchildren’s lives, long after he’s gone.”
  • The Gallup Poll reported Friday that 51 percent of Americans now call themselves "pro-life" rather than "pro-choice" on the issue of abortion, the first time a majority gave that answer in the 15 years that Gallup has asked the question.
    The findings, obtained in an annual survey on values and beliefs conducted May 7-10, marked a significant shift from a year ago. A year ago, 50 percent said they were pro-choice and 44 percent pro-life — in the new poll, 42 percent said they were pro-choice.
    The new survey showed that Americans remained deeply divided on the legality of abortion — with 23 percent saying it should be illegal in all circumstances, 22 percent saying it should be legal under any circumstances, and 53 percent saying it should be legal only under certain circumstances.
    The findings echoed a recent national survey by the Pew Research Center, which reported a sharp decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases — from 54 percent to 46 percent.
    Taken together, the two polls have elated anti-abortion activists, who had been stung by the November election results that placed President Barack Obama and other abortion-rights supporters in power in Washington.
  • "Ironically, Obama's radical abortion policies and nominees may have helped make America more pro-life," said Wendy Wright, president of the conservative advocacy group Concerned Women for America.
    The Rev. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the poll findings demonstrate that the anti-abortion cause "is a vibrant, growing, youthful movement."
    "We are winning the battle for hearts and minds in our culture on the life issue," he said.
  • The president of a leading abortion-rights group, Nancy Keenan of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the Gallup findings "do not square with the voting patterns in the last two elections cycles."
    "It would be a mistake for anti-choice groups to interpret this one poll as a signal that Americans want even more interference from politicians in their personal, private decisions, including a woman's right to choose safe, legal abortion," Keenan said.
    Another abortion-rights leader, Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards, questioned the terminology in the Gallup questions.
    "The terms pro-choice and pro-life no longer define the parameters of the debate, witnessed by the fact that in the Gallup Poll, a majority of people say they are both pro-life and that abortion should be legal," Richards said.
    She added that most Americans share Obama's stated goal of reducing the number of unintended pregnancies.
    Planned Parenthood also noted that another recent national survey, a CNN/Opinion Research Corp., poll in April, reported 49 percent of respondents identifying as pro-choice and 45 percent as pro-life..
  • By the late 1970s, many Americans—not just Roman Catholics—were beginning to feel uneasy about the spike in legal abortions following the 1973 Roe decision. The 1978 Senate races demonstrated to Weyrich and others that abortion might motivate conservatives where it hadn’t in the past. That year in Minnesota, pro-life Republicans captured both Senate seats (one for the unexpired term of Hubert Humphrey) as well as the governor’s mansion. In Iowa, Sen. Dick Clark, the Democratic incumbent, was thought to be a shoo-in: Every poll heading into the election showed him ahead by at least 10 percentage points. On the final weekend of the campaign, however, pro-life activists, primarily Roman Catholics, leafleted church parking lots (as they did in Minnesota), and on Election Day Clark lost to his Republican pro-life challenger.
  • In the course of my research into Falwell’s archives at Liberty University and Weyrich’s papers at the University of Wyoming, it became very clear that the 1978 election represented a formative step toward galvanizing everyday evangelical voters. Correspondence between Weyrich and evangelical leaders fairly crackles with excitement. In a letter to fellow conservative Daniel B. Hales, Weyrich characterized the triumph of pro-life candidates as “true cause for celebration,” and Robert Billings, a cobelligerent, predicted that opposition to abortion would “pull together many of our ‘fringe’ Christian friends.” Roe v. Wade had been law for more than five years.
    Weyrich, Falwell and leaders of the emerging religious right enlisted an unlikely ally in their quest to advance abortion as a political issue: Francis A. Schaeffer—a goateed, knickers-wearing theologian who was warning about the eclipse of Christian values and the advance of something he called “secular humanism.” Schaeffer, considered by many the intellectual godfather of the religious right, was not known for his political activism, but by the late 1970s he decided that legalized abortion would lead inevitably to infanticide and euthanasia, and he was eager to sound the alarm. Schaeffer teamed with a pediatric surgeon, C. Everett Koop, to produce a series of films entitled Whatever Happened to the Human Race? In the early months of 1979, Schaeffer and Koop, targeting an evangelical audience, toured the country with these films, which depicted the scourge of abortion in graphic terms—most memorably with a scene of plastic baby dolls strewn along the shores of the Dead Sea. Schaeffer and Koop argued that any society that countenanced abortion was captive to “secular humanism” and therefore caught in a vortex of moral decay.
    Between Weyrich’s machinations and Schaeffer’s jeremiad, evangelicals were slowly coming around on the abortion issue. At the conclusion of the film tour in March 1979, Schaeffer reported that Protestants, especially evangelicals, “have been so sluggish on this issue of human life, and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? is causing real waves, among church people and governmental people too.”
  • WASHINGTON (BP)–A television commercial featuring three important figures in the legalization of abortion is part of a renewed effort to reinvigorate the pro-life movement.
    The TV ad, which was unveiled Jan. 14, features Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the Roe v. Wade case that resulted in legalized abortion; Sandra Cano, the plaintiff in the Doe v. Bolton opinion that permitted abortion at all stages of pregnancy; and Bernard Nathanson, co-founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League. In the ad, the three say they once were part of the “lie” of abortion but “will not be part of that lie anymore.”
  • Spread across the country are anti-abortion groups that offer post-abortion counseling. The Catholic Church runs abortion-recovery ministries in at least 165 dioceses in the United States. The federal government finances at least 50 nonsectarian “crisis pregnancy centers,” like the one where Arias worked in Houston. Many of the centers affiliate with two national groups, Heartbeat International and Care Net, which train abortion-recovery counselors. Then there are small, private counseling and Bible-study groups, both Catholic and evangelical, which raise their own money. Some abortion-recovery counselors just minister to other women. But many also feel called to join the fight to end abortion.
  • While national groups like Focus on the Family, the National Right to Life Committee and Concerned Women for America warn about the dire effects of abortion on their Web sites and link to counseling ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard, they don’t finance abortion-recovery counseling. In part, that may be because the government and the Catholic Church do. But the lack of money may also reflect the strain of skepticism that Koop voiced. Francis Beckwith, a professor of church-state studies at Baylor University who is anti-abortion, has criticized abortion-recovery activists for their “questionable interpretation of social-science data” and for potentially undermining the absolutist moral argument against abortion. “For every woman who has suffered trauma as a result of an abortion, I bet you could find half a dozen who would say it was the best decision they ever made,” he told me. “And in any case, suffering isn’t the same as immorality.” Beckwith speaks at churches and colleges, and he says that most anti-abortion leaders don’t want the woman-protective argument to supersede the traditional fetus-centered focus, “because that’s where the real moral force is.”
  • On a rainy morning in November, a dozen women gathered a block from the Supreme Court, at a row house owned by the Gospel of Life Ministries, an anti-abortion group. The women planned to spend the day rallying on the steps of the court while the justices heard a challenge to the federal partial-birth-abortion ban. They came from a constellation of groups: Operation Outcry; Rachel’s Vineyard; Project Rachel, the abortion-recovery ministry of the Catholic Church; and the Silent No More awareness campaign. Like Rachel’s Vineyard, Silent No More gets money from Priests for Life; it also has the backing of Anglicans for Life, another independent group. Once inside, the women closed their umbrellas and handed out mugs of coffee. Georgette Forney and Janet Morana, co-founders of Silent No More, checked on late arrivals from their cellphones. Theresa Burke was on her way from Pennsylvania. Alveda King, the niece of Martin Luther King Jr., would arrive later from Atlanta.
    At the courthouse, the women unfurled banners and signs that read, “I Regret My Abortion” and lined up to hold them. A giant picture of a bloody fetus floated above the crowd. Behind Forney’s group, two dozen people in NOW and Naral T-shirts chanted: “Right to life, that’s a lie. You don’t care if women die,” and “You get pregnant, let me know. Anti-choicers got to go.” Forney eyed them. “All these years and they still haven’t figured out it would be wise to find common ground with women like us,” she said.
  • Results: Thirty-two crisis pregnancy centers were contacted. Nineteen of these were visited. Fourteen centers (44%) offered that they "provide counseling on abortion and its risks." Inaccurate information provided included a link between abortion and breast cancer (16%), infertility (26%) and mental health problems (26%). Of the 36 Web sites identified, 31 (86%) provided false or misleading information, including 26 sites (72%) linking abortion to "post-abortion stress."
    Conclusions: Many crisis pregnancy centers give inaccurate medical information regarding the risks of abortion. Overstating risks stigmatizes abortion, seeks to intimidate women and is unethical.
  • Main outcome measures: Themes included statements that condoms are not effective, promotion of abstinence-only education, availability of comprehensive sexual education, appeal to a young audience, provision of comprehensive sexual health information, and information about sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
    Results and conclusion: Crisis pregnancy center Web sites provide inaccurate and misleading information about condoms, STIs, and methods to prevent STI transmission. This information might be particularly harmful to adolescents, who might be unable to discern the quality of sexual health information on crisis pregnancy center Web sites. Listing crisis pregnancy centers in state resource directories might lend legitimacy to the information on these Web sites. States should be discouraged from listing Web sites as an accurate source of information in their resource directories.
  • Right to Life. A movement opposed to the taking of innocent human life at any time from conception to natural death. The term- pro-life is often used as well. Arising as a reaction to the movement for liberalized abortion, the first permanent group was founded in New York in 1966. From early on, however, Right to Life groups were concerned with the question of euthanasia as well and came t devote more of their energies to this subject during the 1980s.
    The Supreme court decision of January 22, 1973, overthrowing all existing abortion laws, led to an enormous growth n the movement. Te National Right to Life Committee which had been founded in 1968 under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in 1973 became autonomous and non-sectarian. It is the largest and most influential national organization, with tell over two thousand local affiliated by the 1980s. A large number of other groups appeared as well, many the product of splits within the movement over strategy and tactics (e.g., American Life Lobby, Pro-Life Action League) and others appealing to specific constituencies (e.g., National Youth Pro Life Coalition, Feminists for Life, Lutherans for Life). The movement is diverse, its members representing a wide range of religious and political viewpoints, and its monolithic only in its rejection of killing the innocent.
    While the right to Life movement from its beginning has had members of a variety of religions, it was initially heavily Roman Catholic in composition. The later 1970s saw a huge influx of evangelical Protestants and this helped propel it to new prominence and political impact. The movement developed in Canada as well. The Alliance for Life was founded in 1968 and by the 1980s represented over two hundred local affiliates.
    • K.M. Cassidy., "Right to Life" In Dictionary of Christianity in America, Coordinating Editor, Daniel G. Reid. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1990. pp.1017,1018.
  • Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law: 'You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish'.
    • Catechism of the Catholic Church p.2271
  • The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:
    "The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.
    These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin.
    Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."

    "The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law.
    When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined....
    As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."
  • Human life is a sacred gift from God. Elective abortion for personal or social convenience is contrary to the will and the commandments of God. Church members who submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for such abortions may lose their membership in the Church.
    In today’s society, abortion has become a common practice, defended by deceptive arguments. Latter-day prophets have denounced abortion, referring to the Lord’s declaration, “Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:6). Their counsel on the matter is clear: Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must not submit to, perform, encourage, pay for, or arrange for an abortion. Church members who encourage an abortion in any way may be subject to Church discipline.
    Church leaders have said that some exceptional circumstances may justify an abortion, such as when pregnancy is the result of incest or rape, when the life or health of the mother is judged by competent medical authority to be in serious jeopardy, or when the fetus is known by competent medical authority to have severe defects that will not allow the baby to survive beyond birth. But even these circumstances do not automatically justify an abortion. Those who face such circumstances should consider abortion only after consulting with their local Church leaders and receiving a confirmation through earnest prayer.
    When a child is conceived out of wedlock, the best option is for the mother and father of the child to marry and work toward establishing an eternal family relationship. If a successful marriage is unlikely, they should place the child for adoption.
    • "Abortion". churchofjesuschrist.org. Intellectual Reserve, Inc.
  • In the 1980s and 1990s, the anti-abortion campaign switched tactics somewhat. Drawing on studies that claimed women were psychologically traumatized by abortion, the movement cleverly translated feminist demands for “informed consent” into a call for increased restrictions on access to abortion as a way to protect women from harm. At the same time, a new focus on the rights of the fetus entered the debate, spurred in part by The Silent Scream, Bernard Nathanson’s anti-abortion video from 1984, which supposedly showed a fetus exhibiting pain during an abortion procedure. Researchers pointed out that the neurological system of a fetus was not well developed enough at that point to identify pain, but the images trumped the science. In fact, the whole expansion of fetal technology, especially the widespread use of sonograms, came together to give increasing weight to the needs and rights of the fetus over the rights of the pregnant woman.
  • The individuals who contact federally funded pregnancy resource centers are often vulnerable teenagers, who are susceptible to being misled and need medically accurate information to help them make a fully informed decision. The vast majority of pregnancy resource centers contacted for this report, however, provided false or misleading information about the health risks of an abortion. This may advance the mission of the pregnancy resource centers, which are typically pro-life organizations dedicated to preventing abortion, but it is an inappropriate public health practice.
  • The vast majority of the federally funded pregnancy resource centers contacted during the investigation provided information about the risks of abortion that was false or misleading. In many cases, this information was grossly inaccurate or distorted. A pregnant teenager who relied on the information from these federally funded centers would make her decision about whether to give birth or terminate her pregnancy based on erroneous facts and misinformation.
    In total, 87% of the centers reached (20 of 23 centers) provided false or misleading information to the callers. The three major areas of misinformation involved (1) the purported relationship between abortion and breast cancer; (2) the purported relationship between abortion and infertility; and (3) the purported relationship between abortion and mental illness.
  • The body of a human being, from the very first stages of its existence, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.
    It is appropriate to recall the fundamental ethical criterion expressed in the Instruction Donum vitae in order to evaluate all moral questions which relate to procedures involving the human embryo: "Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life".
  • House Democrats moved toward a decisive series of votes on health reform Sunday night after a cadre of anti-abortion Democrats signed onto an agreement with the White House – finally putting the Democrats over the 216-vote threshold to pass President Barack Obama's top legislative priority.
    The announcement by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) and a half-dozen colleagues came just after Obama said he will sign an executive order reaffirming a ban on federal funding of abortions.
    The agreement cleared the final hurdle for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to shepherd to passage a sweeping health reform package – marking the fulfillment of a decades-long Democratic goal, to make health insurance available to nearly every American.
  • Earlier in the day, Stupak (D-Mich.) told Democratic leaders that he would vote for the bill after receiving assurances that Obama will issue the order and that he would be able to state his concerns about abortion funding in the bill in a colloquy on the House floor before the vote. Later, Stupak and Waxman took to the floor to put into the record that the bill is meant to completely prevent the use of any federal dollars to pay for abortion.
    "We've always said ... that we were for health care reform, but there was a principle that meant more to us than anything, and that was the sanctity of life," Stupak said at news conference, which included Reps. Marcy Kaptur and Steve Driehaus of Ohio, Kathleen Dahlkemper and Chris Carney of Pennsylvania, Alan Mollohan of West Virginia and Nick Rahall of West Virginia.
    At the news conference, Stupak said the language of the order clears up any ambiguity about federal funding of abortion in the reform bill. "We have the assurances from the president that he won't rip this up tomorrow," Stupak said.
    A statement from the White House said the executive order following the passage of the health bill would "reaffirm its consistency with long-standing restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion."
    "While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented," the White House statement said.
  • The big question here is why do those who claim to be "pro-life" and are so adamantly against abortion provide the greatest opposition to those very policies that would bring down the abortion rate? Because they are not really "pro-life." They have a different agenda. What they are really against is you, dear reader, using birth control and, very importantly, against your engaging in sexual expression within your marriage to enhance intimacy. They believe you should never have sex with your wife or husband except for the purpose of procreation. That is the white elephant (or donkey if you are an anti-choice Democrat) sitting under the Capitol dome.
  • The use of contraception reduces the probability of having an abortion by 85%. In states which allowed emergency contraceptives without a prescription prior to the FDA's move earlier this year, the abortion rate dropped by over 1/3. Some 70% or 42 million American women today of reproductive age are sexually active and do not want to become pregnant. Only 5% of women aged 15-44 in the U.S. use no contraception during sex and they account for 50% of the nation's abortions. In light of this overwhelming evidence that unfettered access to contraception causes the abortion rate to plunge, it is stunning that NOT A SINGLE anti-abortion group in the United States supports the use of birth control. The best a few do is say nothing about birth control, but many so-called pro-life organizations lobby vigorously against it. The nation's largest anti-abortion group, American Life League says "A.L.L. denies the moral acceptability of artificial birth control." These are the very groups that say abortion shouldn't be used as a form of birth control yet they oppose every type of birth control that would prevent unintended pregnancy.
    Now the anti-abortion crowd has decided to "medicalize" their narrow views about birth control with false information that has been widely discredited in the medical community. They have taken to calling the most common forms of contraceptives "abortifacients," despite the pesky little detail that in order for an abortion to take place, conception needs to occur. Barrier methods and oral contraceptives work by preventing conception. American Life League says "damn the facts." They are not alone. All over right-wing websites and from the pulpits throughout the nation, birth control is now portrayed as abortion and, of course, murder, and, well, you know the rest! In the make-sure-they-are-born-but-don't-feed-them-department, the 113 members of Congress who had the lowest Children's Defense Fund ratings were all "pro-life" on abortion.
  • 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%).
  • As Democrats, we believe that the role of government is to defend the weak, not the strong. This applies to pre-born human beings as much as it does to immigrants, the poor, and minorities subject to systemic oppression. We do not believe in discriminating on the basis of size, age, or location. To that end, while we focus on many life issues, we are particularly focused on ending the mass lethal injustice of abortion. This worldview is informed by science, which, increasingly, reveals the humanity of the pre-born child.
    DFLA unequivocally supports the efforts of other pro-life organizations to provide legal protection to pre-born humans. We believe that laws should prosecute doctors and clinics who profit from abortion. We support a model of restorative justice as proposed by AUL and Rehumanize, described here. We call on Democratic politicians to pass laws protecting pre-born life.
  • Many women who have abortions do so with great reluctance, and many would decide otherwise if they had greater support in bearing or raising the child and if alternatives were available to them. Research at the NIH highlights the reasons why some women seek abortion: 40% do so for financial reasons, 31% do so for partner-related reasons, and 29% do so because they are struggling to raise the children they already have. (Women often cite multiple reasons, so these numbers do not sum to 100%.)
    We believe that a stronger social safety net can address some of the drivers that lead women to choose abortion. We also believe that, as a culture, we need to embrace and support women facing crisis pregnancies. This support is embodied in both practical support (i.e., pregnancy support centers) and cultural attitudes. We look forward to a world where women are celebrated for bearing a child in difficult circumstances, rather than shamed for their decision.
    While DFLA believes in addressing the root causes of abortion, this action can and must go hand-in-hand with work to protect the human rights of pre-born children. A social safety net is not a substitute for legal protection.
  • The high abortion rate in the United States cannot be uncoupled from the high rate of sexual violence in this country. 21% of women have been sexually assaulted, while an additional 16% have experienced sexual coercion. Disturbingly, from women aged 18 to 24, the risk of sexual assault is higher for those who attend college.
    These numbers are unacceptable and are responsible for a large share of trauma among American women today. This trauma, sadly, is often exacerbated by an unwillingness to believe victims and a failure to prosecute sexual offenders. Reporting rape is a difficult process, and all the more so given that rape kits are frequently misplaced. Sexual violence is often compounded by domestic violence.
    This phenomenon is important to recognize since it informs the outlook of many women, and especially young women, on the topic of abortion. Addressing abortion requires a robust commitment to addressing the epidemic of sexual violence in this country and defending the victims of sexual violence. For example, in some states, rapists retain parental rights, compounding the trauma of women who become pregnant due to rape. Laws should be reformed to protect women and children.
    In particular, DFLA supports strengthened mandatory reporting laws at healthcare facilities to identify possible child sex abuse victims, including victims who may be taken by their perpetrator to an abortion clinic. DFLA supports legislative models such as the Child Protection Act, drafted by Americans United for Life, which seeks to ensure that suspected rape of children is reported to the authorities.
    This trauma also informs our outlook on how to speak about abortion: with compassion and love, rather than judgment or condemnation. Full-throated support for abortion often comes from a place of fear or personal experience of trauma. We can be bold and outspoken in our support of human rights, while also remaining attuned to the personal history that makes these conversations difficult.
    As an organization whose members overwhelmingly identify as feminist, we are proud to support policies that are both pro-woman and pro-child.
  • The inconsistencies in categorizing EMILY's List and Planned Parenthood also point to a problem with tallying pro- and anti-abortion spending. What counts as relevant spending? Abortion policy has become highly partisan over the past two decades, so that general liberal and conservative groups can be expected to take their side's stance on the issue. But do America Votes or the Senate Conservatives Fund count as pro-choice or pro-life groups? How about the Judicial Crisis Network, which spent heavily in support of President Donald Trump's two nominees to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh? The group backs conservative judges in general; the practical effect of Gorsuch's and Kavanaugh's appointments is that it now seems possible, to both sides, that Roe v. Wade may be overturned. Neither the Center for Responsive Politics, which runs OpenSecrets.org, nor the National Institute on Money in Politics, which runs FollowTheMoney.org, counts these more general groups as abortion policy organizations. But it can be difficult to draw the line.
  • "For some time, the anti-abortion movement didn't have a natural political home at all," says Mary Ziegler, an expert in abortion law history at Florida State University. The Susan B. Anthony List, whose "mission is to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives," initially sought to elect pro-life women of any party. One of its founders, Rachel McNair, was a liberal feminist who held pro-life views based on her Quaker faith, as Mother Jones has reported. However, the group didn't really gain in fundraising prowess and influence until it shifted to supporting both male and female pro-life politicians, nearly all of them Republicans. That is, it didn't succeed until it aligned itself fully with conservatism.
  • For decades, a group called Feminists for Life (FFL) has insisted that the founders of the women's rights movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, opposed abortion and worked to make it illegal. In fact, most early feminists expressed decided skepticism about outlawing abortion. This article revisits the sources and context to show that the early feminists condemned abortion but also predicted that anti-abortion laws would not work because they did not consult women's interests. The theories of sexuality on which these feminists premised their ideas about abortion soon became outdated, but their insight about the laws was prescient. A fuller understanding of this piece of women's history offers little support to anti-choice activists; indeed, it calls their whole project into question.
  • Ever since “Roe v. Wade”, opponents of legal abortion have invoked women’s history to justify themselves. A group called Feminists for Life (FFL) first came up with the idea that the founders of the women’s rights movement, including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, had opposed abortion and “worked to outlaw: it. FFL saw their historical vision widely adopted in the Right-to-Life movement in the early 1990s as it tried to appeal to younger women with pro-woman and “women-protective” arguments. Whena political action committee was formed in 1993 to support anti-choice candidates, it doubled down on this historical claim by calling itself the Susan B. Anthony List. But FFL and kindred groups have played fast and loose with the evidence, as the historian Ann D. Gordion and others have already pointed out.
    In fact, a number of early feminists expressed decided skepticism about outlawing abortion. They disliked abortion but thought anti-abortion laws did not apply “the proper remedies,” according to one nineteenth-century women’s rights pioneer. Such laws “donot touch the case,” declared another. FFL assumed that it was enough to show that “the original feminists condemned abortion in the strongest terms” to infer that they favored legal sanctions. The sources show, however, that this assumption was wrong; feminists could condemn abortion but remain quite skeptical of its criminalization.
  • For years, conservatives have complained about what they saw as the liberal tilt of federal grant money. Taxpayer funds went to abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood to promote birth control, and groups closely aligned with the AFL-CIO got Labor Department grants to run worker-training programs.
    In the Bush administration, conservatives are discovering that turnabout is fair play: Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds have flowed to groups that support President Bush's agenda on abortion and other social issues.
    Under the auspices of its religion-based initiatives and other federal programs, the administration has funneled at least $157 million in grants to organizations run by political and ideological allies, according to federal grant documents and interviews.
  • Hundreds of struggling antiabortion and pregnancy crisis centers have received federal grants that often doubled or tripled their annual budgets, allowing them to branch out and hire staff, especially for abstinence education.
    The Door of Hope Pregnancy Care Center in Madisonville, Ky., a small outfit of four part-time employees committed "to the belief in the sanctity of human life, primarily as it relates to the protection of the unborn," operated on an annual budget of $75,000 to $79,000, most of it raised from an annual banquet and a "walk for life." Last year, Door of Hope got an abstinence education grant of $317,017, allowing it to hire staff and expand.
    In Dyersburg, Tenn., the Life Choices Pregnancy Support Center, where the staff believes "without reservation or qualification that the Scriptures teach that human life begins at conception," had revenue of $81,621 and could pay Executive Director Natalie Wilson $12,247 in 2001. Two years later, the center got a $534,339 grant for abstinence education. By 2004, annual revenue totaled $617,355.
    Altogether, local antiabortion and crisis pregnancy centers have received well over $60 million in grants for abstinence education and other programs, according to a Post review of federal records.
  • Throughout most of the mid-to late 1960s, those opposed to abortion sat smugly by watching the reform efforts, confident that nothing would come of them. How could reform happen in a society that could not even say the word? Abortion liberalization looked like a doomed cause if ever there was one. Newspapers refused to cover the subject. Magazines-especially women’s magazines, which could have been (and later beame) a powerful ally to the reform movement-never wrote about it. Almost no books were available on abortion. Lawrence Lader’s Abortion, which had awakened many people to the need for reform, was not published until 1966. His book did not generate much interest on the part of publishers, and few other books followed his; those that were published were usually directed at a professional readership.
  • Not until mid-1970 did the opposition, stimulated no doubt by Dallas decision and subsequent word that the Supreme Court was going to hear an abortion case, finally awaken to the need to organize against abortion reform. At that time, virtually the only opposition to abortion came from the Catholic church hierarchy. Even lay Catholics were caught up in the move to liberalize abortion. In 1962 about half of all Catholics disapprove of abortion to protect the woman’s health or in cases where the fetus would be severely deformed. By 1969 only one-third of all Catholics disapproved of abortion for these reasons, compared to one-fifth of the general non-Catholic population that disapproved.
  • Feminists for Life of America recognizes that abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women. We are dedicated to systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion-primarily lack of practical resources and support-through holistic, woman-centered solutions. Women deserve better than abortion.
    Established in 1972, Feminists for Life of America is a consectarian, nonpartisan, grassroots organization that seeks real solutions to the challenges women face. Our efforts are shaped by the core feminist values of justice, nondiscrimination, and nonviolence. Feminists for Life of America continues the tradition of early American feminists such as Susan B. Anthony, who opposed abortion.
  • After all, the abortion issue has been good to the Republican Party. It has energized Roman Catholic and evangelical grass-roots activists and allowed the GOP to paint pro-choice Democrats as cultural extremists, out of step with Main Street and the heartland. But a recent flurry of activity on abortion is making Republican politicians nervous. With states moving to restrict abortion and the Supreme Court drawing closer to the day when it might actually reverse Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision guaranteeing a woman's right to an abortion, GOP leaders see big political risks.
    They may be in the awkward position of getting more than they asked for. The South Dakota law, for instance, would allow abortions only to save the life of the mother, not in cases of rape or incest. That is further than most Americans want to go. By a roughly two-to-one margin, polls show, people want to uphold the basic abortion right enshrined in Roe v. Wade, even if they approve of some restrictions, like parental notification. "I'm pro-life, but you can't wear the thing out," says Clarke Reed, the legendary architect of the GOP in Mississippi. "I'm worried about it." With reason: his own state legislature is moving in a direction similar to South Dakota's.
    "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."
  • Some of the Republicans' most ardent right-to-lifers are not embracing the South Dakota law. "It could backfire," says Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana, if the courts strike it down—a near certainty, since the Supreme Court still lacks the votes to reverse Roe (and Justice John Paul Stevens, widely viewed as the vote that would maintain a 5-4 majority in Roe's favor, does not show signs of slowing down, despite being 85 years old). Virginia Sen. George Allen, a former governor, is firmly anti-abortion. But he told NEWSWEEK that if a similar bill had come through his own state's legislature, he would have vetoed it.
    Other presidential hopefuls are squirming a bit. Asked whether he supported the South Dakota law, Sen. John McCain riffled through his mental notecards and said he didn't know the "technical" details of the law. But he said he would support the measure if it were consistent with his long-held view that abortion should be banned except in cases of rape or incest—or to protect, as he put it, the "health" of the mother. His aides had to scramble to correct the record: he meant, they said, the life of the mother.
    McCain was uncharacteristically muted when he was asked at the Memphis gathering whether the South Dakota abortion law could cause problems for the party. "I just don't know," he said. McCain is not going to be able to duck the issue. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who is vying for the evangelical vote, strongly backed the South Dakota law. "I'd have signed it," he told NEWSWEEK. "Rape and incest are horrible crimes, but why punish the innocent child?"
  • Indeed, the Democrats are going through some soul-searching of their own over abortion. Four years ago, says Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, she couldn't get other Democrats to return her phone calls. But today, a prominent pro-lifer, Bob Casey, is running for the U.S. Senate from Pennsylvania. The Democrats' rising star, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois, prefers to cast abortion in terms of parental responsibility. "Even as we defend this right," he says, "it's important for us to acknowledge the moral dimension to the choice that's made."
  • Trailers for "AKA Jane Roe" suggests that McCorvey's pro-life activism was insincere, and motivated by money.
    "I was the big fish. I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money and they'd put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That's what I'd say," McCorvey can be heard saying in the documentary.
    • J.D.Flynn, "The 'painful journey' of Jane Roe and the pro-life movement", Catholic News Agency, May 19, 2020 (Archived December 6, 2021)
  • As to charges that McCorvey was used by the pro-life movement, Pavone said that from his perspective, "I've never subscribed to the idea that the pro-life movement used her."
    The priest conceded, however, that "one would have to say that, as in any movement, when there's a convert, you've got to be careful not to put them into the lights and the cameras before they've had the healing that they need."
    • J.D.Flynn, "The 'painful journey' of Jane Roe and the pro-life movement", Catholic News Agency, May 19, 2020 (Archived December 6, 2021)
  • The 1980s marked the beginning of an antifeminist and conservative backlash that has shaped public discourse and restricted women’s legal choices around reproductive freedom. As Susan Faludi (1991) unequivocally states, “All of women’s aspirations—whether for education, work, or any form of self-determination—ultimately rest on their ability to decide whether and when to bear children” (414). Acts of violence—including bombings, death threats, and harassment—against abortion clinics, their clients and their employees, formed part of the backlash against women in the 1980s and 1990s. Beginning after Roe v. Wade (1973), and gaining force through Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority (1980), the movement to eliminate women’s public and private reproductive control quickly renamed itself not as the “anti-choice” movement but rather as the “pro-life” movement. Its focus was on the life of the 12-week embryo (retroactively named a fetus) and not on the life of the woman gestating the embryo. Now put on the defensive, the movement for women’s reproductive freedoms renamed itself as “pro-choice,” and movement rhetoric focused on the woman herself, included an awareness of her social and economic contexts, and steered the discourse away from the specific choices of terminating or keeping an unplanned pregnancy to advocate for women’s reproductive choice itself as the basis for any authentic and gender-neutral human rights.
  • 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."
  • Wolf traces the origin of the pro-choice "lexicon of dehumanization" to the 1970's epoch of the larger battle for the equality of women. In the quest for the liberation of the female self, the fetus was reduced to nothing more than a parasitic mass. Much as the pro-life movement has been accused, sometimes fairly, of treating pregnant women as mere receptacles for life, pro-choicers have tended to the opposing extreme. In one of her finer moments, Wolf articulates the clearest vision, namely, that a "pregnant woman is in fact both a person in her body and a vessel."
    Wolf is troubled that the majority of her pro-choice allies will not acknowledge this undeniable dualism. And even if they do so at some personal level, perhaps as a result of having had children, their public abortion rights rhetoric has become so sterilized that the fetus is never spoken of as the human being that it is, whose death "is a real death." Wolf, though, is willing to recognize the harsh truth at the center of abortion, oft-depicted in the images of killed fetuses wielded by pro-lifers: though such images "work magnificently ... as political polemic, the pictures are not polemical in themselves: they are biological facts. We know this."
    The products of this denial in the eyes of Wolf are "brutality" and "hypocrisy." The former is evidenced in Joycelyn Elders' call for our society "to get over this love affair with the fetus ..." The latter manifests itself in a pro-choice culture's double standard of greeting a wanted fetus with "Mozart for your belly; framed sonogram photos; home fetal-heartbeat stethoscopes" and reducing to "material" the unwanted fetus. Wolf is brave enough to denounce both. Each is absolutely unworthy of feminism, insofar as it is an ideology which rightly demands both the truth and the recognition of the intrinsic worth and dignity of each and every human being.
    For those of us who approached, and, more importantly, who depart from, Wolf's project with pro-life convictions, the response is of course bittersweet. To be sure, Wolf's honesty is refreshing and welcome: someone at the forefront of the pro-choice movement is finally willing to publicly acknowledge what the legitimate elements of the pro-life movement have always taken as their starting point: the humanity of the unborn child.
  • PIP: Presents findings from a 1980 survey undertaken with the cooperation of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), conducted among 750 members of each organization (response rates were 63% among NARAL and 57% among NLRC members). NRLC members were found to be more likely to have come from large families, and to prefer and have large families. About 70% of NRLC members are Roman Catholic, compared to 4% of NARAL members and about 28% of the general population. 17% of NARAL members are Jewish, compared to almost no NRLC members and 2% for the general population. Protestants and blacks are relatively underrepresented in both organizations. 9 in 10 NRLC members report that religion is very important to them and that they attend services at least once a week, compared to 1 in 5 NARAL members. NRLC members are more likely to have experienced difficulties becoming pregnant, to have had a miscarriage and to have had an unplanned pregnancy. NARAL members are much more likely to have used birth control pills or to be surgically sterilized. Of those who had had an abortion, among the women surveyed, 94% had joined NARAL and only 6% had joined NRLC. High levels of fertility and fertility aspirations among NRLC members appear to reflect a generally conservative approach to personal morality. NRLC members are much more likely to oppose sex education in schools, and birth control information for teenagers, and to favor stricter public policy on divorce. They are also relatively more likely to be opposed to premarital, extramarital, and homosexual relations, and contraceptive sterilization among married couples. The majority of NLRC members oppose the Equal Rights Amendment; majority of NARAL supports it. The majority of members of both organizations support political, social and economic equality of women in other respects. Attitudes toward abortion were about as expected, although 7 in 10 NRLC members favored legal abortion if the woman's life would be endangered otherwise, and 4 in 10 NARAL members oppose abortion to prevent the birth of a child not of the desired sex. NRLC members are much more likely to be Republicans and describe themselves as conservative. But while more than 8 in 10 NRLC members would oppose a candidate they otherwise support if they disagreed with their abortion stand, fewer than 1/2 the NARAL members say they are 1 issue voters.
  • Conservative and pro-life groups had been hailing Rep. Bart Stupak as a hero for his stance on abortion and the healthcare reform bill. But when Stupak and other pro-life Democrats agreed to back the bill in exchange for an executive order stating that no federal funds could be used for abortion, the Michigan Congressman instantly became persona non grata.
  • Most pro-life groups insisted that the executive order did not change the effect of what they see as the bill's abortion provisions. The National Right to Life Committee said the executive order was "issued for political effect." Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life Action, called the executive order a "charade."
    For most groups, the problem with the executive order was that it was a directive from the president (which is legally binding on the federal government) but not part of the legislation itself.
    "Executive orders don't have the force of law, don't direct the private sector, and can be rescinded by future administrations. The order instead serves as an admission that the healthcare bill is not abortion neutral," said Ashley Horne of Focus on the Family Action.
  • A Republican state lawmaker in Texas has reintroduced a bill that would criminalize abortion without exception, making it possible for women to be convicted of homicide and sentenced to death for having the procedure.
    Texas state Rep. Tony Tinderholt (R) was placed under state protection in 2017 when he first introduced the bill because of the death threats he received, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
    His bill earned its first public hearing this week, and he argued that his intention is to guarantee “equal protection” for life inside and "outside the womb.”
    He has previously said that his proposal would completely remove access to abortions and “force” women to be “more personally responsible” with sex.
    “Right now, it’s real easy," Tinderholt told the Texas Observer in 2017. "Right now, they don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.”
  • The Post called Tinderholt’s bill a clear violation of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
    The bill would criminalize abortion and classify it as homicide, which would make it possible for a woman to receive the death penalty for having the procedure done. The legislation's language directs authorities to enforce its requirements “regardless of any contrary federal law, executive order, or court decision.”
    “I think it’s important to remember that if a drunk driver kills a pregnant woman, they get charged twice. If you murder a pregnant woman, you get charged twice. So I’m not specifically criminalizing women. What I’m doing is equalizing the law,” Tinderholt said during a hearing Tuesday, according to Fox4 News.
  • Of course, if all human life was as sacrosanct to conservatives as a zygote, an embryo, and a fetus, you might expect them to act differently in other situations.
    For instance Republicans are twice as likely as a Democrat to support the death penalty. About as far from "pro life" as it gets.
    Over 30,000 Americans die every year from guns, yet Republicans overwhelmingly opposerestricting or reducing gun rights. Not very compassionate.
    Republicans support drone strikes at significantly greater levels than Democrats, even though these drone kill hundreds of civilians each year. The taking of innocent lives is a feature, and not a bug, of drone attacks.
    Republican legislators oppose many of the efforts of the EPA aimed at reducing air pollution even though some 200,000 Americans die every year from poor air quality. Including a lot of babies.
    Heart disease kills some 600,000 Americans per year, yet attempts to curb the availability of foods that lead to heart disease are often rebuffed as government overreach.
    Just like abortion statistics, these numbers don't prove one side right or the other side wrong.
    What they do show is that one person's "murder" is another person's "choice."
    • Hansen, Dale (18 March 2014). "Abortion: Murder, or Medical Procedure?". The Huffington Post. Archived
  • The most tragic consequences have resulted when we, or another nation, have taken a too restrictive view personhood and the value of all human life. The institution of slavery, the ovens at Auschwitz and the slaughter at all the My Lais of Indochina demonstrates what becomes possible, tolerable, and even legal from a philosophy of human life and personhood too narrowly conceived.
    • Mark Hatfield, National Right to Life Committee, (June 1973)
  • During the 1960s, people opposed to abortion generally stayed on the sidelines, not believing that abortion-on-demand could ever become a reality. But in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the rise of state abortion-reform legislation, a new right-to-life movement mobilized. Organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee and the Voice of the Unborn formed, actively fighting state legislation and targeting pro-choice political candidates. The Catholic Church and others also actively lobbied legislators and rounded up support among its members to oppose abortion reform.
  • For the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the pre-eminent human dignity issues are abortion and euthanasia. Abortion and euthanasia undermine the very foundation of the house, the temple of the human person in whom dwells the Spirit. Concerns about education, poverty, hunger, and unemployment are moot for the dead. Furthermore, although the state retains a right, in principle to administer capital punishment, even though in practice it may not legitimately do so, according to Catholic teaching, no state or person ever has the right to take innocent life. The very magnitude of the killing involved (some 1.25 to 1.5 million deaths each year from abortion versus around 100 a year from capital punishment) suggests urgency to the abortion issue viv-a-vis other life issues. Therefore, the U.S. Bishops have written: “Because victims of abortion are the most vulnerable and defenceless members of the human family, it is imperative that we, as Christians called to serve the least among us, give urgent attention and priority to this issue of justice. . . This focus and the Church’sfirm commitment to a consistent ethic of life complement each other. A consistent life ethic, far from diminishing concern for abortion or equating all life issues touching on the dignity of human life, recognizes the distinctive character of each issue while giving each its proper role within a coherent moral vision (NCCB 1985,3-4). Without ever acting as if all life issues were of equal importance, those committed to reducing the number of abortions should also be committed to a critical examination of the death penalty as used in the United States. Commitment to the value of all human life makes witness to the value of innocent life even more powerful.
  • In the wake of Roe v. Wade in 1973, the anti-abortion movement experienced new growth compared to previous years when the majority of people opposed to abortion reform remained disinterested or apathetic. The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), formed in 1967 under the auspices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, became an independent group in 1973. It struggled during its first few years when infighting and factionalism between NRLC President Edward Golden and challenger Marjory Mecklenburg led to the group’s general ineffectiveness. There were successes during the early years. Nellie Gray launched the March for Life in January 1974. Dr. Mildred Jefferson served as NRLC president from 1975 to 1978. Abortion became a campaign issue in 1976 when Ellen McCormack ran for the Democratic nomination for president. The Hyde amendment the following year blocked federal funds from paying for abortions for welfare recipients. Failures occurred in other areas. A Senate subcommittee rejected a Human Life Amendment after conducting hearings between 1974 and 1975. Pro-lifers promoted a constitutional convention to achieve a Human Life Amendment. The plan failed. Violence directed at abortion clinics erupted in 1977, a disturbing trend that afflicted the movement in the future.
  • The dual abortion cases, “Roe v. Wade” and “Doe v. Bolton”, handed down by the United States Supreme Court on January 22, 1973, energized a small, weak pro-life movement into action. Almost overnight, people who had either sat on the sidelines or were apathetic to the issue became incensed at the Court’s decisions. In “Roe”, the court established two basic principles: the “right of privacy” was “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnanct,” and since “the unborn had never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense,” they had no
  • Paradoxically, as Americans became increasingly pro-choice, 2 anti-abortion Presidents were elected to serve for 12 years and pro-life forces captured the domestic agenda by overhauling the traditionally libertarian Republican party. This occurred because Republican analysts saw that the Democratic New Deal coalition was cracking, the traditionally conservative south and west began to control more seats in the House of Representatives, and Americans were becoming more affluent and, thus, more interested in taxes and inflation. Efforts were made to bring social conservatives, especially pro-lifers, into the Republican party with scare tactics used in the wording of direct mailings. In the late 1970s, fundamentalist Christians became outraged by Supreme Court decisions banning school prayer and legalizing abortion and by Jimmy Carter's decision to withdraw tax-exempt status from segregated church schools. This group was mobilized by radio and television preachers, especially televangelist Jerry Falwell who also used scare tactics to promote his Moral Majority. The new right also tried to reach the nation's 50 million Roman Catholics through the right-to-life movement. The Catholic bishops worked closely with the new right at first, but most Catholic lay people did not share their church's opposition to abortion in all cases. When Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980, the new right was quick to claim the victory, even though polls showed that most Reagan voters opposed banning abortion. For the next 12 years, Republican policies were crafted to please these new Republicans, with funding denied important international family planning agencies. Then in the mid-1980s, the forces of the new right began to wobble. Fundamentalist and Catholic Church leaders were rocked with sexual scandals, the pro-lifers began to fight among themselves, and the Moral Majority stopped raking in funds. When the Supreme Court's Webster decision gave states the right to restrict abortion, a pro-choice backlash swept the nation. Congress followed suit. Pro-lifers have resisted political marginalization, and their new strategy is exemplified by Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition which wants to organize members into a political force from the ground up. The religious right also maintains its firm hold on the Republican party, although pro-choice Republicans are urging the party to distance itself from the anti-abortion forces. With most Americans willing to accept some restrictions on abortion, however, and anti-choice activism continuing, abortion foes have made significant political gains in some states just as the Supreme Court has allowed states to regulate abortion. This will affect the women who most depend upon abortion, the young and the poor.
  • Public support for the right to choose has remained firm. Unfortunately, it has not deterred those who want to make all abortions illegal. Instead of a frontal assault on the constitutional right protected by Roe, anti-choice advocates have tried to undermine the right by repeatedly attempting to impose various restrictions on it. Since the Republican party gained control of the House and Senate in 1995, Congress has voted 81 times on issues related to a woman’s right to choose, and anti-abortion advocates have won 71 of those votes. The Republican majority in Congress has been waging a relentless war on a woman’s right to choose.
    Anti-choice legislation-whether in Congress or in state legislatures around the country-has real-life consequences.
  • There was an undulating sea of demonstrators stretching for several blocks along the mall: Parents with strollers, people pouring from lines of buses, senior citizens in wheelchairs and groups of young people looking as determined as they were fired up.
  • Organizers made a determined effort to reach out to supporters via Twitter and Facebook. Even Pope Benedict sent out a tweet in support of the march, saying he prays that political leaders will protect the unborn and promote a culture of life.
  • It is a daunting task to build a consensus in the church and in society around the vision of the consistent ethic of life, bur Bernardin was optimistic. In one of his last addresses on the consistent ethic of life, presented at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center, on March 20, 1990, Bernardin saw potential for support of the ethic in the sixty percent of Americans who do not identify themselves completely with either of the pro-life or the pro-choice camps. He was willing to work for incremental gains, such as setting limits of abortion. “To convince this 60 percent of the populace of the wisdom of at least limiting abortion would be a major advance for life.” This is where the appeal of the consistent ethic of life may be helpful:
    I am convinced that moving the middle depends upon projecting a broad-based vision which seeks to support and sustain life. It will not be enough to be against abortion; we need to show convincingly that we are for life-life for women and children; for life, in support of the very old and the very young; for life which enhances the chance for the next generation to come to adulthood well-educated, well-nourished, and well-founded in a value structure which provides a defense against the allure of drugs, violence and despair.
  • That's why I cannot just follow what the church is teaching. When we go back to the ethics and morality of this all, I respect life, I am pro life, but what kind of life. Not just near animal existence, but a life that will bring these children hope.
  • If indeed “[t]here can be no doubt that our Nation has had a long and unfortunate history of sex discrimination,” this discrimination has consisted primarily of the systematic use of motherhood to define and limit women’s social, economic, and political capacities. Anti-abortion laws would continue and ratify that practice even if they could somehow be restricted to the women who really have consented to the compulsion-that small (indeed, probably nonexistent) subset of women seeking abortions who had entered into surrogacy contracts which forbade it. The issue here is analogous to that of “badges of slavery.” Because the subordination of women, like that of blacks, has traditionally been reinforced by a complex pattern of symbols and practices the amendment’s prohibition extends to those symbols and practices.
  • While the Court reversed Bailey’s conviction “[w]ithout imputing any actual motive to oppress,” 114 and invidious intent it thus not a part of the burden a thirteenth amendment challenge to a statute must carry, the pervasive presence of such intent strengthens a thirteenth amendment challenge by reinforcing the suspicion that the statute would ratify systematic oppression. Sexism is as pervasive in the anti-abortion world view as racism was in the Southern peonage system. Just as Southern Whites typically assumed that blacks were lazy and irresponsible, the ant-i-abortion world view typically belittles women’s capacity for moral agency, often supposing that womenwho abort simply do not and cannot understand what they are doing.115 (George Bush seems to have reflected that idea in his hastily drafted campaign proposal to impose criminal penalties, not on women who abort, but on the doctors who help them.116) Again, the reliance on specious “consent” implies that it really does not matter whether this servitude is voluntary or not. Ust as the white landowners tended to think that agricultural labor, whether forced or willing, was a suitable role for blacks, so opponents of abortion tend to think that motherhood, whether forced or willing, is a suitable role for women. The “right to life” position, which dismisses a woman’s desire to control the course of her life as arising from “convenience, whim, or caprice,” 117 is intimately linke to the traditional view that it is ridiculous and inappropriate for women to have or pursue such desires, and that the capacities of women, but not of men, are properly exercised “not for self-development, but for self-renunciation.”118 Laws against abortion place the state’s imprimatur on that view by imposing criminal punishment on those who deviate from it. In both cases, the insult is the same: to the extent that either blacks or women are regarded as instruments for satisfying the needs of others rather than as autonomous agents, their dignity as free persons is violated.
  • Pro-life activists tend to believe that “men are best suited to the public world of work, and women are best suited to rear children, manage homes, and love and care for husbands.” K. Luker, Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood 160 (1984).
    These views on the different nature of men and women and the roles appropriate to each combine to make abortion look wrong three times over. First, it is intrinsically wrong because it takes a human life and what makes women special is their ability to nourish life Second, it is wrong because “by giving women control over their fertility”, it breaks up an intricate set of social relationships between men and women that had traditionally surrounded (and in the ideal case protected) women and children. Third and finally, abortion is wrong because it fosters and supports a world view that de-emphasized (and therefore “downgrades”) the traditional roles of men and women. Because these roles have been satisfying ones for pro-life people and because they believe this emotional and social division of labor is both “appropriate and natural,” the act of abortion is wrong because it plays havoc with this arrangement of the world.
  • Louisiana on Wednesday passed a bill to ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detected, making the state the ninth this year to pass abortion restrictions that could challenge the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade.
    Earlier this month, Alabama legislators voted to ban abortions in nearly all cases. Other measures, like Louisiana’s, have limited the procedure to earlier in pregnancy, typically around six weeks. Here is how limits on abortion have changed across the states this year:
    Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio stopped short of outright bans, instead passing so-called heartbeat bills that effectively prohibit abortions after six to eight weeks of pregnancy, when doctors can usually start detecting a fetal heartbeat. Utah and Arkansas voted to limit the procedure to the middle of the second trimester.
    Most other states follow the standard set by the Supreme Court’s Roe decision in 1973, which says abortion is legal until the fetus reaches viability, usually at 24 to 28 weeks.
  • In recent years, Republican legislators successfully pushed bills to restrict abortion by targeting providers, for example through mandating waiting periods for patients or hospital admitting privileges for doctors. Many states limited the procedure to 22 weeks, but until this year, six-week bans were largely seen as too extreme; two that passed, in Iowa and North Dakota, were later struck down in court.
    Abortion rights advocates say limiting the procedure to before six weeks in pregnancy is effectively a complete ban, since most people do not learn they are pregnant until later.
  • “The appointment of Kavanaugh focused legislators across the country on abortion,” said Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that supports abortion rights. “It focused conservative legislators to pass abortion restrictions that they hope will be challenged and end up before the court, so the court can undermine or overturn abortion rights.”
    “It is also focused progressive legislators like those in New York to pass laws that protect abortion rights in their own states,” she added. In January, New York enacted a measure that guarantees a “fundamental right” to abortion in the state.
  • The change of stance by the three once-leading advocates of abortion “illustrates that no one is immune to a guilty conscience,” said Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in a statement released at the news conference. “It shows that speaking the truth in love can free many who are trapped in the dungeon of the pro-death culture.
    “We are winning the battle of hearts and minds for the lives of the unborn.”
  • “I don’t think the most damaging issue in this country is poverty, as important as the issue is,” Land said, agreeing that the country needs to work to alleviate poverty and that the government has a measure of responsibility in the effort.
    “Yet not a single day has gone by in the last 32 years that I have not personally grieved and prayed for the 4,000 babies -- disproportionately African American -- who have been aborted,” Land continued. “I believe government has a responsibility to protect life. That includes unborn life. I personally will not rest until they are protected.”
    The most dangerous place an American has been over the past 32 years is his or her mother’s womb, Land said, noting there is a 33 percent chance of a child being killed between conception and birth.
  • Interrupting Land, an unidentified audience member shouted, “Do you expect us to believe that? I can’t believe you can say that with a straight face” that abortion is a more important issue than poverty.
    “Poverty is a new form of abortion,” Span interjected. “The difference between the doctor who does an abortion and poverty is that one aborts before the baby is born; the other aborts after the baby is born. “Poverty is a form of violence, of terrorism,” he asserted.
    If one is concerned about life, he should be concerned about it “from the womb to the tomb,” Span added. “Otherwise, it is absolutely egregious and sinful to fight for a life to be born and then abandon it to poverty and destruction after it is born.”
    Land responded, “I specifically said I wasn’t doing that,” acknowledging, “There are some prudential arguments that we can have about the best way to eliminate poverty.”
  • DeWayne Wickham of USA Today asked Land if he is “as passionately opposed to infant mortality, the under-funding of Head Start and the death penalty” as he is to abortion.
    Wickham said the three issues all “tend to take life away from people.”
    Land said, “We are committed to eliminating poverty and the kind of grinding poverty that would be reflected in infant mortality,” while expressing shame that in U.S. law allows a “partially born full-term baby -- that could survive if it were just put into an incubator -- to be killed.”
    “We don’t believe that any human being ought to have the absolute right of life and death over another human being, even its mother,” Land said.
  • A judge in San Diego ruled yesterday that an anti-abortion center misled women when it advertised free pregnancy tests and pregnancy "options counseling."
    The judge said that the center must tell every caller that its counseling is "from a Biblical anti-abortion perspective," and that it neither performs abortions nor provides abortion referrals.
    In a broad ruling, the court also barred the service, the Center for Unplanned Pregnancy, from performing pregnancy tests, even with simple over-the-counter kits, and prohibited the center from advertising in the yellow pages under listings for "clinics," "abortion service providers," "birth control information" or "pregnancy options counseling”.
  • Advertising by anti-abortion centers, often known as crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy counseling services, has been debated for a decade. In 1991, at hearings on the issue, Congress estimated that there were 2,000 such centers nationwide, many advertising themselves as abortion clinics, and the lawmakers wrote guidelines for telephone companies in handling their advertising.
    But enforcement of the guidelines has been spotty, said Leslie Sebastian, special projects coordinator of Planned Parenthood of San Diego and Riverside Counties, the group that sued in San Diego.
    "False advertising by bogus clinics has been a big problem, and there have been cases in New York, San Francisco, Texas and elsewhere in which judges took small steps to prevent misleading ads," Ms. Sebastian said. "But this goes much further than any of the previous cases. These bogus clinics were designed to trick people, because it was the only way to get them in the door."
    Ms. Sebastian said it was particularly significant that Superior Court Judge Alpha L. Montgomery prohibited the center from performing pregnancy tests.
    "These places don't have anyone with medical training," she said. "It's true that you can buy a pregnancy test kit over the counter. You can buy a diabetes test kit over the counter, too, but we don't want people all over the country opening diabetes clinics without any medical training."
  • In 1995, McCorvey returned to the national spotlight as an evangelical Christian and a vocal opponent of abortion rights. Her religious conversion, however, may not have been fueled by faith but instead by opportunity. McCorvey was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by Operation Rescue, now known as Operation Save America, according to a documentary premiering Friday on FX and Saturday on Hulu. The modern Operation Rescue is a different organization opposing abortion rights.
    Directed by Nick Sweeney, the film, "AKA Jane Roe," traces McCorvey's dramatic journey from pro-abortion rights hero to anti-abortion rights advocate and back again, framing her as a mercenary who wanted to make amends through a "death bed confession."
    "I was the big fish," McCorvey says in the documentary. "I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they put me out in front of the cameras and told me what to say, and that's what I'd say."
    The bombshell revelation is supported throughout the film by statements from two religious leaders who worked closely with McCorvey.
    "What we did with Norma was highly unethical. The jig is up," says the Rev. Rob Schenck, who says he wants to set the record straight by publicly admitting for the first time that McCorvey was paid to pose as an anti-abortion rights activist.
    "I knew what we were doing, and there were times I wondered, 'Is she playing us?' And what I didn't have the guts to say was 'because I know damn well we were playing her,'" says Schenck, who is now the president of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Institute, a Washington-based think tank. Schenck wrote in The New York Times last year that he now opposes overturning Roe v. Wade.
  • This chapter will argue that such a pervasive misapprehension about the historical status of abortion is due in large part of the effects of the first “right-to-life” movement in the United States, which took place approximately between 1850 and 1890. This movement, composed primarily of physicians, made what was in the context a novel claim: that abortion at all periods of pregnancy was murder. In view of the success of this first movement, there is a further irony in the fact that when we look closely at the circumstances and behavior of these nineteenth-century physicians, we find that even most of them were not certain that abortion was really murder and that their opposition to abortion was based on more complicated motives than a desire to protect embryonic life.
  • [S]ome antiabortion activists, such as David Reardon of the Elliot Institute, an antiabortion advocacy group, have scoured existing survey data for evidence linking abortion and a wide variety of mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and alcohol use. They cite any correlations they find as evidence that abortion causes harm to women.
  • The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a Kentucky abortion law to stand that requires an abortionist to perform an ultrasound and describe the image to the mother and allow her to hear the heartbeat of the fetus before terminating it.
    The court declined to reconsider an appeals court ruling upholding the Kentucky Ultrasound Informed Consent Act after the American Civil Liberties Union brought a case on behalf of the state’s only abortion clinic saying the “display and describe” requirement violates physicians’ First Amendment rights by forcing them to show their patients images they do not wish to see.
    No justices dissented from the decision not to hear the case.
    Kentucky argued that the law supports an ” informed-consent process” and “does nothing more than require that women who are considering an abortion be provided with information that is truthful, non-misleading and relevant to their decision of whether to have an abortion.”
  • Recent news stories about the new vitality of the antiabortion movement and its legislative achievements — more than a dozen states enacting record numbers of abortion restrictions this year — have glossed over one crucial fact. The most visible, entrepreneurial and passionate advocates for the rights of the unborn (as they would put it) are women. More to the point: They are youngish Christian working mothers with children at home.
  • Abortion rights activists, take note. These women represent a major strategic shift in the abortion war, and not just because they are generally more likable than the old, white fathers of the antiabortion movement: Jerry Falwell, Henry Hyde, Jesse Helms and Pat Robertson, who in 1991 accused Planned Parenthood of “teaching kids to fornicate, teaching people to have adultery, every kind of bestiality, homosexuality, lesbianism — everything that the Bible condemns.” Their approach to working and mothering — “I’m just doing the best I can, like you” — also reverses decades of harsh judgments from such female leaders on the right as Beverly LaHaye and Phyllis Schlafly.
    Most important, they are revising the terms of engagement. Antiabortion activists have traditionally focused their energies on the rights of the fetus. But on the question of women’s rights and women’s health, the old-school warriors have been more vulnerable. What is a poor woman with no support system and a bunch of kids at home to do in the event of an unwanted pregnancy? The old white men couldn’t give an answer. They came across not just as unsympathetic. They were uncomprehending. Simply put, they could not relate.
  • Intelligent design proponents aren't the only religious conservatives who have adopted the trappings of science. Take David Reardon, an Illinois-based researcher who during the 1980s set out to prove that abortion causes mental illness, chemical dependency, and a range of other poor health outcomes in women. It's true that women sometimes feel temporarily depressed or guilty after an abortion. But the notion that abortion regularly causes severe or clinical mental problems has been rejected by, among others, a group of experts convened by the American Psychological Association and Ronald Reagan's surgeon general, C. Everett Koop.
  • In a major political tsunami, the US. Supreme Court handed down its decisions in the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton cases on January 22, 1973. Abortion prohibition laws of all fifty states were swept away, and other countries were influences accordingly. Despite existing before then, the right-to-life movement in the United States generally regards that day as the starting point of its struggle.
    How successful has the movement been in the United States? Measuring its success in the narrow terms of being able to overturn Roe v. Wade is remarkably inadequate. It would only mean legislation ‘’can’’ be passed, not that it ‘’will’ be. There is also only so much legislation alone can do. But there has been remarkable success in two other areas.
    The first area is the impact of the practice of abortion itself. In the United States, the raw numbers, the abortion rate per number of women, and ratio of abortions to live births have all been dropping steadily for several years. The number of abortion clinics in the United States has dropped precipitously, from over 2,000 in 1990to less than 700 by 2005. Abortion has become more concentrated in these clinics, away from the hospitals, which means that the drop in clinics is indeed a dramatic drop in availability.
    Furthermore , the numbers of abortions are being kept up by repeat abortions. The drop in first-time abortions is truly dramatic. Because no one can have a repeat abortion without having a first abortion, and because repeat abortions will stop as women pass reproductive age, an even more dramatic decline can be expected over the next few years.
    The stigma on doctors who perform abortions has never entirely disappeared, even among people who support abortion. The idea of increasing the number of abortion providers by qualifying non-doctors to perform them could have a boomerang effect: How many doctors will continue if non-doctors can do it? This would take away the one shred of reputation they have left.
    Therefore, the abortion business is currently in a state of deep decline, at least in the United States. The collapse of the business is well underway, and many of the support necessary to keep it from collapsing further are not in place. No is this merely a wishful-thinking bias of opponents. For example, the lead attorney in the Roe v. Wade case, Sarah Weddington, said, “When I look back at the decision, I thought these words had been written in granite. But I’ve learned it was not granite. It was more like sandstone. The immediate problem is, where will the doctors come from?
    This is the view in the United States. The situation varies much more in other countries, with upsurges and subsidings. Poland is a country which had widespread legalized abortion and later banned it. The maternal death rate went down, contrary to the expectations of abortion defenders.
    The second area where the right-to-life movement has been remarkably successful is in stopping the slide down the slippery slope. Some predicted that once abortion was legalized, infanticide and euthanasia of the disabled would follow. Attempts occurred in abundance and used Roe v. Wade as a precedent. Yet, infanticide is not widespread, and the margins of euthanasia are still being argued in most places. The juggernaut has not picked up steam as much as it surely would have, had there not been an energetic right-to-life movement opposing it.
  • Let us set aside the lunatic fringes-the yellers and haters, bombers and shooters-that all large movement have and are damaged by. They are clearly inconsistent with the goals of any movement against violence and accordingly are commonly condemned.
    The deeper question is, what has it done to the peace movement to have so many of its members assume that a “pro-choice” stand is part of the program?
    The peace movement is losing influence on many people of tender conscience who are concerned about preventing violence against unborn children and believe that such violence also hurts their mothers. How many such people disbelieve our rhetoric of ‘’peace’’, when they perceive it as not consistently applied?
    The impact of the abortion debate on politics is excruciating to the fragile peace goals. Elections have something called the “pro-life increment,” defined as the votes a candidate gains from opposing abortion minus the votes lost. Polls consistently show that it has been an important factor in close races all over te United States since 1980, most commonly around 3-4 percent of the total votes. This factor sometimes helps the candidate who is better on peace and justice issues, such as Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania. But it frequently helps the candidate who is worse on such issues from a peace movement point of view.
    If we in the peace movement lose out impact on elections, on legislation, and on policy because of defending abortion, is this loss the price we pay for standing up for our principles? Or is it instead a price the victims of war pay?
  • The NAE is pleased that some longtime opponents in the debate over the legality of abortion have expressed interest in working together to dramatically reduce the incidence of abortion in the United States. Without compromising our core convictions, we seek honest conversation about ways to achieve this goal. These conversations should build on our shared concerns for human dignity, protecting children and promoting healthy families and communities.
    We understand that the problem of abortion is interconnected with other challenges in our society. Given the generative nature of human sexuality, we recognize an inherent link between respect for God’s gift of sex and respect for God’s gift of life. Sex is a precious gift from God intended for a man and a woman to consummate marriage, procreate, express love and experience pleasure within an exclusive covenantal relationship. The Church is called to teach and model the blessings of sexual purity and to uphold marriage and the family, society’s fundamental building blocks.
  • Medical professionals who provide abortion services do so at a tremendous risk to their safety. Since 1993, three doctors who provided abortions have been murdered, and five others have been shot at by anti-abortion zealots in the US and Canada. A clinic escort and three clinic employees have been murdered, and several other clinic staff have been shot. Violence against providers also includes bombings, arson, vandalism, burglary, illegal blockades, threats and harassment.
    Frivolous malpractice lawsuits against abortion providers are also generated by anti-choice extremists who want to keep providers from offering abortion services. These lawsuits are rarely justified, but they are used unfairly to discredit the reputations of providers and frighten patients.
    • "Access to Abortion" (PDF). National Abortion Federation. 2003. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 19, 2007. Retrieved June 17, 2007. p.2
  • In the name of "life," the anti-abortion army has bombed or set fire to more than 100 clinics over the past 15 years, invaded more than 300 and vandalized more than 400.
    • "The Death of Dr. Gunn". The New York Times. 12 March 1993. Archived
  • This article analyzes pro-life feminist claims with particular attention to how the pro-life feminist movement attempts to shape college students' attitudes about abortion and understandings of feminism. I explore the messages within pro-life feminist literature and Feminists for Life of America's (FFL) College Outreach Program activist strategies since the mid-1990s, focusing on its campus visits and "Question Abortion" poster campaign launched in 2000–01. Pro-life feminism represents a small social movement, yet offers a focus for critical analysis of how pro-life feminists seek to frame abortion politics and contest the scope of feminism as it influences younger women. FFL's campaign defines their anti-abortion ideology as the truly woman-centered, historically feminist position. Pro-life feminists claim to represent best the interests of younger women and feminism, and demonstrate an anti-abortion strategy framed both as a challenge to and an embracing of the contested field of feminism.
  • Since the early 1970s, self-identified pro-life feminists in the United States have argued that a feminist movement in support of abortion rights is not in the best interests of women because abortion condones violence against women and fetuses, causes emotional and physical suffering for women, and contributes to the social devaluation of motherhood (see MacNair, Derr, and Naranjo-Huebl 1995, 2005). My study of pro-life feminist literature and associated college outreach advocacy is motivated by the growing visibility of the lead pro-life feminist organization Feminists for Life of America (FFL), a student's question to me in an introduction to women's studies lecture about whether all feminists "have to be" pro-choice, and reports from women's studies professors about students aligning themselves with pro-life feminism.1
    This article analyzes pro-life feminist perspectives with particular attention to how one pro-life feminist organization works to shape U.S. college students' attitudes about abortion and understandings of feminism. FFL started its Campus Outreach Program in the mid-1990s, and has been working nationally to attract college students to the anti-abortion cause by de-emphasizing divisive legal debates and presenting an anti-abortion position as the truly woman-centered, historically feminist position.
  • "We don't know what's going to happen until the Supreme Court takes one of these cases. There are 13 cases in the pipeline right now. Whether the Supreme Court is going to take up one of those cases and what they're going to say is unknown, but we're deeply concerned."
    In a Thursday statement, Amiri warned that the Ohio legislature's recent actions are a "harbinger of things to come" when it comes to states restricting abortion access.
    "We're concerned this is the first of several states that will try to ban abortion, which is why people need to stay vigilant," Amiri added. "I was a little surprised that Ohio was so quick to do so, and it makes me deeply concerned that other states will be acting quickly when the legislatures come back in session in 2019 in other states."
    Amiri said she has just one message for the Ohio state government if they pass the six-week ban: "we'll see you in court."
  • Nellie Gray — who founded the March for Life 36 years ago — pines for some meaningful attention from the press. Her marchers were to hit the streets near the Capitol on Thursday, virtually retracing the steps of an estimated 1.8 million inaugural revelers whose every move was chronicled by a crush of media just two days earlier.
    Perhaps journalists are just tired.
    The chances are good, however, that news organizations will not be in close attendance for the pro-life crowds. The event has not been much of a press draw over time, and this year would seem particularly bleak.
    “I’m not complaining that the news people covered the inauguration so closely. It’s all right. We do have a press platform at our march, and I have seen cameras there in the past. But what we usually end up with is a story with a tiny little comment from one individual marcher,” Miss Gray said.
  • Miss Gray had no predictions about how many would march on Thursday, although the event has consistently drawn about 250,000 participants since 2003. About 16,000 Catholic college students were planning to attend — according to the Catholic News Service — including the entire student body of [[w:Magdalen College in New Hampshire.
    “Anyone climbing on a bus from somewhere else, thinking they’re going to wave into a network news camera, is going to be very disappointed. In the last 20 years, despite large annual crowds, the liberal manufacturers of TV have simply never found the March for Life to be the slightest bit newsworthy,” said Tim Graham of the Media Research Center, drawing a comparison to a liberal antiwar activist.
  • Cleveland's first March for Life was low-key, as marches go.
    More than 200 abortion opponents huddled Saturday at noon to pray at Perk Park, then fanned to the sidewalks of East 12th Street, trudging the two blocks to PlayhouseSquare in a wind chill of minus-8 degrees.
    Some carried signs, proclaiming "Love them both" or "Created in God's image." Some sang "God Bless America." Most simply walked. <br "This was not a confrontational march," said Anne Robins, executive director of LifeWorks Ohio, who helped organize the march with Cleveland Right to Life. "It's a call to prayer."
    While teenagers have gathered for the Youth Rally for Life downtown at Public Square every January since 1980, Cleveland anti-abortion groups had never before organized a march similar to the Washington March for Life, which draws 200,000 annually on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.
    • Johnston, Laura. "Cleveland's first March for Life anti-abortion event draws 200", The Plain Dealer (January 18, 2009): (Archived (March 9, 2021)
  • "I think it's a beautiful testament to a culture of life," said Brother Raphael O'Hearn, a 24-year-old Benedictine monk. "There's hope for the pro-life movement. Hearts will be changed."
    O'Hearn chatted with teen members of the Pro-Life Youth Congress, mentioning the movie "Juno," about a teenager who has a baby after an unplanned pregnancy. Other participants talked about President-elect Barack Obama and a bill -- introduced in Congress in past years -- called the Freedom of Choice Act.
    The bill would make it illegal for government to interfere with a woman's right to choose to bear a child or terminate a pregnancy or to discriminate against that right. Anti-abortion groups argue it would overturn the ban on so-called partial-birth abortions, as well as myriad state laws restricting abortion. They also worry it would force taxpayers to pay for abortions.
    Since Obama told the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in 2007 that he would sign the bill if elected, abortion opponents have been concerned about its future.
    "He said he would sign it if it crosses his desk," said Lou Koenig of Parma. "We're going to make sure it doesn't."
    State Rep. Josh Mandel, a Republican from Lyndhurst, and Ohio Christian Alliance President Chris Long also spoke against the bill, urging people to call, e-mail and send letters to their congressional representatives. On Saturday, participants filled out postcards to send to U.S. Sens. George Voinovich and Sherrod Brown.
    Voinovich will fight to keep the bill from becoming law, a spokesman said. Brown supports a woman's right to choose, a spokeswoman said, adding that the bill is not on the agenda for the upcoming sessions of Congress'.
    Spokeswomen for the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood said those groups expect to focus on preventing pregnancy, rather than the Freedom of Choice Act.
    • Johnston, Laura. "Cleveland's first March for Life anti-abortion event draws 200", The Plain Dealer, (January 18, 2009): (Archived (March 9, 2021)
  • Stupak, too, knew that the executive order was merely political cover for him and his pro-life colleagues. He knew it because several members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explained it to him, according to sources. The only way to prevent public funding for abortion was for his amendment to be added to the Senate bill.
    Clearly, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the president didn't want that. What they did want was the abortion funding that the Senate bill allowed.
    Thus, the health-care bill passed because of a mutually understood deception -- a pretense masquerading as virtue. No wonder Stupak locked his doors and turned off his phones on Sunday, according to several pro-life lobbyists who camped outside his office.
  • Stupak's clumsy fall from grace is a lesson in human frailty. In a matter of hours, he went from representing the majority of Americans who don't want public money spent on abortion to leading the army on the other side.
    Something must have gone bump in the night.
    Whatever it was, demonizing Stupak seems excessive and redundant given punishments to come. Already he has lost a speaking invitation to the Illinois Catholic Prayer Breakfast next month. His political future, otherwise, may have been foretold by a late-night anecdote.
  • Should graphic photos of babies who have been killed by abortion be used by pro-lifers who demonstrate on public sidewalks?
    Even among those who oppose abortion, answers to this question vary. The dispute was recently brought to my attention again by a news article describing the concern of residents of a certain area that the graphic photos used by local pro-lifers disturbed the children.
    I have demonstrated against abortion on the public sidewalks of almost every major city in America. I have used graphic images and have watched their effect. I am convinced they should be used, and here are some of the reasons.
    1) The word abortion has lost practically all its meaning. Not even the most vivid description, in words alone, can adequately convey the horror of this act of violence. Abortion is sugar-coated by rhetoric which hides its gruesome nature. The procedure is never shown in the media. Too many people remain either in ignorance or denial about it, and hence too few are moved to do something to stop it. Graphic images are needed. A picture is worth a thousand words -- and in this battle, it can be worth many lives as well.
  • In the landmark Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case on June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that two abortion restrictions in Texas are unconstitutional because they would shut down most clinics in the state and cause Texans an “undue burden” to access safe, legal abortion. The case exposed the lie that anti-abortion politicians have been peddling for years: that it’s somehow “safer” when the state imposes medically unnecessary, onerous restrictions on health centers and clinicians that provide abortions. With this historic decision, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the constitutional right to access legal abortion.
  • If the abortion debate were really about abortion, Reagan's work would consign many of its terms to the scrap heap: it seems absurd to suggest that the overburdened mothers, desperate young girls, and precariously employed working women who populate these pages risked public humiliation, injury, and death for mere "convenience," much less out of "secular humanism" or a Lockean notion of property rights in their bodies. It's even more preposterous—not to mention insulting—to see them as standing in relation to their fetuses as a slaveowner to a slave or a Nazi to a Jew.
    Reagan suggests that the abortion debate is really an ideological struggle over the position of women. How free should they be to have sexual experiences, in or out of marriage, without paying the price of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood? How much right should they have to consult their own needs, interests, and well-being with respect to childbearing or anything else? How subordinate should they be to men, how deeply embedded in the family, how firmly controlled by national or racial objectives? If she is right, and I think she is, a work of history is not going to make much of a dent in the certainties of those who would like to see abortion once again made a crime.
  • In a forthcoming documentary called AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey claimed she became a pro-life activist not because she regretted her decision, as she told the public, but for money.
    The documentary shows evidence that McCorvey had been paid at least $456,911 in gifts by anti-abortion groups.
  • NEWPORT — Rachael Hunter and her mom, Denise, are grateful her teenage parents chose life.
    The 17-year-old was adopted because her birth parents were too young and couldn’t care for her.
    “I’m adopted and I realize how hard it was for them to choose life,” she explained this week.
    Rachael and her mom were among dozens of Monroe County resident who participated last month in the March for Life walk in Washington, D.C.
    Fourteen students from Lutheran High School South participated in the event, which was the first time for the school.
    More than 650,000 people participated in the annual event, this year marking the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that created a constitutionalright to abortion in some circumstances.
    The walk was about one mile beginning at the Washington Monument and ending at the steps of the Supreme Court.
    “I think it’s important as young people that we went,” Rachael said. “We are the younger generation and we are growing up to be the voters. Younger people listen better to their peers than adults.”
    Mrs. Hunter, a Gibraltar resident, went to the march on the 30th anniversary of the decision.
    “When I went, it planted the seed that this would be a great thing to take young people to,” she said. “I wanted to take a bus trip down and educate the students about abortion.”
    The maternity ward nurse coordinated the trip, which also included 40 members of Redeemer Fellowship Church in Monroe.
    Pro-life advocates packed the National Mall, holding signs and shouting phrases about choosing life.
    Ashley Jordan, 15, explained the scene as “crazy.”
    “There were so many people and it was great to see them all,” she said.
    For Ashley, participating in the march was a way to make a difference.
    “It’s important because one person can still make a big difference,” she said. “There were more than a half million people but that doesn’t compare to all of those babies who were aborted.”
    Each student from the school who participated in the march created signs with varying messages including, “Why say no to life when you can say yes,” and “Life is precious. Don’t waste it.”
    The students were emotionally impacted when they saw pictures of aborted fetuses during their walk.
    “It made me want to cry,” Casey Dutcher, 16, said.
    Alexis Starman, 15, has learned a lot about abortion after coming to the school and participating in March of Life.
    “I grew up without much knowledge of abortion and I had friends who were pregnant as teens. Abortion is murder,” Alexis said. “I think a lot of teens who are pregnant think they are in trouble and need a solution.”
    Students listened to speakers including former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum.
    During the bus ride, the students spoke with a woman who had several abortions and regrets them.
    “She was raped four times as a teen and had three abortions and a miscarriage,” Rachael explained. “She was forced to do it and regrets it.”
    Bethani Meeks, 17, said she hears people say a baby isn’t alive until its born.
    “It’s breathing in the womb and people are killing an innocent child,” she said as to why she wanted to participate.
    Though the students said they enjoyed the experience, it was difficult at times. It also has started conversations with their friends who didn’t attend.
    “When I got back, my friends were interested in the trip and talking about what happened,” Christyne Hilken said. “It was a sad vibe there, but loving.”
    • Portteus, Danielle (February 10, 2013). "Newport: 650,000 In March For Life". The Monroe News. MonroeNews. Archived from the original on February 13, 2014. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
  • The news that Norma was seeking her child had angered some in the pro-life camp. “What is she going to say to that child when she finds him?” a spokesman for the National Right to Life Committee had asked a reporter rhetorically. “‘I want to hold you now and give you my love, but I’m still upset about the fact that I couldn’t abort you’?”
  • Norma wanted the very thing that Shelley did not—a public outing in the pages of a national tabloid. Shelley now saw that she carried a great secret. To speak of it even in private was to risk it spilling into public view. Still, she asked a friend from secretarial school named Christie Chavez to call Hanft and Fitz. The aim was to have a calm third party hear them out. Chavez took careful notes. The news was not all bad: The Enquirer would withhold Shelley’s name. But it would not kill the story. And Hanft and Fitz warned ominously, as Chavez wrote in her neat cursive notes on the conversation, that without Shelley’s cooperation, there was the possibility that a mole at the paper might “sell her out.” After all, they told Chavez, the pro-life movement “would love to show Shelley off” as a “healthy, happy and productive” person.
  • Pro-life state legislators are pushing several measures that critics view as restrictions on abortion, and most Americans agree that two of these proposals are at least somewhat likely to reduce the number of abortions in America.
    New South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard is expected to sign a just-passed law in his state that would require women seeking an abortion to wait three days and have counseling about adoption and other parenting issues before undergoing the procedure. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 65% of American Adults support a three-day waiting period and counseling before an abortion. Twenty-four percent (24%) oppose such a requirement, and another 11% are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)
    Sixty-five percent (65%) also believe the waiting period and counseling are at least somewhat likely to reduce the number of abortions, including 33% who say they are Very Likely to do so. Thirty percent (30%) think the requirement is unlikely to reduce the prevalence of abortion, with seven percent (7%) who say it's Not At All Likely to have that effect.
    Support is much lower for a bill approved by Texas lawmakers that requires pregnant women to see an ultrasound image (also known as a sonogram) of their fetus and to hear the fetus' heartbeat before having an abortion. Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans favor the measure, while 38% are opposed. Fourteen percent (14%) are not sure about it.
    However, 62% think it is at least somewhat likely that such a law would reduce the number of abortions, including 32% who say it is Very Likely. Thirty-one percent (31%) think such an outcome is unlikely, but that includes just seven percent (7%) who say it is Not At All Likely.
  • The most radical of pro-life supporters adopted direct action. They set up picketing and other denominations at the entrances of clinics or medical offices that offer abortion procedures. Pro-choice groups, working through the courts and through legislatures, gradually forced legal restrictions on such tactics, leading to the passage in 1994 of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE). The law required protesters to maintain a physical distance from the clinics and to allow free entrance and exit from the facilities. The statute was challenged by pro-life groups, which claimed that it was an abridgement of free-speech rights, but was eventually upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
    Other pro-life tactics have included the dissemination of pamphlets, books, videos, and other media material intended to provoke disgust at the “grisly” nature of abortion. The film ‘’Silent Scream’’ (1984), produced by Bernard Nathanson, a former NARAL supporter who became a pro-life doctor, shows an ultrasound of an abortion performed at eleven weeks. The narration provided by Nathanson claims to show the fetus experiencing pain and fear in the process, a claim that has been disputed by medical professionals. In a similar tactic, Operation Rescue also staged “Truth Trucks,” or large traveling displays showing photographs of developing and aborted fetuses.
  • Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs), which are fake clinics run by opponents of abortion, are well-known for lying to clients in order to convince them not to seek abortion care. But the lies told within the walls of CPCs aren’t just contained there; they are part and parcel of the anti-abortion movement in the U.S.
  • The antiabortion campaign was antifeminist at its core. Women were condemned for following “fashion” and for avoiding the self-sacrifice expected of mothers. “The true wife,” Storer declared, did not seek “undue power in public life, . . . undue control in domestic affairs, . . . [or] privileges other own.” The antiabortion campaign was a reactionary response to two important efforts of the nineteenth-century women’s movements: the fight to admit women into the regular medical profession and the battle to make men conform to a single standard of sexual behavior. The antiabortion campaign coincided with the fight by male Regulars to keep women out of their medical schools, societies, and hospitals. Boston and Harvard University, Storer’s hometown and alma mater, were key sites of struggle over women’s place in medicine, and Storer was personally engaged in the battle against female physicians. Advocates of women in medicine argued that women doctors would protect women patients from sexual violation. Regular male doctors regarded female physicians by accusing them, along with midwives, of performing abortions.
  • The relative morality of men and women was of crucial importance to this campaign. For the specialists, whose interest in the female reproductive system raised questions about their sexual morality, the antiabortion campaign as a way to proclaim their sexual morality, the antiabortion campaign as a way to proclaim their own high morality in contrast to their competitors, their female patients, and even the ministers who tolerated abortion. It was at the same time a backlash against the women’s movement’s critique of male sexual behavior and feminist claims to political power. Nineteenth-century feminists expressed their anger with male sexual domination and promiscuity in a number of movements, including the campaigns against prostitution nd slavery and the fight for temperance. All sections of the women’s movement advocated “voluntary motherhood,”” a slogan that addressed both men’s sexual violation of their wives and women’s desire to control childbearing. Women saw themselves as morally superior and urged meant to adopt a single standard-the female standard of chastity until marriage, followed by monogamy and moderation. The campaign against abortion challenged this feminist analysis of men by condemning women for having abortions. Indeed, Storer compared abortion to prostitution and, I so doing, called in question all claims made by middle-class nineteenth-century women on the basis of moral superiority. “There is little difference,” he proclaimed, “between the immorality” of the man who visited prostitutes and the woman who aborted. The nineteenth-century women’s movements never defended abortion, but activist women and women doctors were blamed for the practice of abortion nonetheless.
  • For years, Dr. Tiller had been targeted by prosecutors, grand jury investigations, and legislators and subjected to harassment, threats, and violent assaults at his clinic and his home. His murder highlighted-again-the terrorism that physicians face when they perform abortions to honor women’s requests and to save women’s lives. It reminded Americans of the bravery of abortion provider, a type of bravery not required of other health-care providers. Dr. Tiller was mourned in vigils across the country for his gentle medical practice, his absolute commitment to serving his patients in need, and his trust in women (as a placard in his office declared). These were more than memorials, however. The candlelight vigils signaled a new struggle against domestic terrorism emanating from the extreme Right as well as a renewed commitment to reproductive justice. The political, medical, and legal ramifications of Dr. Tiller’s murder are in progress.
  • Normally, when we value something, we think this thing is good, and its goodness exercises a pull on our rational judgments and actions in all temporal directions. The goodness of something is roughly equally a reason for preserving existing ones and for producing new ones. Thus the normal way we value things is symmetric between existing ones and future ones. Such valuing will imply that killing one human and replacing her with a new one yields no net loss in value and that refusing to procreate deprives the world of as much value as does killing. To account for the valuing of life that underlies our common beliefs about the wrongness or murder, then, we need to find a reasonable way of valuing human life asymmetrically.
  • There are two inconsistencies in the “pro-life” movement from the viewpoint of pro-choices:
    There appears to be relatively little mention of IUD’s (Intra-uterine devices). The precise mechanism by which IUDS prevent pregnancy is unknown.
    Some researchers believe that the IUD immobilizes sperm, preventing them from reaching the ovum.
    Others believe that it causes the ovum to pass through the fallopian tube so fast that it is unlikely to be fertilizes.
    Most believe that the IUD interferes with the implantation of fertilized ovum in the uterine wall.
    If the third property is true, then IUDs terminate the development of a fertilized ovum after conception, and cause its expulsion from the body. To a person who believes that human personhood begins at the instant of conception, there is no difference between using an IUD, having a first trimester abortion, or having a partial birth abortion, or –for that matter –strangling a newborn just after birth. Yet pro-life groups actively campaign against PBA’s, picket abortion clinics, and attempt to pass restrictive legislation limiting choice in abortion. Some have made negative statements about IUDs. But none have, to our knowledge, picketed IUD manufacturing facilities, or sponsored anti-IUD legislation. This is surprising, because in those countries where IUDs are widely used, the number of fertilized eggs which IUDs apparently expel from women’s bodies far exceeds the number of surgical abortions. About 43% of American women will have had a surgical abortion sometime during their lifetime. Women who use an IUD will expel about one fertilized ovum annually (assuming that they engage in intercourse once per week)
    IUDS are becoming increasingly popular. Two studies have reported effectiveness rates of 99.4 and 99.9%
    • Religious Tolerance, [www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist1.htm "Current abortion beliefs of religious groups"]
  • The Leavitt/Bush regulation required any entity, including individuals, receiving federal funds through HHS to certify their compliance with federal laws protecting health care providers and personnel from discrimination because of their refusal to participate in or abet in any way the performance of abortion or any other medical actions they find morally or religiously objectionable.
    Several federal laws protect the rights of conscience of health care providers. The Church Amendments and the Hyde/Weldon Amendment to the Labor/HHS annual appropriations bill are described in the Federal Register. It is unclear how those laws will function once the enforcement mechanism is abolished.
  • As a country, we must keep our pledge to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence. That is why we say the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and we endorse legislation to make it clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children. Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions. We oppose using public revenues for abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.
    Our goal is to ensure that women with problem pregnancies have the kind of support, material and otherwise, they need for themselves and for their babies, not to be punitive towards those for whose difficult situation we have only compassion. We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion. We salute those who provide alternatives to abortion and offer adoption services, and we commend Congressional Republicans for expanding assistance to adopting families and for removing racial barriers to adoption. We join the President in supporting crisis pregnancy programs and parental notification laws. And we applaud President Bush for allowing states to extend health care coverage to unborn children.
    • 2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America [1] p.84.
  • We praise the President for his bold leadership in defense of life. We praise him for signing the Born Alive Infants Protection Act. This important legislation ensures that every infant born alive – including an infant who survives an abortion procedure – is considered a person under federal law.
    We praise Republicans in Congress for passing, with strong bipartisan support, a ban on the inhumane procedure known as partial birth abortion. And we applaud President Bush for signing legislation outlawing partial birth abortion and for vigorously defending it in the courts.
    In signing the partial birth abortion ban, President Bush reminded us that “the most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world.” We affirm the inherent dignity and worth of all people. We oppose the non-consensual withholding of care or treatment because of disability, age, or infirmity, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which especially endanger the poor and those on the margins of society. We support President Bush’s decision to restore the Drug Enforcement Administration’s policy that controlled substances shall not be used for assisted suicide. We applaud Congressional Republicans for their leadership against those abuses and their pioneering legislation to focus research and treatment resources on the alleviation of pain and the care of terminally ill patients.
    • 2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America [2] p.84.
  • Ms. Kennedy [Schlossberg], 53, has said that she supports abortion. Raymond Flynn, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican [and a Democrat] said earlier this week that she would be a poor choice. “It’s imperative, it’s essential that the person who represents us to the Holy See be a person who has pro-life values. I hope the President doesn’t make that mistake,” he told the Boston Herald. “She said she was pro-choice. I don’t assume she’s going to change that, which is problematic.” (Telegraph.co.uk, 4/11/09)
  • Some pro-lifers still reject the notion — which should be Scripturally obvious — that we need to advocate for life holistically, at every stage, from womb to tomb because every person is made in God’s image. They suggest instead that unborn children become losers in advocacy for the sanctity of all human life.
    But isn’t that the same argument advanced by the pro-choice community? The pro-choice argument pits some lives (pregnant women) against the lives of others (unborn children). In that case, they value born life but not unborn life.
    We rightfully oppose that approach, because we know that we have no right to make such judgments. In that same vein, however, pro-lifers don’t have the right to declare only unborn life worthy of our attention and priority over already born lives. Why would we suggest advocacy to ensure the unborn child has a right to life only to then also suggest pro-lifers have no business advocating — as pro-lifers — for that same child’s right to stay alive with clean water, nutrition and basic health care? Without those things, children die preventable deaths.
    How could we suggest — as some have — that a focus on the children in foster care is a diversion from real pro-life work when we are often talking about the same child whose right to life we have secured with our advocacy? How do we then abandon that born child to a life of abuse, neglect and even suicide?
    To take that approach is to advance a truncated pro-life ethic whose hypocrisy is apparent to all but ourselves. With a limited pro-life witness, we fail to win over those in the middle on abortion. And without them, unborn lives will continue to be snuffed out in horrifying numbers, even in a post-Roe world. Without wholesale change to the support offered to pregnant women, the future looks far too identical to the present.
  • “The anti-abortion movement has changed their tactics and made significant inroads in changing people’s opinions about abortion,” said poll director Pinkus.
    “Instead of asking for drastic measures, the pro-life movement knows that the only way to diminish support for abortions is to push for incremental legislation.”
  • The strongest pro-life skew is found among Republicans and conservatives, of whom about two-thirds are pro-life. Slight majorities of Catholics, Protestants, nonwhites, Southerners, and seniors are also pro-life.
  • A new Gallup Poll, conducted May 7-10, finds 51% of Americans calling themselves "pro-life" on the issue of abortion and 42% "pro-choice." This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.
    The new results, obtained from Gallup's annual Values and Beliefs survey, represent a significant shift from a year ago, when 50% were pro-choice and 44% pro-life. Prior to now, the highest percentage identifying as pro-life was 46%, in both August 2001 and May 2002.
  • [A] recent national survey by the Pew Research Center recorded an eight percentage-point decline since last August in those saying abortion should be legal in all or most cases, from 54% to 46%. The percentage saying abortion should be legal in only a few or no cases increased from 41% to 44% over the same period. As a result, support for the two broad positions is now about even, sharply different from most polling on this question since 1995, when the majority has typically favored legality.
  • A year ago, Gallup found more women calling themselves pro-choice than pro-life, by 50% to 43%, while men were more closely divided: 49% pro-choice, 46% pro-life. Now, because of heightened pro-life sentiment among both groups, women as well as men are more likely to be pro-life.
    Men and women have been evenly divided on the issue in previous years; however, this is the first time in nine years of Gallup Values surveys that significantly more men and women are pro-life than pro-choice.
  • In Kansas, legislators recently passed the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. If enacted into law, the bill would require doctors to tell pregnant women of a relationship between abortion and breast cancer. This news follows passage by the New Hampshire State House of the Women’s Right To Know Act Regarding Abortion Information. These related laws are unlikely to gain approval by the state senates. But there’s a trend: A similar measure took effect in Texas in February. Now, providers there must inform pregnant women about “the possibility of increased risk of breast cancer following an induced abortion,” the so-called ABC link.
  • The ethical principle of informed consent means this: A patient should know, and understand as best possible, the likely risks and benefits of a medical procedure before signing on. Now, at least five states sponsor misleading, partisan-promoted material on abortion and breast cancer risk.
    Around the country, new choice-cramping laws are in the works. Many of the proposed informational mandates exploit the concept of informed consent to assure its opposite: promulgation of untruths about abortion. These bills appeal, falsely, to reason—with smart-sounding, progressive-seeming phrases, like “a right to know.” They feed on women’s fear of a dreaded disease. Few pregnant women are sufficiently versed in science or statistics to refute their lawmakers’ misconceptions.
  • In 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state laws restricting “abortion” in “Roe. v. Wade”, an anti-abortion movement quickly mobilized. Movement leaders chose the “pro-life”label to put forward a positive image, and to focus attention on their core argument-that abortion amounts to taking the life of an unborn child. Like all social movements, the pro-life movement is decentralized, characterized by competing organizations and leaders, and by diverse arguments and rationales. The Catholic bishops organized first, recommending in 1973 that the U.S. Catholic Conference adopt a coordinated response to the Court’s ruling, and providing key resources to the National Committee for a “human life amendment”, which sought to amend the Constitution to ban abortion. In the late 1970s and 1980s, many fundamentalist, Pentecostal, and evangelical Protestant churches issued official pronouncements against abortion, and the movement was soon characterized by a wide array of groups appealing to different religious communities with different rationales.
    American Catholics, for example, have generally supported the “seamless garment of life” principle, which maintains that life is sacred and therefore proscribes nuclear war and the death penalty as well as abortion. In contrast, Protestants have often linked their opposition to legal abortion to the broader issue of controlling extra-marital sexuality, but not the death penalty or other issues. As a consequence, most but not all pro-life organizations take no official position on any issue-not even contraception.
    The pro-life movement is also divided over strategy. Most activists have given up on an effort to amend the U.S. Constitution to protect fetal life, although several groups continue to pursue this end. A sizeable majority of pro-life groups work within the “Republican Party”, hoping to influence the selection of Supreme Court justices and to nominate and elect more Republicans to enact whatever legislation the Court will permit. Since 1980, when pro-life activists gained control of the Republican platform committee, Republican platforms have called for a human life amendment. Yet, a sizeable minority of pro-life groups and activists are otherwise liberal on political and social issues. Within the Catholic community, the “seamless garment network” of organizations opposes abortion, military spending, and the death penalty, and pushed for social justice on economic issues. A similar network among “peace-church” evangelicals pursues similar goals. Feminists for Life seeks to promote feminist policies on all issues except abortion. These organizations often work at the local level to counsel pregnant women on alternatives to abortion, and seek to support progressive pro-life candidates.
    Some pro-life groups and activists endorse more confrontational tactics. “Operation Rescue” promotes the blockading of abortion clinics, and some activists have resorted to violence, firebombing clinics and even murdering abortion providers. In the 1990s, as it became obvious that the Court would not overturn “Roe v. Wade”, such violence became more common on the fringes of the movement.
  • You don’t have to be religious to have a problem with killing humans. We welcome pro-life activists, closeted pro-lifers, people on the fence, and anyone interested in exploring the secular arguments against abortion.
  • The House of Representatives passed a law on Tuesday banning abortions after 20 weeks across the country, based on the scientifically dubious claim that a fetus can feel pain at that point. The federal “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” draws from a model bill promoted by the National Right to Life and mirrors laws that have passed in a dozen states in the last three years.
  • In the debate on Tuesday, House members repeatedly cited the research of Dr. Kanwaljeet “Sunny” Anand, a University of Tennessee professor of pediatrics, anesthesiology, and neurobiology who has promoted the idea that 20 weeks post-conception is the point when a fetus begins to feel pain. His work, which has been the go-to resource for anti-abortion groups, was mentioned at least four times on the House floor. Citing Anand’s findings, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.) argued that “the baby responds the same way you and I respond to pain, by recoiling.” She went on to claim that the pain of a fetus at 20 weeks is “possibly more intense than that felt by older newborns.”
    But Anand is an outlier. A 2005 paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association surveyed the medical literature and found little evidence to support his conclusions. There is an established body of evidence that finds that fetuses start developing the biological pathways related to pain sensation at this stage of gestation, but there is not enough evidence to suggest that they can actually experience pain as we do. The majority of the scientific literature on the subject finds that the brain connections required to feel pain are not formed until at least 24 weeks.
  • Last August, Missouri Republican Senate candidate Todd Akin ignited a controversy when he stated that victims of “legitimate rape” couldn’t get pregnant because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The sponsor of the House 20-week ban, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), was also criticized last week for arguing in a hearing that the number of pregnancies resulting from rape is “very low.”
  • The imminent inauguration of Barack Obama and the Democratic gains in the 2008 national elections have prompted abortion opponents to go on the offensive.
    Fearing that a Democratic president and Congress will reverse years of incremental legislation limiting abortion, they are planning to demonstrate in huge numbers Thursday to mark the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.
    The annual March for Life procession is already among Washington's largest rallies, drawing an estimated 200,000 people.
  • "We want to let the new administration know we're not going to go away quietly," said Dennis Embo, a paralegal from Raleigh who is one of the coordinators of the N.C. Right to Life March, which was held Saturday in downtown Raleigh.
    Embo, a Catholic who leads the Respect Life Committee at his church, Raleigh's Sacred Heart Cathedral, said abortion opponents are particularly worried that Congress might take up the Freedom of Choice Act.
    The legislation, which would outlaw any restrictions on abortion, was first introduced in 1989 and has never gotten out of committee. Yet the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued dire warnings of its imminent passage even before the November elections.
    "We have to be vigilant," said Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Raleigh diocese. "At a moment's notice, priorities change. If we haven't educated our people, we could be paralyzed."
  • So far, two Protestant groups, one liberal and the other evangelical, agreed to work to reduce the number of abortions through policies such as comprehensive sex education that includes abstinence and improved access to contraception.
    The two groups, Third Way and Faith in Public Life, met last week in Washington to propose shared policy solutions.
    Access to contraception is a sticking issue for the Catholic Church, which opposes the practice. Catholics would welcome measures that encourage adoption, Burbidge said.
  • The pro-life position is really a pro-fetus position, and the pro-choice position is really pro-woman. Those who take the pro-fetus position define the woman in relation to the fetus. They assert the rights of the fetus over the right of the woman to be a moral agent or decision maker with respect to her life, health, and family security.
  • “Poverty is a new form of abortion,” Span interjected. “The difference between the doctor who does an abortion and poverty is that one aborts before the baby is born; the other aborts after the baby is born. “Poverty is a form of violence, of terrorism,” he asserted.
    If one is concerned about life, he should be concerned about it “from the womb to the tomb,” Span added. “Otherwise, it is absolutely egregious and sinful to fight for a life to be born and then abandon it to poverty and destruction after it is born.”
  • In response to these movement activities, anti-abortionists began to form “right-to-life” groups in the late 1960s State anti-abortion groups began to organize in 1967, an the National Right to Life Committee was formed in 1971 as a national coordinating organization to provide educational material and information to these various groups, which nonetheless remained independent of the national organization (cf. Balides et al., 1973:513-14). By mid-1972 there were, according to one estimate, about 250 state and local groups loosely affiliated with the National Right to Life Committee (Potts et al, 1977:363). In Illinois, the Illinois Right to Life Committee was formed in 1968 in response to the abortion reform movement. In Minnesota, one of the largest anti-abortion groups, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, attracted a membership of ten thousand by 1973 and served as a model for other state groups (Balides et al., 1973:512-13).
    Although many abortion activists were willing to work through the slow legislative process off repealing the abortion laws, they also turned to the courts for support The success of the anti-abortion forces in blocking efforts to pass reform legislation provided one incentive to use litigation as an alternative to legislative lobbying. The opposition grew rapidly after 1970, when New York and three other states passed liberal abortion laws. In 1972, the New York law survived overturn only by the governor’s veto after vigorous opposition to the law was generated by the Catholic Church (see Lader, 1973) The strength of the anti-abortion movement was revealed in a 1972 Michigan referendum campaign to reap the state’s abortion laws when anti-abortion troops armed with pictures of fetuses converged on the state, mounting a massive public relations campaign that resulted in the defeat of the referendum previously expected to pass (Francome, 1984:112).
    Although countermovement activities in the state legislatures were one “push” toward the use of the courts by the abortion movement, the use of litigation cannot be interpreted solely as a response to blocked opportunities in the legislative arena. Movement activists often pursued litigation and legislative lobbying strategies simultaneously (cf. Lader, 1973; Faux, 1988). Favorable precedents in the courts created a “pull” toward litigation as an attractive means of bringing about social change. Civil rights groups were important pioneers in the use of litigation to achieve movement goals, providing a successful model for other social movements. Not only did the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision “Brown v. Board of Education” provide evidence of a trend toward “judicial activism” (Satat, 1982), but the family-planning movement had won a number of victories through the courts. Most directly important to the abortion repeal movement, in 1965 the Supreme Court in “Griswold v. Connecticut” had struck down restrictions on the distribution of contraceptives based on a “right to privacy” (see Rubin, 1987; sarat, 1982). Subsequent court rulings striking down the California and Washington, D.C. statues in 1969 further encouraged repeal activists regarding the likelihood of substantial progress through the courts.
  • Rose, an exotic combination of Jewish and Arab blood by birth and a pseudo Italian by virtue of marriage, is hardly a typical Islander. A former Chicago policewoman, the enterprising Mrs. Forsco quit the force when the inherent danger of offering herself as a guinea pig in order to break up abortion rings became all too apparent. One close brush with a hole in the wall operating table convinced her that there had to be a better way. The better way, she decided, was to put her considerable cooking prowess to good use.
  • The Susan B. Anthony List, and its connected Political Action Committee, the SBA List Candidate Fund, are dedicated to electing candidates and pursuing policies that will reduce and ultimately end abortion. To that end, the SBA List will emphasize the election, education, promotion, and mobilization of pro-life women.
    The SBA List's Six Point Mission:
    Elect pro-life women or pro-life men who oppose pro-abortion women to Congress through our SBA List Candidate Fund.
    Educate voters on critical pro-life issues and on upcoming legislation.
    Train and equip pro-life activists nationwide to run successful political and grassroots campaigns.
    Promote positive responses in both traditional and new media to dispel the myths and distortions of the abortion lobby.
    Advocate passage of pro-life legislation in Congress, directly with legislators and through mobilizing direct citizen lobbying.
    Connect legislative and electoral consequences through our Votes Have Consequences Program.
    Our organization works in the spirit and tradition of the original suffragettes. Susan B. Anthony herself called abortion “child murder.” Alice Paul, author of the original 1923 Equal Rights Amendment, said that “Abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.” Modern feminist Patricia Heaton echoes this theme, saying, “The early feminists were pro-life. And really, abortion is a huge disservice to women, and it hasn't been presented that way.”
  • According to several recent histories, the American Medical Association was the primary force behind the anti-abortion laws of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As writers James Risen and Judy L. Thomas point out, doctors had a natural stake in efforts to restrict abortion. Highlighting the abuses and dangers of abortion helped encourage the professionalization of medical practice, while limiting competition from midwives and other “irregular” healers who provided abortion services. Historian Leslie J. Reagan argues that doctors gained moral authority — and a further competitive edge — by positioning themselves as paternalistic arbiters of female reproductive behavior.
    The doctors’ campaign was reinforced by the growing fears of “race suicide” among Americans of Anglo-Saxon heritage. Immigrants from southern and eastern Europe, many of them Catholic, were flooding into the United States at the same time that birth rates were declining among white Protestants. Abortion came to be seen as part of a demographic calamity facing the white upper classes. As Reagan puts it, “White male patriotism demanded that maternity be enforced among white Protestant women” (Reagan, 11). Lawmakers responded by imposing ever-tighter restrictions on abortion, largely eliminating the earlier distinctions between operations performed before and after quickening.
  • As in other states, the early anti-abortion movement in Washington was played out against fears that the white Protestant elite would soon be outnumbered. This can be seen in a series of columns written in 1902 by the editor of the Seattle Mail and Herald about a case of infanticide in Ballard. In what the editor called a “desperate” effort to hide the evidence of a “criminal relationship,” a young father had murdered his three-week-old daughter. The editor condemned the crime but was more alarmed by what he called “the curse of America today”: the number of people who “have wantonly squelched the life out of their own offspring in embryo, for the sake of a moment of passing pleasure.” He claimed that “The embryonic children of our ‘most refined’ families are being strangled by their parents by the tens of thousands.” It was in this climate that the 1909 legislature banned virtually all abortions in the state.
  • The Supreme Court is leaving in place part of an Indiana law that mandates that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated.
    The court did not take up a second part of the law that banned abortions because of fetal abnormality, the fetus's race, sex or ancestry. A lower court struck down that part of the law in addition to the burial provision. The Supreme Court, though, said it will wait for other lower court rulings before weighing in on the fetal characteristics provision.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 20-page, anti-abortion-rights concurrence, warning that by leaving in place a lower court decision that invalidated Indiana's law banning "discriminatory" abortions, the court was aiding and abetting the possibility of a modern eugenics movement.
    "This case highlights the fact that abortion is an act rife with the potential for eugenic manipulation," he wrote. "From the beginning, birth control and abortion were promoted as means of effectuating eugenics."
    He pointed to sky-high rates of abortion for fetuses in Iceland and Europe diagnosed in the womb with Down syndrome.
    "Although the Court declines to wade into these issues today," Thomas concluded, "we cannot avoid them forever."
  • 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.
  • Pro-life groups had mixed reactions Friday when Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak announced his intention to retire after finishing his term.
    "For two decades Rep. Bart Stupak stood firm for the pro-life cause," said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. "It is a shame that he will leave Congress remembered more for his vote on the Obama health care bill, the largest abortion promoting piece of legislation in the last 30 years."
  • "As a national pro-life leader for many years, I have been proud of Bart Stupak for always standing on pro-life principles," said Jane Abraham, Susan B. Anthony List general chairman, in a statement Friday. "I was deeply saddened by his recent decision to walk away from those principles and support federally funded abortion.
    "With Rep. Stupak's decision to retire I look forward to aggressively working with a pro-life candidate in Michigan's first district," she added.
  • All too often, I fear that I'm the only nonreligious person who opposes the genocide of abortion used as a birth control substitute. Accordingly, I have created this web site as a virtual rallying point and clearinghouse for all atheists, agnostics, and other "godless" people who call themselves "pro-life."
  • The Pill manufacturers and many in organized medicine are mainly concerned about the Pill's medical side effects and its effectiveness in preventing pregnancies and are less concerned about how the drug achieves its effectiveness.
    Unfortunately, many "otherwise" pro-life physicians and pharmacists find it hard to admit that these abortifacient properties exist because they would have to discontinue prescribing and dispensing the Pill if they were to remain consistent in their respect for life at all its stages of development.
    Pro-abortion organizations and their lawyers readily admit the early abortion potential of the Pill. In February 1992, writing in opposition to a Louisiana law banning abortion, Ruth Colker, a Tulane Law School professor, wrote, "Because nearly all birth control devices, except the diaphragm and condom, operate between the time of conception...and implantation.., the statute would appear to ban most contraceptives." In 1989, attorney Frank Sussman argued before the U. S. Supreme Court that ". . . IUDs (and) low dose birth control pills. . . act as abortifacients."
  • [M]ovement toward a broadened reproductive justice movement could prompt a fresh look at the pro-life movement, which is different than it was thirty years ago, when it coalesced around the overriding goal of reversing Roe. Feminist and progressive theorists and advocates routinely characterize the pro-life movement as aimed at reversing Roe, and as committed to the project of requiring women to carry pregnancies to term, primarily so as to enforce restrictive and Victorian roles of motherhood, femininity, and sexuality. This depiction, however, is dated. At least parts of that movement, as expressed both by its leadership and by its members, are not single-mindedly focused on overturning Roe or on criminalizing abortion, and are not particularly interested in using either pregnancy or motherhood as a way to punish premarital or extramarital sexual activity. Thus, a fair amount of pro-life feminist scholarship is now focused as much on increasing public support for parenting—both for its own sake, and as a means of minimizing the number of abortions—as with minimizing abortions by criminalizing them and incarcerating the doctors that perform them. The change is just as clear outside of the law review pages. Websites such as Moms Rising seek to organize mothers—both pro-life and pro-choice, but the focus seems to be on the former—around what have to date been almost exclusively progressive-feminist goals: paid maternity leave, publicly funded childcare, more public assistance for single mothers, more support across the board for working families. These Internet-based movements express more interest in helping women and teens through their pregnancies and with their families, and less or no interest in punishing teenagers for premarital sex.
  • When the Republican national convention convened in Kansas City in 1976, the party’s pro-choice majority did not expect a significant challenge to their views on abortion. Public opinion polls showed that Republican voters were, on average, more pro-choice than their Democratic counterparts, a view that the convention delegates shared; fewer than 40 percent of the delegates considered themselves pro-life.1 The chair of the Republican National Committee, Mary Louise Smith, supported abortion rights, as did First Lady Betty Ford, who declared Roe v. Wade a “great, great decision.” Likewise, Vice President Nelson Rockefeller, who had taken a leading role in the fight for abortion rights in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s, was solidly pro-choice. Even some of the party’s conservatives, such as Senator Barry Goldwater, supported abortion rights. But in spite of the Republican Party’s pro-choice leadership, the GOP adopted a platform in 1976 that promised an antiabortion constitutional amendment. The party’s leadership viewed the measure as a temporary political ploy that would increase the GOP’s appeal among traditionally Democratic Catholics, but the platform statement instead became a rallying cry for social conservatives who used the plank to build a religiously based coalition in the GOP and drive out many of the pro-choice Republicans who had initially adopted the platform. By 2009, only 26 percent of Republicans were pro-choice.2
    The Republican Party’s shift on abortion reflected the party’s struggle over issues of religion and cultural politics in ways that ultimately transformed the [End Page 513] GOP. As long as Republicans viewed the right to an abortion as a mainline Protestant cause that was in the best interest of middle-class women, doctors, and American society, they supported the liberalization of state abortion laws. But when they began to view “abortion on demand” as a symptom of the sexual revolution, the feminist movement, and cultural liberalism, Republicans became less supportive of abortion rights, and they became more amenable to the demands of party strategists who believed that a strong stand against abortion would bring Catholics into the GOP. Abortion policy played a pivotal role in transforming the GOP from a predominantly mainline Protestant party into a party of conservative Catholics and evangelicals. Although Republicans did not perceive its importance at the time, their decision to adopt an antiabortion platform plank in 1976 created the basis for the party’s outreach to social conservatives.
  • Despite the importance of the abortion issue in redefining the GOP, the subject has received only limited attention from political historians. Histories of the pro-life and pro-choice movement make passing references to the Republican Party’s shift on abortion, and several studies of the politics of birth control touch on abortion as part of a larger discussion of the political debate over contraceptives. But none of these works engages in a comprehensive analysis of the debates over abortion that occurred among party leaders in the 1970s or explains the role that the abortion issue played in the GOP’s shift toward social conservatism. Nor do most histories of conservatism and the Christian Right adequately cover the subject. Yet one cannot fully understand the Republican Party’s shift toward social conservatism without examining the way in which the abortion issue transformed the party.
    Prior to the 1970s, when abortion became a divisive issue for the Republican Party, the GOP had not seen any conflict between its support for women’s rights, including the right to contraception, and its advocacy of a Protestant-based moral order. The party enjoyed the support of an overwhelming majority of the nation’s Protestant ministers, and the party’s leaders routinely invoked the cause of God and religion in their denunciations of Communism. At the same time, many Republican Party leaders took a moderately progressive stance on women’s rights and birth control, causes that many mainline Protestant ministers supported. In 1940, the GOP became the first major party to endorse the Equal Rights Amendment.
  • Anti-abortion activists initially mounted a federal frontal assault on abortion, but they were unsuccessful. Within days of the Roe decision and continuing through the 1970s and 1980s, anti-abortion groups pushed for passage of a “Human Life Amendment” and other related amendments that would allow states and Congress to ban abortion. These attempts to overturn Roe overwhelmingly failed in congressional committees or at later points along the path to a federal constitutional amendment. Because the political dynamics that would eventually bring Protestants and prominent Republicans into the anti-abortion coalition had not yet taken shape, there was little hope for this or other federal strategies for the foreseeable future. Moreover, anti-abortion activists were internally divided over strategy—pitting principle against pragmatism—which also helped undermine their power and cause at the federal level (Ziegler 2015).
  • In the first two decades following Roe, states moved to require specific forms of informed, parental, and spousal consent as well as to assign waiting periods for the procedure (Ziegler 2015; Sanger 2017). Although these efforts were frequently defeated in court, the state-based incremental strategy began to gain support from prominent anti-abortion organizations such as Americans United for Life (AUL) and the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). Furthermore, while they largely faced defeat in court which produced mounting frustration, movement elites also found reasons to persist into the 1980s as they enjoyed occasional success in securing judicial validation of some abortion restrictions3 and gained encouragement from a conservative President who was able to alter the composition of the Supreme Court and the larger federal bench.
    Of particular importance was Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health, 462 U.S. 416 (1983). After the Akron, Ohio City Council passed a number of restrictive abortion regulations that were challenged in court, the Supreme Court disallowed these restrictions. However, the recently appointed Justice Sandra Day O’Connor penned a dissenting opinion that was joined by Roe’s two dissenting justices—Justices Byron White and William Rehnquist. Stoking hope in the anti-abortion movement, O’Connor used the dissent to criticize Roe’s reasoning, thus inviting anti-abortion activists to continue to try and chip away at abortion access through friendly state and local governments. The confirmation of other Republican presidential appointees to the Court during the 1980s and early 1990s—Justices Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, and Clarence Thomas—seemed to increase the anti-abortion movement’s prospects.
  • In February 1973, Reverend Jesse Jackson saw pro-life politics as a natural extension of his work in the civil-rights movement. In the aftermath of the Roe decision, Jackson contacted the NRLC to express his interest. H had found his calling directing operation Breadbasket in Chicago, a program introduced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Southern Christian leadership Conference. In 1971 Jackson founded Operation PUSH (People United to Save Humanity), a group focused on civil rights and economic self-help for people of color. He responded to the Roe decision by denouncing legal abortion. Jackson highlighted his religious convictions, explaining his belief that “life [was] the most sacred possession a man can claim.” He also worried that racism drove the campaign to legalize abortion. As Jackson explained, “there [were] indisputable traces of genocide in the possible uses of [the Court’s] ruling.”
    A decade later, he described abortion in radically different terms. In the early 1980s, Jackson had launched a promising political career. Mounting a presidential campaign against the incumbent, Ronald Reagan, Jackson defended legal abortion, describing it not as an issue of population control but as one of autonomy for women. As Jackson explained during a 1984 presidential debate: “My position is: I’m not for abortion. I’m for freedom of choice.”

"Church Groups Turn to Sonogram to Turn Women From Abortions" (February 2, 2005)


Banerjee, Neela (February 2, 2005). "Church Groups Turn to Sonogram to Turn Women From Abortions". The New York Times.

  • In the battle over abortion, opponents say they have discovered a powerful new tool: sonograms. And over the last 18 months, they have started major fund-raising campaigns to outfit Christian crisis pregnancy centers with ultrasound equipment.
    The groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, have spent $20,000 to $30,000 apiece on ultrasound machines, and some of the clinics are vying for more expensive state-of-the art machines that show the fetus in three dimensions. Focus on the Family has budgeted $4.2 million in the current fiscal year for the machines and on training on how to use them.
  • President Bush said in a recent interview that he considered it his duty to help people "understand there are alternatives to abortion, like adoption." And Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Democrat of New York, recently affirmed her support of abortion rights but said that the opposing sides should find "common ground" to reduce abortion by preventing unwanted pregnancies though sexual education and abstinence counseling.
  • "Generally, their treatment of women who come in is coercive," said Susanne Martinez, vice president of public policy at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "From the time they walk in to these centers, they are inundated with information that is propaganda and that has one goal in mind. And that is to have women continue with their pregnancies."
  • Most centers still do not have ultrasound machines. But at those that do, the results of performing sonograms have been startling, abortion opponents say. A survey by the Heidi Group, a Christian evangelical nonprofit organization that advises such centers on fund-raising and administration, found that those using counseling alone reported persuading 70 percent of women considering abortion to abandon the idea. In centers with ultrasound machines, that number jumped to 90 percent, said Carol Everett, the group's chief executive. Such statistics could not be independently verified.
  • Dr. Sandra M. Christiansen, medical director of the Carenet Pregnancy Center of Frederick, Md., which also has its own ultrasound machine, said, "The motivation is that man and woman are made in God's image, that life is precious."
    Dr. Christiansen, who is also a member of the medical advisory board of Carenet, an umbrella group of such centers, added, "Women have a right to know what is going on inside their bodies, and we want to provide women with critical information as they face a life-altering procedure and decision. Women will be empowered to choose life."
    Groups that favor abortion rights, however, see the technique as a pressure tactic. Nancy Keenan, president of Naral Pro-Choice America, said that while ultrasounds were legitimate medical care for pregnant women, "they shouldn't be misused to badger or coerce women by these so-called crisis pregnancy centers."
    "With or without ultrasound," Ms. Keenan said, "women understand the moral dimensions of their choices."
  • Estimates of the number of centers around the country vary considerably, from 2,300, according to Focus on the Family, to 3,500, according to the Heidi Group. Focus on the Family said that about 425 centers might already have ultrasound machines. All provide free services, and most stay out of lobbying, the anti-abortion groups said. By contrast, there are 4,600 federally financed family planning clinics that provide abortion referrals, and hundreds of private facilities that perform abortions or abortion counseling, according to Naral Pro-Choice America.
    Many of the crisis pregnancy centers have affiliations with church groups. The Bowie center, for example, gets financial support from individuals and local Roman Catholic, Baptist, other Protestant and evangelical churches, and its staff and volunteers span the list of denominations, too, said the director, Pam Palumbo.
  • And like most such centers, the Bowie clinic advocates only abstinence to prevent unplanned pregnancies. "Many of the groups that oppose abortion also oppose the birth control pill and most forms of contraception, except maybe rhythm method," said Ms. Martinez of Planned Parenthood. "We're very concerned about what they do. It's part of the constant battle to keep the facts out in the public."

"An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death" (July 26, 2009)


David Barstow, "An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death". The New York Times, (July 26, 2009).

  • WICHITA, Kan. — It did not take long for anti-abortion leaders to realize that George R. Tiller was more formidable than other doctors they had tried to shut down.
    Shrewd and resourceful, Dr. Tiller made himself the nation’s pre-eminent abortion practitioner, advertising widely and drawing women to Wichita from all over with his willingness to perform late-term abortions, hundreds each year. As anti-abortion activists discovered, he gave as good as he got, wearing their contempt as a badge of honor. A “warrior,” they called him with grudging respect.
    And so for more than 30 years the anti-abortion movement threw everything into driving Dr. Tiller out of business, certain that his defeat would deal a devastating blow to the “abortion industry” that has terminated roughly 50 million pregnancies since Roe v. Wade in 1973.
    They blockaded his clinic; campaigned to have him prosecuted; boycotted his suppliers; tailed him with hidden cameras; branded him “Tiller the baby killer”; hit him with lawsuits, legislation and regulatory complaints; and protested relentlessly, even at his church. Some sent flowers pleading for him to quit. Some sent death threats. One bombed his clinic. Another tried to kill him in 1993, firing five shots, wounding both arms.
    In short, they made George Tiller’s clinic the nation’s most visible abortion battleground, a magnet for activists from all corners of the country.
  • Dr. Tiller would not budge.
    Instead he dug in, pouring his considerable profits into expanding his clinic and installing security cameras, bulletproof glass, metal detectors, fencing and floodlights. He hired armed guards, bought a bulletproof vest and drove an armored S.U.V. He spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on some of the state’s best lawyers and recruited an intensely loyal staff that dubbed itself Team Tiller. He lobbied politicians with large donations and photographs of severely deformed fetuses.
    Confident and dryly mischievous, he told friends he had come to see himself as a general in an epic cultural war to keep abortion legal, to the point of giving employees plaques designating them “Freedom Fighters.” His willingness to abort fetuses so late in pregnancies put him at the medical and moral outer limits of abortion. Yet he portrayed those arrayed against him as religious zealots engaged in a campaign whose aim was nothing less than to subjugate women.
  • “If a stake has to be driven through the heart of the anti-abortion movement,” he said, “I want to have my hand on the hammer.”
  • [I]n the weeks since the killing, supporters and opponents of Dr. Tiller have been measuring the larger ramifications. Implacably divided for so long, they now agree on a fundamental point: Dr. Tiller’s death represents an enormous loss for each side.
    Abortion opponents are bracing for a drop in support, especially from those in the murky middle ground of the debate. Worse yet, after years of persuading supporters to work within the law, they say they have already lost credibility among the most ardent abortion opponents who cannot help pointing out that one gunman achieved what all their protests and prayers could not.
    “The credit is going to go to him,” Mark S. Gietzen, chairman of the Kansas Coalition for Life, said of Mr. Roeder. “There are people who are agreeing with him.”
    Advocates of abortion rights, meanwhile, are reeling from the loss of one of their most experienced and savviest leaders. One of only three doctors in the United States who openly and regularly performed late-term abortions, Dr. Tiller mentored abortion providers across the country. Some of the nation’s most influential women’s groups celebrated him as an American hero.
    “This is so much more than just a murder in Wichita,” said Gloria Allred, a prominent women’s rights lawyer.
  • Friends said Dr. Tiller knew he would become a target. Pickets first showed up in 1975, two years after he performed his first abortion. Years later, an anti-abortion group put him on a “wanted” poster of prominent abortion providers and offered $5,000 for information leading to his arrest. When an abortion provider in Florida was assassinated in 1994, Dr. Tiller spent the next few years under the protection of federal marshals. By 1997, he had been labeled “the most infamous abortionist in the United States” by James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family.
    “He chose his life,” said Dan Monnat, his longtime lawyer. “And having chosen it, he wasn’t going to complain about the restrictions on his liberty by those who saw it another way.”
  • Dozens of anti-abortion groups of varying sizes and philosophies were out to shut down his clinic, Women’s Health Care Services. While their tactics constantly changed, they shared the same basic goal. “We wanted it to get to the point where it was no longer feasible to stay open,” Mr. Gietzen of the Coalition for Life said.
    Every vendor who showed up at the clinic was warned that if they continued to do business with Dr. Tiller they would be boycotted. Those who ignored the threat were listed on anti-abortion Web sites. “We had nobody in town that would deliver pizza,” said an employee, Linda Joslin.
    Protesters confronted his employees, demanding that they quit. If they refused, activists passed out fliers in their neighborhood accusing them of working for a baby killer.
    Patients would encounter a gantlet of protest.
    They would see a “Truth Truck,” its side panels displaying large color photographs of dismembered fetuses. Over the clinic gate, strung between two poles, they might see a banner, “Please Do Not Kill Your Baby.” Planted in the grass by the sidewalk were 167 white crosses, representing the average number of abortions that protesters said were performed there each month.
    Protesters approached patients’ cars, offering them baby blankets and urging them to visit an anti-abortion pregnancy clinic they had set up next door. Sometimes they followed patients to their hotels and slipped pamphlets under their doors. A few years ago anti-abortion campaigners spent weeks in a hotel room with a view of the Tiller clinic entrance. Using a powerful telephoto lens, they took photographs of patients, which were posted on a Web site with their faces blurred.
    Much of this activity was methodically tracked by Mr. Gietzen, who said he presides over a network of 600 volunteers, some of whom drove hundreds of miles for a protest “shift.” Protesters counted cars entering the clinic gate, and they tracked “saves” — patients who changed their minds. According to Mr. Gietzen’s data, over the last five years they had 395 “saves” for an “overall save rate” of 3.77 percent.
    They also kept detailed “incident reports” of unusual activity. It was a bonanza if an ambulance was summoned; photographs were quickly posted as evidence of another “botched” abortion.
    There seemed an endless supply of fresh accusations.
    “Wichita shoppers unknowingly sprinkled with the burnt ash of fetal remains,” declared one news release, referring to the clinic’s crematorium.
  • They relished each confrontation, both for public relations value and for the legal costs inevitably incurred by Dr. Tiller. He spent years, for example, fighting a legal battle to stop them from planting the crosses, and just about every inch of land outside his clinic was subject to litigation or negotiation.
    “We know what you can do on the blacktop,” Mr. Gietzen said. “We know what you can do on the driveway. We know what you can do on the sidewalk.”
    In April 2006, though, a volunteer spotted an opportunity for confrontation in one small strip of pavement that he thought had been overlooked: the gutter running between the street and the clinic driveway. The volunteer knelt in the gutter to pray, placing himself in the path of vehicles entering the clinic.
    According to the “incident report,” a clinic nurse pulled up and “laid on her horn repeatedly.” When the volunteer “acted as if he did not know that she was there,” the report continued, a clinic guard told him that he was reporting him to the police.
  • In 2001, protesters began appearing at Dr. Tiller’s church with Truth Trucks and a demand that the church ex-communicate the Tiller family.
    “They were abusively shouting at people not to take their children into the church because there was a murderer there,” recalled the Rev. Sally C. Fahrenthold, then the interim pastor at the church, Reformation Lutheran.
    For at least two years, protesters showed up each Sunday, sometimes disrupting services from the pews. Protesters obtained a copy of the membership address book and sent all members postcards showing aborted fetuses.
    Years earlier, friends said, the Tillers had been asked to leave another church because of his abortion practice. Reformation Lutheran made no such request. The Tillers were mainstays in the church. Jeanne Tiller sings in the choir, and her husband was a regular in Bible study. Still, the Tillers were saddened by the protests, Pastor Fahrenthold said, and a couple of families left the church.
    Eventually the Sunday protests petered out, although every so often protesters returned. Last fall, when the church was recruiting a new pastor, it listed abortion as one of the main challenges facing the membership. “Everybody there was not on the same page on this issue,” the new pastor, Lowell Michelson, said in an interview.
  • Anti-abortion leaders were determined to demonstrate that Dr. Tiller enriched himself by performing late-term abortions for trivial reasons, and they believed that Kansas law offered the key to exposing that and closing him down. A billboard in Wichita asked, “Is Tiller above the law?”
    They found two powerful champions.
    The first was Phill Kline, a conservative radio host and fierce abortion opponent who was elected attorney general of Kansas in 2002 and promptly opened an investigation into Dr. Tiller.
    In 2004, Mr. Kline subpoenaed case files of 60 women and girls who had late-term abortions performed at Dr. Tiller’s clinic. (He also sought 30 files from Planned Parenthood in Overland Park.) Mr. Kline said his inquiry centered on potential violations of the late-term abortion law and a second law requiring physicians to report evidence of sexual abuse against minors.
    The second champion was Bill O’Reilly of Fox News, host of the nation’s most-watched cable news program, who began attacking Dr. Tiller in 2005, eventually referring to him as simply “Tiller the baby killer.” Mr. Gietzen said he and other activists fed tips to Mr. O’Reilly’s staff. Mr. O’Reilly began one program this way: “In the state of Kansas, there is a doctor, George Tiller, who will execute babies for $5,000 if the mother is depressed.”
    Nonetheless, Dr. McHugh’s interview raised the question of whether Dr. Tiller had used readily treatable mental health maladies as a pretext to justify late-term abortions.
    According to Dr. McHugh, the files he saw contained diagnoses like adjustment disorder, anxiety and depression that to his eyes were not “substantial and irreversible.” He also claimed that some women offered “trivial” reasons for wanting an abortion, like a desire to play sports. “I can only tell you,” he said in his taped interview, “that from these records, anybody could have gotten an abortion if they wanted one.”
    Yet Dr. McHugh’s description of the files left out crucial bits of context. He failed to mention, for example, that one patient was a 10-year-old girl, 28 weeks pregnant, who had been raped by an adult relative. Asked about this omission by The New York Times, Dr. McHugh said that while the girl’s case was “terrible,” it did not change his assessment: “She did not have something irreversible that abortion could correct.” (Dr. Tiller’s lawyers, who have called Dr. McHugh’s description of the patient files “deeply misleading,” declined to discuss their contents.)
  • Why, he was asked, were so few doctors in America willing to perform late-term abortions? “Because of the threat to themselves and to their family,” he replied.
    Why had he not switched to another kind of medicine? “Well,” he said, “quit is not something I like to do.”
    The jury took less than 30 minutes to acquit Dr. Tiller of all charges.
  • Marla Patrick, the Kansas state coordinator of the National Organization for Women, spoke of all the other abortion providers who had been killed, injured or threatened. Including Dr. Tiller, four doctors have been slain in the United States since 1993. It was time, she said, for law enforcement to treat abortion violence as “domestic terrorism.”

"How House Republicans Derailed A Scientist Whose Research Could Save Lives" (November 3, 2016)


Bassett, Laura quoting Eugene Gu in "How House Republicans Derailed A Scientist Whose Research Could Save Lives". HuffPost. (November 3, 2016).

  • The subpoena had come from the House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel On Infants’ Lives, led by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). Gu’s start-up research company, Ganogen, is one of more than 30 organizations being investigated by House Republicans over the use of fetal tissue from abortion clinics.
    Gu obtains the organs he uses in his research from StemExpress, a company that accepts fetal tissue donations from abortion providers and supplies it to biomedical researchers. Republicans in Congress have been on a mission to outlaw the practice, which they describe as “selling baby body parts,” since an anti-abortion activist produced a series of heavily edited “sting videos” on Planned Parenthood working with StemExpress in 2015. Planned Parenthood says it sometimes donates, but does not sell, fetal tissue for medical research after an abortion at the request of the mother. The family planning provider is then reimbursed for the costs of transporting and preserving the tissue, which is explicitly allowed by federal law.
    Still, Gu’s association with StemExpress put him in the cross hairs of anti-abortion politicians, who demanded to see his emails, records of every financial transaction Ganogen made, names of all of his employees, and any equipment or material he purchased with regard to fetal tissue research.
  • Outside of school, anti-abortion activists began to harass him on social media and send him angry notes.
    “How’s your beating baby heart business going @Ganogen_Inc @eugenegu?” tweeted David Daleiden, the activist behind the Planned Parenthood videos.
    “I felt under siege,” Gu said. “I’m just trying to save people’s lives, and now I’m being thrown into this abortion fight as a proxy. I have nothing to do with abortion, I don’t encourage abortion ― I just use tissue that would otherwise be discarded. And now I’m painted as this ‘baby killer’ just for doing research as a medical student.”
  • The latest controversy over fetal tissue research began in 2015, when the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress, led by Daleiden, released a series of secretly recorded videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the sale of fetal parts. The videos have since been thoroughly debunked, but they generated enough anger among abortion opponents that Congress established a special committee to investigate the video’s claims. Republicans accused Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers of selling body parts for profit.
    “The weak, the vulnerable, those with no voice — harvested and sold — there is something going on, something that deserves investigating and that demands our best moral and ethical thinking,” Blackburn, chairwoman of the panel, said earlier this year.
    More than a dozen states also opened investigations into Planned Parenthood, but none of those inquiries turned up any evidence of wrongdoing. And in a surprising turn of events, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, that was supposed to be investigating the family planning provider instead decided to indict the anti-abortion group behind the videos.
    But Republican politicians only ramped up their investigation, issuing subpoenas in March to more than a dozen companies and research organizations that the committee said “failed to fully cooperate” with requests for documents. Gu received his subpoena after he accidentally hung up on a staffer for the congressional panel who had called him for information.
  • Gu is now trying to transfer to a residency program in California, because, he said, the hostile environment at Vanderbilt had become untenable. California Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat on the investigative panel who represents Gu’s home district, wrote a letter to potential programs on his behalf in September, saying that his research has made him “a target of discrimination at Vanderbilt due to a witch-hunt in Congress.” Speier said she supports “his efforts to transfer to a more supportive residency environment.”
    “Eugene is one of the many who has fallen victim to the Republicans’ less than objective attack on science and women’s reproductive rights,” she wrote.
  • Gu has temporarily suspended his research due to a lack of funds and the toxic political environment. He hopes to be able to resume it when the smoke clears. In the meantime, he wants to shine a light on the ways in which Congress’ investigation is intimidating scientists like him into halting their potentially life-saving work.
    “I no longer want to remain silent over these abuses directed toward me, toward other researchers, toward women and toward millions of patients,” he said.

"Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?" (January 21, 2007)


Bazelon, Emily. "Is There a Post-Abortion Syndrome?". The New York Times. (January 21, 2007).

  • Abortion-recovery activists may well have the greatest impact in statehouses. When the South Dakota Legislature banned abortion in 2005, it relied on a state task-force report, which said that women cannot end their pregnancies without “suffering significant psychological trauma and distress,” because “to do so is beyond the normal, natural and healthy capability of a woman whose natural instincts are to protect and nurture her child.” This “woman-protective anti-abortion argument,” Siegel points out in a coming article in The University of Illinois Law Review, “mixes new ideas about women’s rights with some very old ideas about women’s roles.”
  • While national groups like Focus on the Family, the National Right to Life Committee and Concerned Women for America warn about the dire effects of abortion on their Web sites and link to counseling ministries like Rachel’s Vineyard, they don’t finance abortion-recovery counseling. In part, that may be because the government and the Catholic Church do. But the lack of money may also reflect the strain of skepticism that Koop voiced. Francis Beckwith, a professor of church-state studies at Baylor University who is anti-abortion, has criticized abortion-recovery activists for their “questionable interpretation of social-science data” and for potentially undermining the absolutist moral argument against abortion. “For every woman who has suffered trauma as a result of an abortion, I bet you could find half a dozen who would say it was the best decision they ever made,” he told me. “And in any case, suffering isn’t the same as immorality.” Beckwith speaks at churches and colleges, and he says that most anti-abortion leaders don’t want the woman-protective argument to supersede the traditional fetus-centered focus, “because that’s where the real moral force is.”
  • Women who devote themselves to abortion recovery make up for the wrong they feel they’ve done by trying to stop other women from doing it too — by preventing them from having the same choices.
    And then there is the relief in seizing on a single clear explanation for a host of unwanted and overwhelming feelings, a cause for everything gone wrong. When Arias surveyed 104 of the prisoners she had counseled in 2004, two-thirds reported depression related to abortion, 32 percent reported suicide attempts related to abortion and 84 percent linked substance abuse to their abortions. They had a new key for unlocking themselves. And a way to make things right. “You have well-meaning therapists or political crusaders, paired with women who are troubled and experiencing a variety of vague symptoms,” Brenda Major, the U.C. Santa Barbara psychology professor, explained to me. “The therapists and crusaders offer a diagnosis that gives meaning to the symptoms, and that gives the women a way to repent. You can’t repent depressive symptoms. But you can repent an action.” You can repent an abortion. You can reach for a narrative of sin and atonement, of perfect imagined babies waiting in heaven.

"The Right to Life Movement" (1995)


Cassidy, Keith (1995). "The Right to Life Movement". In Donald T. Critchlow (ed.). The Politics of Abortion and Birth Control in Historical Perspective. Issues in Policy History. Penn State Press.

  • Another feature of public opinion, and one of the deepest aspects of American culture-a pervasive anti-authoritarianism and resentment of undemocratic power-also initially helped the Right to Life movement. Because abortion had come by a Supreme Court decision rather than through legislation, the movement could appeal to democratic values by potraying the decision as a judicial ‘’coup d’etat’’. This advantage was lost, and indeed reversed, in the wake of the Webster decision in 1989, which permitted greater state power to regulate abortion. NARAL, after a careful analysis of public opinion (using focu groups, not just standard opinion polls), decided on a public relations approach based on a theme of “Who decides-you or the politicians?” By emphasizing the antigovernment theme, NARAL reversed the populist appeal so long relied on by the Right to Life movement.
    • p.138
  • The phrase “right to life” applied to groups opposing abortion seems to have been used as early as 1963. The first permanent local group in what was later to be called the “pro-life” movement came from the efforts of Edward Golden of Troy, New York, who firest became concerned about attempts to liberalize the state abortion laws in 1965. Withina year he had formed a small grup to work against the proposed changes. The first permanent state group was founded in Virginia in 1967. The story of this group was typical of many others formed in the mid- to late 1960s: characteristically they began when an individual read about or heard of an attempt to reform or repeala state’s abortion alws and undertook to campaign against the proposed change, with a letter to the editor of a local paper of by some other public statement. Other pro-lifers joined them, recruited either through seeing the letter or statement or through the first pro-lifer’s existing network of friends or church contacts. Groups were usually small and lacked ready access to existing power structures, since their members were generally new to politics. In some cases the organization initiative came from the Catholic church.
    • p.139
  • Groups began in reaction to abortion reform efforts and it is not surprising that some of the earliest and most vigorous groups formed in states with active pro-choice lobbies. Besides New York and Virginia, groups were found in Minnesota, California, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. With some exceptions the most active states were those with large urban populations and a significant number of Catholics. This is not to say that only Catholics belonged to these groups, though Catholics were clearly a majority of active pro-lifers. A number of the prominent early leaders were Protestants, such as Dr. Mildred Jefferson in Massachusetts, Dr. Carolyn Gerster in Arizona, Judy Fink in Pennsylvania, and Marjory Mecklenburg in Minnesota. In general the South was a weak area for the pro-life movementand remained so until the later mobilization of large numbers of evangelicals. Perhaps the most interesting and important state organization was Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL), formed in 1968. An astonishing number of later national figures in the pro-life movement came out of this state, but even during the pre ‘Roe v. Wade’’ years Minnnesota had clearly become a national leader, sending out teams to help organize neighboring states. Because of the relatively small and scattered nature of pro-life groups in the yearsbefore 1973 and the fact that they tended to form spontaneously, it is difficult to compose an exhaustive inventory of them. Clearly they had become a significant force in some states. New York pro-lifers were able to secure a legislative repeal of the liberal 1970 abortion law in 1972. This victory was obviated, however, by Governor Nelson Rockefeller’s veto of the repeal. Groups in Michigan and North Dakota won victories in referendum campaigns in 1972 in their states, and there is evidence that these groups were slowing the tide of abortion law liberalization.
    • pp.139-140
  • Meanwhile, a national pro-life organization had begun to appear. In 1966 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops had asked the head of its Family Life Bureau, Monsignor James McHugh, to begin monitoring abortion law reform efforts across the United States. Within a year he had formed an advisory committee, which became the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). It acted as a clearinghouse for information, started the process of creating links among the Right to Life groups springing up across the country, and began in 1970 to hold annual conferences. The NRL came under attack on two fronts within the pro-life movement. Conservative Catholics who believed that eh NCCB was too liberal in its theology and politics felt that the fight against abortion was being prosecuted with insufficient zeal. This line of criticism was to become a constant theme in the history of the movement, as some Catholics insisted that the bishops were more wedded to a social-justice agenda with a heavy emphasis on economic policies than they were to the Right to Life cause. Cardinal Bernardin’s call in 1983 for a “seamless garment” approach to life issues, insisting on a linkage not only of abortion and euthanasia but to social justice and peace issues as well, seemed to some simply a ploy to de-emphasize abortion and thus make it easier for Catholics to vote for pro-choice Democrats.
    • p.140
  • Others were also upset by the NRLC as established by McHugh: Protestants and Catholics who feared the appearance of clerical control wanted a secular organization, without institutional ties to any church, and based on mass membership rather than controlled by a small executive committee. In the years before Roe v. Wade the organization of the NRLC became more pressing issue: one group chartered a competing national group, the American Right to Life Association (ARTLA), in a bid to pressure changes in the structure of the NRLC. Ultimately it was successful and ARTLA, though chartered, was never activated. Change in the NRLC would most likely have occurred even had ‘’Roe v. Wade’’ not been handed down, but the decision increased pressure to move to a new structure. Significantly, in the same week that the NRLC was given a federal charter, a rival national group was also chartered, by some of the same people who had incorporated the NRLC. Their intention was to prepare an alternative in case the battles among the executives of the NRLC produced unsatisfactory results. The new organization, American Citizens Concerned for Life (ACCL), remained dormant until 1974, when two prominent Protestants in the NRLC moved to activate it. For many years it was an alternative national organization to the NRLC, although far smaller, and pursued a different approach to the abortion issue. It wanted more emphasis on programs to aid pregnant women in order to reduce the pressure to abort and in general pursued a policy of coalition building on specific issues, such as the workplace rights of pregnant women, event if the coalition partners were pro-choice. It wound up its Washington lobbying efforts in the mid-1980s but continued thereafter as a Minnesota-based provider of educational material.
    • pp.140-141
  • The NRC went through a difficult period in the 1970s with frequent battles over policies and administrative issues. Nonetheless, it began a process of remarkable institutional development and maturation, which accelerated in the 1980s as it grew in both size and sophistication. By 1992 the program for the annual meeting contained a staff list, most of them in the Washington office, of nearly fifty people. Even more striking than the change in size was the appearance o a substantial group of professional administrators, most of whom had come to the movement through volunteer activity in local groups. This professionalization occurred as well at the state level, as more and more states set up permanent offices with executive directors. A similar professionalization occurred in the other organizations that grew up alongside the NRLC. The implications of this process for the movement are not cleat-cut: while a permanent and knowledgeable staff was essential for effective operations in the legal, legislative, and media worlds, the effect on grassroots participation was potentially negative.
    • p.141
  • With the withdrawal of the NRLC from the purview of the Catholic bishops, the bishops in 1974 created an organization under their influence, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment (NCHLA). The bishops also operated an educational project directly out of the NCCB, the Respect Life Program, directed by the Committee for Pro-Life Activities. Its annual ‘’Respect Life’’, a glossy magazine-style publication designed for use in parish educational campaigns, is a clear expression of a “seamless garment” approach to abortion and euthanasia, with articles on the rights of the disabled, racial justice, peace, and social justice. Nor did this exhaust the list of organizations operating at the national level. Americans United for Life, created in 1971, was originally an educational organization located in Washington. By 1972 it had moved to Chicago and by the end of the 1970s had become a pro-life public-interest law firm that played a crucial role in court cases involving abortion. In addition, the National Youth Pro-Life Coalition (NYPLC) had been formed in 1971 ad indeed was one of the first pro-life organization to have an office in Washington. It called for an ethic of “consistency” and linked the abortion issue to questions of social justice.
    • pp.141-142
  • Several organizations that appeared in the post 1973 period displayed even more vividly the diversity of people attracted to the movement: Pro-Lifers for Survival was begun as a pro-life and anti-nuclear group, which attracted the Left. A similar appeal was made by Feminists for Life. Much longer was the Christian Action Council (CAC), founded in 1975 at the urging of the Reverend Billy Graham, which became a protestant center of pro-life work. One of the most significant new groups was the American Life Lobby (ALL), founded in 1979 by Paul and Judie Brown. Mrs. Brown had been an employee at NRLC and was increasingly at odds with some of the others there. ALL was formed in close association with the New Right and from the start merged pro-life with a generally conservative political stance: its motto, “For God, For Life, For the Family, For the Nation,” accurately captures its thrust. Appealing to a conservative and largely Catholic group, ALL blended discussion of abortion with attacks on contraception and sex education, and was a prime example of the attempt in the 1980s to present, the pro-life message as part of a pro=family” agenda. A similar appeal was evident in Human Life International, founded by Father Paul Marx in 1981. Finally, a very different kind of pro-life work was carried on by groups that ran pregnancy counseling and support centers. The first and best known of these was Birthright (founded in 1968 by a Canadian, Louise Summerhill), which grew rapidly. Other pro-life counseling centers appeared later, under the aegis of such groups as the Christian Action Council, Alternative to Abortion International, and the Pearson Foundation.
    • p.142

"Youth Turnout Strong at US March for Life" Catholic.net


"Youth Turnout Strong at US March for Life". Catholic.net. Zenit.org. January 25, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2011.

  • In his homily at the armory, Father Patrick Riffle, parochial vicar at St. Peter Church in Olney, Maryland, observed the energy in the crowd: “The Church is young; the Church is alive! Man, I love being Catholic!”
    He acknowledged that “what we are dealing with here is something much greater than just the issue of abortion.”
    The priest continued: “It is a state of mind; a way of thinking that fails to recognize the beauty and dignity of the human person. It is a mentality that says that it is all about me.”
    “If I am only seeking my good, and you are only seeking what is good you, then all we are doing then is simply using each other,” he stated. “What we are dealing with is, as the soon to be beatified Pope John Paul II rightfully named it, the culture of death.”
    Father Riffle explained: “This is the mentality that lies behind violence, terrorism, and discrimination. It is what is behind drug and alcohol abuse, pornography and pre-marital sex and contraception.”
    “If we are going to rid our nation of the tragedy of abortion,” he added, “if we are going to be truly pro-life, we are going to have to rid our society and ourselves of this culture of death.”
  • “The Gospel of life is proclaimed first and foremost in the living out of our Catholic faith in daily life,” the priest affirmed.
    He urged the young people: “If you as a Catholic want to be pro-life, you must be pro-Christ. That means that you must seek to live out your Catholic faith in its entirety.”
    “The best way that you as young person can really be a living witness to the Gospel of life is through living lives that are chaste and pure,” Father Riffle said.
    He continued, “Keeping sex within the context of marriage, not viewing pornographic materials, keeping your Facebook page free from inappropriate materials all reaffirm your belief in that the dignity that belongs to each and every person.”
    “Men, you need to take the charge in this,” the priest asserted. “So often the media and advocates for abortion would like to portray life issues as a woman’s issues, but it is an issue for both women and men alike.”
    “We are naturally the protectors of life,” he affirmed. “Never do anything that seeks to objectify or lessen the dignity of anyone, yourselves included, but most especially the dignity of a woman.”
  • At the Verizon Center, Father Mark Ivany, parochial vicar at the Church of the Little Flower in Bethesda, Maryland, gave the homily.
    He underlined the need to know what it means to be human as God created us, in his image and likeness.
    “As Catholics we all know the One who created us, the One who knows us and who loves us,” the priest affirmed.
    He stated, “We must remember that our mission is not just to change one law in our country; our mission is to change the whole culture of our country.”
    Father Ivany underlined the need “to create a culture in our country that recognizes and protects human life from conception to natural death, a culture that sees the importance of purity and chastity before marriage and the gift of openness to life in marriage.”
    “You do this every time we live our lives the way Jesus intended humans to live,” he encouraged the youth, “every time you say no to sex before marriage, and yes to purity, every time you say no to materialism and yes to helping the less fortunate, every time you help a friend to say no to abortion, and yes to life, and every time you help someone who has been involved in an abortion to get help.”
    In this way, the priest said, “you are setting an example that will lead to the end of the culture of death and the beginning to a culture of life, the culture that we were created to live in.”

“Memorial Held for Slain Anti-Abortion Protester” (September 16, 2009)


. Damien Cave; “Memorial Held for Slain Anti-Abortion Protester” New York Times, (September 16, 2009)

  • OWOSSO, Mich. — They knew Jim Pouillon well, the 300 friends, relatives and skeptics who on Wednesday filled the stadium of the high school where he had protested for years. They knew his belly laugh, his past alcoholism, his Christianity, and — like the man charged in his murder last Friday — they knew the signs he held almost every day showing pictures of aborted fetuses.
  • The day was filled with such godly affirmations. In life, Mr. Pouillon had a jumble of experiences: Vietnam, fatherhood, divorce, church, protests, illness. But in death, he was described in simpler terms: as a martyr to the cause of fighting abortion.
    His killing is believed to be the first of someone protesting abortion, and at the memorial and a vigil later outside a Planned Parenthood office, he was praised as a symbol of dedicated action.
  • [H]ere and nationwide, the killing was also a reminder of how dangerous the abortion debate can be. Mr. Pouillon’s death came less than four months after a prominent abortion provider in Kansas, Dr. George R. Tiller, was gunned down in his church.
  • Mr. Samson was not a close friend, but Mr. Pouillon’s protests — with signs showing a baby on one side, under the label “life,” and a mangled fetus on the other, under the word “abortion” — were a regular part of life in this town, like vinyl siding on homes and “Go Trojans” signs supporting the high school football team.
  • [E]ven those who did not always see eye to eye with Mr. Pouillon agreed on one simple fact, which Wednesday’s efforts sought to emphasize — he did not deserve to die.
    And for those who supported him, their hope was that his death might inspire others.
    “Jim Pouillon ran his race,” said Cal Zastrow, chairman of Michigan Citizens for Life. “It’s our turn to run for the Lord and sacrifice for the babies.”

"Pro-life Leaders Respond to Tiller Shooting" (October 13, 2014)


"Pro-life Leaders Respond to Tiller Shooting". cbn.com. June 1, 2009. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved October 13, 2014.

  • The pro-life community on Sunday denounced the killing of late-term abortion Dr. George Tiller in Wichita, Kan.
    Tillman, 67, was gunned down shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday at Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita. The gunman fled the scene and hours later police arrested a suspect.
    The pro-life community is roundly condemning the shooting, expressing their shock over Dr. Tiller's murder.
  • Leaders with Concerned Women for America stated they have worked hard for the rule of law to be restored in Kansas.
    "Now someone has usurped the rule of law and taken it into his own hands and rendered vigilante justice rather than allowing the laws and procedures to work," Judy Smith, Director of CWA said.
    Pro-life groups also met on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to speak out against Tiller's murder. Click here to watch their comments.
    "Someone, possibly in their frustration at the slowness of the process, decided not to wait on God for the perfection of justice. It is never right to commit a wrong to make something right," she added.
    Wendy Wright, President of Concerned Women for America, and a leader of the Summer of Mercy peaceful protests in Wichita in 1991 explained the Bible does not condone such a crime.
    "'Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. 'Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?'" Wright said.
    Shaun Kenney, executive director of American Life League, stressed that violence is not in the nature of pro-life supporters.
    "Today's actions were tragic, and serve as another reminder that all human life is sacred. Pro-lifers by our nature and commitment to human rights reject violence as a means of resistance."
    The Reverend Patrick Mahoney, Director of the Christian Defense Coalition, told CBN News the crime must first be put in a personal context.
    "A husband, a father has been lost," he said. "We unequivocally condemn the loss."
    Pro-life group Americans United for Life president Charmaine Yoest called Tiller's death a "lawless act of violence."
    "The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone," she said. "Whoever is responsible for this reprehensible violence must be brought to justice under the law."
  • Several pro-life leaders cautioned against the ripple effect the slaying could have on the abortion issue in the political arena.
    Rev. Mahoney stressed that Tiller's death must not be used for political gain.
    "The pro-life community condemns violence on every level. That's why we're pro-life."
  • Tony Perkins, Family Research Council
    "We are stunned at today's news. As Christians we pray and look toward the end of all violence and for the saving of souls, not the taking of human life. George Tiller was a man who we publicly sought to stop through legal and peaceful means. We strongly condemn the actions taken today by this vigilante killer and we pray for the Tiller family and for the nation that we might once again be a nation that values all human, both born and unborn."
  • Charmaine Yoest, Americans United for Life
    "We condemn this lawless act of violence. The foundational right to life that our work is dedicated to extends to everyone. Whoever is responsible for this reprehensible violence must be brought to justice under the law."
  • Kristan Hawkins, Students for Life of America
    "Students for Life of America is shocked to hear about the murder of George Tiller. SFLA is a peaceful organization, and we do not condone today's unfortunate events. We will keep Mr. Tiller's family in our thoughts and prayers."
  • David Bereit, National Director of 40 Days for Life
    "As a nationwide organization dedicated to peaceful and prayerful solutions to the crisis of abortion, 40 Days for Life is shocked and dismayed by the shooting death of Kansas abortion provider George Tiller. Such violence against a fellow human being is never justified, and 40 Days for Life condemns this senseless act. We encourage people of faith to join in prayer for all those affected by this unconscionable action."
  • Marjorie Dannenfelser, SBA List
    "The Susan B. Anthony List condemns this anti-life act in the strongest of terms. The heart of the pro-life movement is one founded in love. Without this driving powerful center no justice can possibly be achieved. Authentic progress in women's rights has always encompassed the protection of human rights of every person across the board. The rights of one human being can never be honored by diminishing or ignoring the rights of another. This week as we gather for our annual June Tea event, themed Love Lets Live, we will lift up George Tiller's loved ones in prayer."
  • Jonathan Imbody, Christian Medical Association
    "Freedom2Care condemns the murder of Dr. George Tiller as an act of lawless disregard for the sanctity of human life that forms the foundation of the pro-life movement. Each and every human being is of inestimable value, created in the image of God, to Whom alone belongs the power of life and death. Our prayers are for and our condolences go out to his family."
  • Lila Rose, Live Action Films
    "Live Action condemns the murder of George Tiller and insists on a culture in which every human life is protected."
  • Wendy Wright, Concerned Women for America
    "We are disturbed and saddened to learn that notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller was shot and killed today in Wichita. Through the years, hundreds of thousands of pro-lifers have prayed for George Tiller, peacefully tried to persuade him to end his killing of innocent children and exploitation of women, and actively worked to enforce the laws of Kansas. We were guided by the hope that he would change his ways and find forgiveness in Jesus Christ. As the Bible states, 'Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?' (Ezekiel 18:23)
    "George Tiller faced on-going charges of misconduct as pro-lifers continued to rely on our civilized system to bring justice. Now, we will rely on the justice system to discover the motive of his alleged killer and expect that the full force of the law will be applied. Politicians, abortion activists, law enforcement and the media should be careful to distinguish between the millions of peaceful pro-lifers who seek the end of abortion and provide compassionate care for pregnant women, and the person who acted as a vigilante. We denounce this act of violence against George Tiller, just as we denounce the violence he committed against unborn babies and women."
  • Brian Burch, CatholicVote.org
    "We condemn the violent murder of George Tiller and hope that his killer will be brought to justice for this heinous crime. We cannot create a Civilization of Love with such violence. We call upon all people of good will to pray this week for the soul of Mr. Tiller and to pray that our society will abandon every form of hatred and violence. This senseless act of violence represents the utter antithesis of a people of life.
    The tens of millions of Americans who peacefully pray and work every day for the protection of all human life are rightfully grieved by this news. As the late Cardinal John O'Connor said, 'If anyone has an urge to kill someone at an abortion clinic, they should shoot me. ... It's madness. It discredits the right-to-life movement. Murder is murder. It's madness. You cannot prevent killing by killing.'"
  • Jenn Giroux, Women Influencing the Nation
    "Women Influencing the Nation condemns all form of murder. The murder of George Tiller is in direct contradiction with the beliefs and morals embraced by those of us who believe that every life is precious in the eyes of God and no individual has the right to take the life of another. We encourage everyone to pray for the repose of Dr. Tiller's soul."

"The Importance of the Political 'Framing' of Abortion" (2007)


Chamberlain, Pam; Hardisty, Jean (2007). "The Importance of the Political 'Framing' of Abortion". The Public Eye Magazine. 14 (1).

  • Both leaders and strategists on the right skillfully manipulate their language and the images they use to create the context for their public education or framing of the debate. How activists who are anti-abortion frame the issue can affect whether or not people are attracted to their cause. But a frame that attracts some followers can simultaneously repel others. Some abortion-related concepts used by organizations on the right alternately unify, splinter or expand their ranks. It is useful to understand how the right constructs these ideas and uses them to attract and maintain members
  • Most single-issue anti-abortion organizations associated with the New Right address abortion as separate from other reproductive rights issues such as contraception, women's health care, and access to sexuality education. Groups like the National Right to Life Committee, the Pro-Life Action League, and The American Life League resist making connections with other aspects of the right's agenda for fear of losing members or diluting the potency of their own message. Evangelical Protestants will sometimes "stray" from a single-issue focus on abortion by repeatedly referring in their literature to infanticide, euthanasia, and murder. The list strategically moves abortion beyond the narrower debate over the "morality" of abortion to associate its practice with a violation of "the sanctity of human life." It is no coincidence that this precise list consistently appears in various materials published by these groups and their supporters.
  • Language has always played a key role in the process of framing. Abortion opponents began to describe themselves as "pro-life," to distinguish their position from what they described as abortion activists' "culture of death." This choice of language helps position the anti-abortion movement as a force for something positive, not simply as an opposition movement. In this frame, euthanasia and infanticide become symbols of the type of heinous acts that a pro-life worldview must reject.
  • Rather than use scientific descriptions such as fetus or embryo, many pro-life advocates consistently use "baby," "unborn baby," "unborn child," or even "pre-born child." Such language makes it easier to claim that life begins at conception and reinforces the concept of the personhood of a fetus.
  • The frame of an anti-choice position is notable not just for what it includes but also for what is absent. Traditionally anti-abortion groups have avoided pitting the rights of the fetus against the rights of the mother, since to do so would acknowledge the validity of any argument for mother's rights. By avoiding discussion about women's rights altogether, this approach sidesteps the difficulties of resolving a competing rights struggle (between fetus and mother) and returns the ball of an untenable argument to the court of reproductive rights activists. Anti-abortion groups do this either by omitting references to the needs of the woman altogether or by trivializing the rights of pregnant women and women in general.
  • Anti-abortion activists find fetal rights arguments useful tools in constructing an analysis that eliminates a woman's own right to choose. Abortion opponents who argue that fetuses have rights are attempting to blur the legal distinctions between a fetus and an already born baby. A fetus's status as a person, they argue, allows for litigation on its behalf. At the same time, by representing the fetus as vulnerable, fragile and unable to defend itself, these activists reinforce the rightness of people other than the mother to act on the fetus's behalf, if they see her as not acting in its best interests. One important strength of the argument is that it appears secular and legal rather than religious.

"Antiabortion Centers Offer Sonograms to Further Cause" (September 9, 2006)


Chandler, Michael Alison "Antiabortion Centers Offer Sonograms to Further Cause". Washington Post, (September 9, 2006).

  • With its ultrasound machine and its location, the Severna Park Pregnancy Clinic demonstrates two of the most important tactics in an intensifying campaign to woo women away from abortion clinics. Antiabortion organizations in recent years have added medical services to hundreds of Christian-oriented pregnancy counseling centers nationwide. Many of these antiabortion clinics have opened in or near places where women go to end pregnancies.
    The new Severna Park clinic's operators say their strategy is akin to a business plan. "Just like McDonald's and Starbucks look for competitors to be next to," the pregnancy centers look to set up "where women will be seeking abortions," Pam Palumbo said.
  • There are at least 2,200 antiabortion pregnancy centers across the country, a nearly 30 percent jump since 1999, according to data from one of the largest pregnancy center networks, Heartbeat International of Columbus, Ohio. The network counts 561 centers that offer medical services, about a quarter of the national total. By comparison, abortion rights advocates estimate there are 1,800 abortion clinics nationwide.
    Abortion rights advocates say the proliferation of antiabortion pregnancy clinics is a dangerous trend, confusing vulnerable women by mixing a seemingly neutral clinical environment with a religious agenda.
    "They can set up a waiting room and an exam room, but that doesn't mean they employ actual medical practices," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, a D.C.-based network of abortion providers.
  • Ultrasound machines, which use sound waves to show real-time pictures of a fetus, are the centerpiece of the pregnancy centers' medical advances. Some antiabortion clinics also offer screening for sexually transmitted infections, and a few offer prenatal care, according to the pregnancy center network. They typically advocate sexual abstinence until marriage and do not help women obtain contraception.
    By many accounts, the ultrasound exams have proven effective in convincing women to stay pregnant. A 2005 survey by Care Net, a Sterling-based network of about 1,000 antiabortion pregnancy centers in the United States and Canada, found that 72 percent of women who were initially "strongly leaning" toward abortion decided to carry their pregnancies to term after seeing a sonogram. Fifty percent made the same choice after counseling alone.
    Such results have led antiabortion forces to buy more ultrasound machines, which can cost as much as $50,000 each. In the past 2 1/2 years, the evangelical organization Focus on the Family, based in Colorado Springs, estimates it has helped 200 pregnancy centers buy the machines.
  • Some funding is also coming from taxpayers. About 20 states have designated funding for antiabortion counseling centers, according to the Chicago-based law firm Americans United for Life. Last year, Minnesota appropriated $5 million and Texas $2.5 million for centers that encourage women to carry pregnancies to term. About a dozen states, including Maryland, contribute revenue to such centers through the sale of license plates stamped "Choose Life."
    A report in July from congressional Democrats found that the federal government has contributed $30 million to antiabortion pregnancy centers since 2001. Most of that money paid for sexual abstinence education. But some was distributed as grants to help pay for ultrasound machines, the report found. For example, Life Line Pregnancy Care Center in Loudoun County received a $50,000 federal grant last year to buy a machine.
  • The National Abortion Federation has received hundreds of calls and e-mails from women who say they went into pregnancy centers with vague or confusing names, many of them found under "abortion services" headings in the phone book. Rather than receiving unbiased counseling on all of their legal options, these women said, they found themselves listening to frightening, sometimes false, information.

"Abortion Battle: Prenatal Care or Pressure Tactics?" (February 21, 2002)


Cooperman, Alan (February 21, 2002). "Abortion Battle: Prenatal Care or Pressure Tactics?". Washington Post.

  • NEW YORK -- The latest front in America's battle over abortion runs down the middle of East 149th Street in the South Bronx.
    On one side, behind a metal detector and a steel door in a building without a sign, is a Planned Parenthood clinic where Jeanine Costley, a certified social worker, counsels mostly young, working poor, Hispanic women about contraceptives and abortions.
    Directly across the street, under a 50-foot yellow sign asking "Unplanned Pregnancy?" and blue neon lights urging "Plan Your Parenthood," are the offices of Expectant Mother Care. Here, Liz Nazario, a Catholic volunteer, counsels similar women about abstinence and adoptions.
    Costley wears a white lab coat and stethoscope. Nazario carries photographs of fetuses with button noses and tiny fingers. They have never met. But they are among the foot soldiers in a long-running confrontation that is heating up in New York and across the nation, with significant moves on both sides.
  • [H]undreds of crisis pregnancy centers throughout the United States are expanding their services -- and trying to protect themselves against accusations of practicing medicine illegally -- by converting their facilities into medical clinics with ultrasound machines and part-time physicians and nurses.
    To help pay for such investments, the centers increasingly are turning to the federal and state governments. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced legislation this month to authorize the Department of Health and Human Services to dole out $3 million in federal grants for ultrasound equipment to "community-based pregnancy help medical clinics."
    Four states -- Florida, Louisiana, Alabama and South Carolina -- also have created "Choose Life" license plates as a fundraising mechanism for crisis pregnancy centers. Abortion rights groups are challenging these programs in the courts, arguing that the plates violate the constitutional separation of church and state. They have won a temporary injunction against Louisiana's plates, which show a stork carrying a baby.
    But 10 more state legislatures are considering similar bills.
  • Organizations promoting "abortion alternatives" first appeared in Canada in the late 1960s, spread to the United States in the '70s, and grew rapidly through the '80s and '90s, according to activists in the movement.
    Across the country, about 3,000 crisis pregnancy centers are arrayed against an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 family planning clinics and abortion providers.
  • "The charade is that they provide alternatives, when they don't provide alternatives, they frighten women with horror films about abortion, they lie about the psychological impact of abortion; they have even been known to lie about whether a woman is pregnant," said Gloria Feldt, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
    Feldt added that she believes pregnancy crisis centers deliberately choose locations near abortion providers and run ambiguous advertisements to confuse women.
    "They are integrating increasing numbers of medical services in what they do, offering free pregnancy tests and low-cost testing for sexually transmitted diseases and sonographs. . . . [But] if they are going to practice medicine -- and as they add these tests they are practicing medicine -- they either need to practice it legitimately or cut out the charade," she said.
  • Chris Slattery, a former leader of the antiabortion group Operation Rescue who founded Expectant Mother Care in 1985, has been a pioneer in converting pregnancy crisis centers into medical clinics. All five of his facilities offer ultrasound, and his Bronx center has a $120,000, three-dimensional sonograph machine, which he described as "a wonderful way to show a woman the full humanity of her unborn child."
    Slattery also has a board-certified obstetrician, a certified sonographer and several volunteer nurses who rotate among his centers. "We are being accused of shoddy operations, of operating without medical professionals, when the irony is the exact opposite. The abortion industry in this country has gotten away without scrutiny for years," he said.
  • Slattery denies any deceptive advertising, noting that pregnancy crisis centers advertise under "abortion alternatives" in the New York phone book, rather than in the "abortion services" section, in compliance with consent decrees signed with two former state attorneys general, Robert Abrams in 1987 and Dennis Vacco in 1995.

“Opposition and Intimidation: The abortion wars and strategies of political harassment” (2007)


Alesha E. Doan (2007). “Opposition and Intimidation: The abortion wars and strategies of political harassment”. University of Michigan.

  • The pro-life movement’s use of unconventional tactics to gain leverage in its fight to end abortion is not a straightforward story of equating abortion to murder, nor is it plainly a question of choice, as characterized by the pro-choice side. Abortion continues to be a salient, divisive issue in society. This is most obviously evidenced by the longevity of the anti-abortion protesting at clinics around the country as well as the different meaning assigned to the protests by each side of the abortion debate. Anti-abortion activists believe they are exercising their constitutional right to engage in political protest and free speech outside of clinics. Abortion supporters view the protesting as unwanted acts of harassment that interfere with their ability to deliver reproductive health services.
    Over the past three decades, anti-abortion protesting has taken on a life of its own. In many aspects, the development and growth of the pro-life movement mirrors the trajectory of typical social movement development from origination to evolution to sustainability. Yet, the movement’s continuous protesting at clinics signifies a departure from many other social movements primarily in terms of the targets of protest and the longevity of the protesting.
    • Ch. 1, “Political Protest or Political Harassment? Social Movements, Morality Politics, and Abortion”, p.3
  • Devoid of context, protesting at clinics is not inherently threatening; however, anti-abortion activity exists within a backdrop of inflammatory rhetoric, physical threats, and executed threats in the form of chemical attacks, arson, and murder, which have been carried out in the name of saving babies.
    • Ch. 1, “Political Protest or Political Harassment? Social Movements, Morality Politics, and Abortion”, p.3
  • Pro-life activists were able to quickly launch a countermovement following the “Roe” decision because they had access to organizational structures already operating in society. The Catholic Church, which has an extensive organizational history, access to tangible resources (e.g., money, membership), and intangible resources (e.g., leadership skills, communication skills, a committed constituency) has long opposed abortion (Freeman 1979). Church leadership provided immediate direction and was able to tap into established resources including hundreds of local Catholic Churches throughout the nation. Catholic Church leaders were able to galvanize pro-life supporters into political participation through their preexisting mobilization structures. Essentially overnight, the Church mobilized a countermovement (Blanchard 1994; McCarthy 1987).
    • Ch. 1, “Political Protest or Political Harassment? Social Movements, Morality Politics, and Abortion”, p.13
  • Many of the tactics used by pro-life groups are not physically harmful to their targets-picketing clinics, picketing in front of the homes of clinic employees, shouting at and photographing employees and clinic clients, jamming clinic phone lines, mailing literature to staff and clients, tracing license plate numbers of clients and employees, and infiltrating clinics .All of these activities share common characteristics; they are directed at nongovernmental actors and grounded in a common language that encourages the use of militaristic rhetoric. At a pro-life training seminar, Brian Clowes explained to participants why he embraced this rhetorical method. “I use military terms and concepts because we need to recognize that we are in a war and we need to arrive at a state of mind where we want to win the war-we need to develop a battle mentality” (Brian Clowes, director of Human Life International, speaking at a training seminar 1999). Carol Mason (2002a, 2002b) has documented the explicit links between anti-abortion rhetoric and the rise in a paramilitary rhetoric and culture; activists constantly evoke guerrilla warfare language as well as engage in guerrilla-style political tactics.
    • Ch. 1, “Political Protest or Political Harassment? Social Movements, Morality Politics, and Abortion”, pp.27-28
  • Pro-life “apocalyptic narrative” and unconventional tactics are further embedded in a reality where extreme violence and death have occurred. Over several decades, dozens of reproductive health care professionals have been murdered or severely injured. Thousands more have been the objects of extreme threats of violence ranging from arson to bombing to chemical attacks. The actual number of victims of pro-life violence compared with the number of people involved in reproductive health services is minimal, but much like Klan harassment and violence, it creates a larger culture of fear in these communities. The inflammatory rhetoric and harassing tactics serve to reinforce the sense of fear within women’s health clinic. Several pr-life tactics are borrowed from the KKK. For example, anti-abortion activists frequently display crosses in lawns, nooses, distribute wanted posters targeting specific individuals as deserving of lynch law, and show pictures of dismemberment (displaying fetal parts) during demonstrations (Mason 2002a).
    Contextualizing pro-life protest activities forces us to conceptualize these tactics as more than unconventional political tactics. The inflammatory rhetoric and extreme forms of violence (occurring at the national level) create an atmosphere of reasonable fear among individuals affiliated with clinics (at the local level), even if their objective probability of being a victim of extreme pro-life violence is minimal.
    • Ch. 1, “Political Protest or Political Harassment? Social Movements, Morality Politics, and Abortion”, p.28

Eckholm, Erik, "Anti-Abortion Groups Are Split on Legal Tactics". The New York Times. (December 4, 2011).

  • The rift widened last month over a so-called personhood amendment in Mississippi that would have barred virtually all abortions by giving legal rights to embryos. It was voted down but is still being pursued in several states.
    Now, in Ohio, a bill before the state legislature that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detectable, usually six to eight weeks into pregnancy, is the latest effort by activists to force a legal showdown. The so-called heartbeat bill is tearing apart the state’s powerful anti-abortion forces.
    Ohio Right to Life, which has been the premier lobby, and the state Catholic conference have refused to support the measure, arguing that the court is not ready for such a radical step and that it could cause a legal setback. But the idea has stirred the passions of some traditional leaders, even winning the endorsement of Dr. John C. Willke of Cincinnati, the former president of National Right to Life and one of the founders of the modern anti-abortion movement.
  • Dr. Willke, who in 1971 created what became Ohio Right to Life, called his onetime organization out of touch with the “unrestrained enthusiasm” that the heartbeat bill has unleashed and that he said is emerging in many other states.
    Mark S. Gietzen, director of the Kansas Coalition for Life, called the bill “the most exciting thing that has happened in the pro-life movement since Roe v. Wade,” adding that a heartbeat bill modeled on Ohio’s would be introduced when the Kansas Legislature convenes in January.
  • The refusal of Ohio Right to Life to get behind the heartbeat proposal has led to bitter dissent. In the last two weeks, six county chapters have angrily withdrawn from the organization including, on Thursday, the Cincinnati chapter, the state’s oldest and largest.
    “Step-by-step measures haven’t stopped the killing,” said Linda J. Theis, president of Ohio ProLife Action, a new group that was formed in October to press for the heartbeat bill, and that has absorbed the breakaway chapters. “It’s hard to be against a bill that says that once a baby’s heart is beating, you shouldn’t take his life.”
  • Officially, National Right to Life, the umbrella group for state chapters, has taken no position on the heartbeat bill or on the fracturing of the movement. The national spokesman, Derrick Jones, said, “This isn’t really something we want to get into.”
  • The heartbeat bill, if not as sweeping as personhood, has a more visceral public appeal, its promoters argue, and avoids some of the pitfalls of the personhood proposal, posing no threat to contraception or critical medical care. In theory, the law would prevent a large majority of abortions, perhaps 80 to 90 percent, by Dr. Willke’s calculation. Doctors who perform abortions in violation would be subject to a felony charge, fines and loss of their medical license, but the women would not face charges. The bill would allow an abortion if a woman’s life or a major bodily function were in danger. Abortions for victims of rape or incest would not be allowed.
    Michael Gonidakis, the executive director of Ohio Right to Life, which has refused to support the heartbeat bill, said the division over anti-abortion tactics is unfortunate “because it takes us off message.”
  • “The court has not backed away from viability as the dividing line,” said Paul B. Linton, a lawyer in Illinois who was formerly general counsel to Americans United for Life. He accused the dissenting activists of “wishful thinking.”
    The heartbeat bill was initially proposed by Janet Porter, a nationally known evangelical activist who has crusaded against abortion and gay rights, once worked for Ohio Right to Life, and now heads a “pro-family” group called Faith2Action. Ms. Porter says that similar heartbeat bills are being developed by activists in at least 10 other states including Mississippi, Louisiana and Arizona.
    In Kansas, Mr. Gietzen predicted that a heartbeat bill would “sail through” the Legislature despite the lack of support from the state’s Right to Life affiliate and the Catholic church, which has not allowed his group to circulate heartbeat-bill petitions at Sunday Masses. Conservative evangelical groups like the Family Research Council and the American Family Association have endorsed both the personhood and heartbeat approaches. Matthew D. Staver, dean of the law school at Liberty University, founded by the Rev. Jerry Falwell, said that National Right to Life had “lost its legitimacy” and was “on the wrong side of advancing human life protections.”
  • Michael Gonidakis, the executive director of Ohio Right to Life, called the internal split “a difference over tactics.” He noted that anti-abortion forces have won several important legislative victories in the state this year and that a large majority of local chapters remained on board. “We’ve tried to shine light on the unintended consequences of the heartbeat bill,” he said. “This division is unfortunate because it takes us off message and does not help one mother or protect one baby.”
    But feelings are running high in the departing chapters.
    “We’ve had 39 years of talk and regulation, it’s time to WIN this war and actually PROTECT babies with beating hearts,” said Julie Doehner, president of the Geauga County chapter of Ohio Right to Life, in a news release on Nov. 28 announcing that the county was shifting its allegiance to the new group that endorsed the heartbeat bill.
    “If the choice is between unity and life,” she said, “we choose life.”

"Atheist, Secular, and Pro-Life"


Leslie Fain, "Atheist, Secular, and Pro-Life". Catholic World Report.

  • Pro-life atheists do not claim God created prenatal children, that he endowed them with souls, or that he even exists. Instead, pro-life atheists, agnostics, and secular people argue that prenatal children are human beings who have rights, and that to abort them is wrong.
  • In 2009, Hazzard founded Secular ProLife (SPL), a group whose vision is “a world in which abortion is unthinkable, for people of every faith and no faith.” Hazzard, SPL’s president, created the group in part to attract non-religious people to the pro-life movement.
    “The first time I attended a March for Life, I was struck by all the religious imagery,” she explained. “I thought ‘Wow, if this were an atheist’s first impression of the pro-life movement, she would never come back!’ And from there, it was a case of ‘build it and they will come.’”
    Hazzard points to opinion polls showing the US becoming less religious but more pro-life as compelling reasons to use secular arguments to support the pro-life position. SPL, with a membership made up predominately of college-aged students, has participated in the annual March for Life and the Students for Life of America Conference.
  • According to SPL member Julie Thielen, who identifies as a gnostic antitheist atheist, the best ways to reach secular people with the pro-life message are through biology and an appeal to human rights.
    “When the sperm meets the egg, a genetically complete human being is formed, and all that is required for maturation is time and nutrition,” Thielen said. “As complete human beings in the most vulnerable stages, there should be protections afforded. As a society we are judged by how we treat the most vulnerable—the young, the aged, the infirm, those who can’t speak for themselves. The unborn belong here.”
  • “History has many lessons about human beings who were not legal ‘persons,’” said Hazzard. “What seems like common sense to one generation—‘Of course Negroes aren’t real people’—is horrific to the next. What criteria can we set that will prevent this from happening? Every criterion proposed to exclude the unborn can also be used to exclude others. Consciousness? Then it’s fine to kill someone in a temporary coma; they merely have ‘potential.’ Physical independence? So much for conjoined twins. Human appearance? Discrimination based on appearance has been some of the most insidious of all. Birth? Totally arbitrary; there is no ‘personhood fairy’ residing in the birth canal, conferring rights upon exit. At the end of the day, human rights are for all humans. If we don’t protect them for the weakest among us, they’re rather worthless.”
  • The idea of a pro-life atheist is not new, as Doris Gordon’s story proves. For Gordon, a Jewish, atheist libertarian and former elementary school teacher, it all began in 1959 when she read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Ironically, although Rand and her associates were adamantly pro-abortion, reading Rand set Gordon on the path to becoming a fervent pro-lifer. This novel introduced her to Rand’s philosophy, objectivism. Interested by what she read, Gordon was eager to learn more. In 1960, she took the 20-lecture course “The Basic Principles of Objectivism” by Rand’s then-closest associate, Nathaniel Branden.
    Things began to unravel in 1967, however, when Gordon attended a talk titled “Certainty v. Omniscience” at an objectivism conference. The talk was given by Leonard Peikoff, a member of Rand’s inner circle and the sole heir to her estate when she died.
    “Following the talk, during a Q&A period, a questioner angrily challenged [Peikoff] about abortion, and a big debate broke out among the audience and the conference speakers on the topic. One point of disagreement was on when the new human being begins to exist,” Gordon said.
    “That word ‘exist’ really struck me,” she continued. “Rand’s philosophy begins with the axiom ‘existence exists’; A is A. Nothing can pre-exist existence. I am something concrete; I didn’t exist 100 years ago but today I do. When did my existence begin?”
    “Well, Rand taught us to think for ourselves, so when I went home, I began to do so. My studying objectivism taught me something about logical reasoning,” Gordon said.
    She asked herself if there was any essential difference between the moment before she was born and the moment immediately after. She could not think of any. What about at the junction between the eighth and ninth months? No. From there, she worked her way back, month by month, to see if she could find any essential difference. She could not, until she got to the point of fertilization, where something essentially different occurs: the sperm meets the oocyte, then growth and development can begin.
  • “It has long been settled by science that in sexual reproduction, the new human organism, a human being, begins to exist and to grow and mature into an adult. On the other hand, individually, neither a sperm nor an oocyte has the capacity to do the same. Logically, therefore, the human zygote is already a living human being,” she said.
    Gordon went on to wonder whether the new human being has rights. Though Rand and Gordon have different ideas on the definition of “human being,” Gordon came to conclude, “If all human beings have rights, as Ayn Rand held, then so must this new human being.”
    But there was a problem: “What about the mother’s right to control her own body, her unalienable right to liberty?” The child’s right not to be killed seemed to conflict with the mother’s right to control her own body. In 1973, Gordon wrote a letter that was published in Reason, which stated that unwanted pregnancy presented an insoluble conflict of rights between woman and child. She argued that “the unfortunate child was unaware of what was happening, and after all, the mother was in existence first.” For nine years, Gordon remained on the “abortion-choice” side of the debate.
    Then one day she thought back on an article by Branden she read in The Objectivist Newsletter, titled, “What are the respective obligations of parents to children, and children to parents?” In a response to a reader’s question, Branden stated that, like it or not, parents have the obligation to take care of their children. “The key to understanding the nature of parental obligation,” he wrote, “lies in the moral principle that human beings must assume responsibility for the consequences of their actions.” He insisted that the basic necessities of food, clothing, and so forth are the child’s “by right.” This helped Gordon begin to see why there is no conflict of rights between mother and child.
    “A woman’s right to control her own body does not trump a child’s right not to be killed,” she said. “Given parental obligation, even in unwanted pregnancy, it is the child’s right to parental support and protection from harm that is trump. Parents have no right to intentionally or negligently destroy their children, nor do they have a right to evict their children from the crib or the womb and let them die.”
  • In an article she wrote years later, “Abortion and Rights: Applying Libertarian Principles Correctly,” Gordon reasoned: “A child’s creation and presence in the womb are caused by biological forces independent and beyond the control of the child; they are brought into play by the acts of the parents. The cause and effect relationship between heterosexual intercourse and pregnancy is well-known.”
    “The parent-child situation is unique,” she continues. “It is the only human relationship that begins by one side bringing the other into existence. This fact of parental agency refutes any assertion that the child is a trespasser, a parasite, or an aggressor of any sort. Prenatal children have the right under justice to be in the mother’s body, and both parents owe them support and protection from harm.”
    Gordon understood Branden’s argument for parental obligation was about born children only, but she wrote to him to ask whether it could apply, in principle, to children before they are born. He wrote back saying it can’t because they are not yet human beings. She wrote back to Branden asking him for his definition of “human being,” but he never replied.
  • Hentoff encourages anyone who wants to find secular information to support the pro-life argument to read works written by doctors who operate on babies in utero. “Read them in terms of what they do—surgeons who deal with the child before the child is actually a child, according to the law,” he said.
    Being an atheist pro-lifer often can have its costs. Hentoff has lost lecture-circuit jobs and the opportunity to have a journalism school named after him and was delayed in getting a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Press Foundation because of his pro-life views. “Being pro-life has cost me a lot, but these are losses I am proud of,” he said.
  • According to some atheist and secular pro-lifers on the Internet, not all Christians have welcomed their collaboration. Some believers have even urged them to “go get their own events.” This type of response does not help advance the cause of the pro-life movement, according to Dr. Francis Beckwith, who teaches philosophy and church-state studies at Baylor University. In 2007, Beckwith wrote Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice, which is widely regarded as one of the strongest books defending the pro-life position. According to Beckwith, Christians should work with all people of goodwill who are pro-life.
    “We are instructed by the Church, and by Scripture, to advance the good of our neighbor. The fact that we are not in ecclesial communion with those who want to cooperate with us in advancing that good should not matter,” explained Beckwith. “This is so commonsensical that it is a mystery why we would even have to ask the question when it comes to the sanctity of life. Consider an example outside of the abortion debate. Suppose you discovered that the chef who prepares the food for the soup kitchen is an atheist. Would it even cross your mind not to take the food he prepares? Of course not.”
  • Beckwith said there are three reasons using secular arguments to defend the pro-life position is important. “First, we want to show respect for those who do not share our faith. One way of doing that is to try to persuade based on reasoning that those outside of our communities are more apt to find convincing. Second, these rational and secular arguments are part of the reservoir of the Church’s intellectual tradition, which maintains that faith and reason are not rival understandings, but complimentary ways of acquiring truth. So, when we are employing these arguments we are actually being good Catholics, as well as setting an example to those within the Church and the wider pro-life community on how to engage those with whom we disagree. And third, because these arguments are good arguments, we have an obligation to use them.”
    This is not to say we cannot make appeals to religion or Church teaching. “Having said that, there is nothing wrong in principle with employing religious arguments,” Beckwith said. “But we have to know our audience. Take, for example, St. Paul’s encounter with his Gentile and Jewish critics on Mars Hill (Acts 17). When dealing with the Greeks and the Romans, St. Paul did not appeal to the Torah. On the other hand, when St. Paul engaged his Hebrew audience, he did not cite Roman and Greek philosophers.”
    Beckwith added, “The Church has a long and noble history of supporting its views by appealing to the deliverances of rational argument.”

"Choice, Life Groups Slam Obama Order on Abortion Funding" (March 21, 2010)


Fox News. "Choice, Life Groups Slam Obama Order on Abortion Funding". (March 21, 2010).

  • The National Organization for Women issued a statement that it is "incensed" Obama agreed to the deal sought by Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., and other lawmakers who argued that the Senate health care overhaul allowed public funding for abortions. The lawmakers had been the key votes to stopping passage of the massive government plan.
    "Through this order, the president has announced he will lend the weight of his office and the entire executive branch to the anti-abortion measures included in the Senate bill, which the House is now prepared to pass," reads a statement from NOW.
    "President Obama campaigned as a pro-choice president, but his actions today suggest that his commitment to reproductive health care is shaky at best. ... We see now that we have our work cut out for us far beyond what we ever anticipated. The message we have received today is that it is acceptable to negotiate health care on the backs of women, and we couldn't disagree more," the group said.
    The National Right to Life Committee argued that seven objectionable pro-abortion provisions in the Senate bill are unchanged.
    "The executive order promised by President Obama was issued for political effect. It changes nothing. It does not correct any of the serious pro-abortion provisions in the bill. The president cannot amend a bill by issuing an order, and the federal courts will enforce what the law says," the group said.
  • Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund President Marjorie Dannenfelser said the group was revoking its "Defender of Life" award to Stupak, which was to be awarded at its Wednesday night gala.
    "We were planning to honor Congressman Stupak for his efforts to keep abortion-funding out of health care reform. We will no longer be doing so," Dannenfelser said. "Let me be clear: any representative, including Rep. Stupak, who votes for this health care bill can no longer call themselves 'pro-life.'"
    Stupak, who led Democratic lawmakers opposed to the Senate bill, made an announcement of a deal Sunday afternoon, surrounded by a handful of Democratic lawmakers who had held out their "yes" votes in exchange for a guarantee of no public funding for abortion.
  • Planned Parenthood argued that while it opposed the president's decision to issue an order, the abortion service provider was glad the president didn't order a ban on private health insurance coverage for abortion, as it claimed Stupak's amendment would've done.
    "We regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an executive order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health care reform bill," the group said in a statement. "We are grateful that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban."

"The Grass-Roots Abortion War" (February 15, 2007)


Gibbs, Nancy "The Grass-Roots Abortion War". Time. (February 15, 2007).

  • Wood is the CEO of Asheville Pregnancy Support Services in Asheville, North Carolina, one of the thousands of crisis pregnancy centers in the U.S. that are working to end abortion. Hers is the new face of an old movement: kind, calm, nonjudgmental, a special-forces soldier in the abortion wars who is fighting her battles one conscience at a time. Her center helps women navigate the social-service bureaucracy, sign up for Medicaid and begin prenatal care. She helps pregnant girls find emergency housing if their parents threaten to throw them out. Free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds are just the latest service.
  • Much of the antiabortion movement remains focused on changing laws, tightening restrictions one by one, state by state. But Wood and her team talk of changing hearts. They are part of a whole other strategy that is more personal and more pastoral, although to some people it's every bit as controversial.
    It's easy to support the goal: helping women facing an unplanned pregnancy. What critics challenge are the means, the information these centers give, the methods they use and the costs they ignore. Even among pro-life activists, there's an argument about emphasis: Do you focus on fear and guilt, to make choosing an abortion harder, or on hope and support, to make "choosing life" easier? Either way, the pregnancy-center movement takes the fight over abortion deep inside some of the most intimate conversations a woman ever has.
  • Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCS, now often called pregnancy resource centers) have been around for a few decades, but the Bush Administration has made them a centerpiece of compassionate conservatism, a signal to members of the President's evangelical base that he shares their values. But as a new presidential race looms, the signals may be shifting, the rancor of the public fight fading. Hillary Clinton has called abortion "a sad, even tragic choice to many, many women" and talks about improving education and access to birth control so that abortion becomes a right most women never have to exercise. On the Republican side, Rudy Giuliani is pro-choice, Mitt Romney used to be, and John McCain's pro-life record doesn't keep social conservatives from viewing him with some suspicion. Other issues, whether war and peace or gay marriage and stem cells, may be the prime motivators in this election; and in the meantime, pro-choice Democrats are back in control of Congress. "The power change in Washington highlights the increasingly strategic role pregnancy centers play in the pro-life movement," says Kurt Entsminger, president of Care Net, the largest pregnancy-center network. With abortion-rights advocates now in leadership positions, "pro-life legislative advances will inevitably be shut down."
    The centers are typically Christian charities, often under the umbrella of one of three national groups: Care Net, Heartbeat International and the U.S. National Institute of Family and Life Advocates. No one can say precisely how many pregnancy centers there are, since some aren't affiliated with any national group. Care Net puts the figure at around 2,300, though that does not include traditional maternity homes, adoption agencies or Catholic Charities. Care Net and Heartbeat International also operate Option Line, a 24/7 call center based in Columbus, Ohio, that women can contact for information and referral to a CPC near them. Last year Care Net spent $4 million on marketing, including more than $2 million on billboards alone (PREGNANT AND SCARED? 1-800-395-HELP. WE'RE HERE 24/7). The Internet has become a tool for outreach as well. Care Net has got into bidding wars with abortion providers over who would receive top placement in the sponsored-links sections on Yahoo! and Google when someone searches for abortion.
  • Pregnancy centers offer everything from emergency food and formula to strollers and baby clothes to help with the month's rent. "We're willing to offer $200, $300, $400 on the spot, no strings attached," says Pat Foley, who runs the Wakota Life Care Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. "No life should end because of money." While no one disagrees with that, some do wonder how much help will be available for these families in the years to come, with school, housing and health care, since according to the Guttmacher Institute, 3 out of 4 women contemplating abortion cite economic pressure as a reason.
    The latest trend is to convert pregnancy centers into health clinics that offer free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. What they will not offer is referral for birth control. Married clients wanting information on contraception are referred to their own doctor or pastor. But, as Wood explains, most clients are unmarried, and "the Bible clearly states that sex outside of marriage is against God's will for our lives."
    That alone is enough to discredit the centers in the eyes of many pro-choice groups, which have always argued that the best way to prevent abortions is to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place. They are hoping that with the Democrats in control of Congress, legislation like the Prevention First Act will reduce the need for abortions by promoting comprehensive sex education and expanding access to contraception. At Planned Parenthood clinics, fewer than 1 in 10 clients is there for an abortion; the vast majority are there for birth control and reproductive health care (98% of American women have used contraception at some point in their lives). But because promoting abstinence before marriage is a part of the CPC mission, centers are eligible for federal abstinence-education grants, which in some cases have instantly doubled or tripled their budgets. In 2005, roughly 13% of Care Net affiliates got state or federal money; their average budget was $155,000.
  • There's such momentum behind the CPC movement that abortion-rights groups have begun to fight back. Last summer the U.S. National Abortion Federation published a study on the centers subtitled An Affront to Choice, which charged them with marketing themselves so that women looking for a full-service health clinic might mistakenly go to a CPC instead and be "harassed, bullied and given blatantly false information." It accused centers of focusing on women's needs through the first two trimesters but then abandoning them once obtaining an abortion becomes much more difficult. Los Angeles Democrat Henry Waxman, now chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, investigated federally funded CPCs, using callers posing as pregnant 17-year-olds. The investigators reported that 20 of 23 centers they reached provided "false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion," inflating the risk of breast cancer, infertility, depression and suicide.
    The heat of the national battle, however, doesn't capture what is happening on the front lines. In North Carolina, Abortion Clinics OnLine lists eight abortion providers, but the state has more than 70 pregnancy centers. NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina was so concerned about their practices that it recruited volunteers to call centers and record the information they were given. NARAL reported that in the course of promoting abstinence, a counselor told an investigator that "all condoms are defective and have slots and holes in them." Another warned that "9 out of 10 couples that go through an abortion split up."
  • [P]ressure can take many forms, and the experience of a NARAL investigator suggests that manipulation may be in the eye of the beholder. Courtney Barbour, an administrative assistant at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, arranged to pick up the urine of a pregnant woman on her way to Birthchoice, a CPC in nearby Raleigh, so she would test positive and see the reaction. Having heard horror stories from friends in college, she was braced for the worst. "But it really wasn't what I expected," Barbour says. "They acted like they really did want to help me." While one woman handled the pregnancy test, Barbour spoke to a counselor who was very sympathetic. "She didn't show me any disgusting movies--though she did show me these plastic models of the fetus at each stage of development--and told me that it has a heartbeat immediately, which I knew medically was not true." The counselor asked about her resources, her family and her intentions. "She didn't actually prod me in any particular direction," Barbour says. "She was just listening to me, nodding her head. She wanted to know if my family was religious, and I told her, well, I don't go to church, but my grandfather was a Methodist minister. She didn't act really judgmental or anything. She did say, 'Well, I bet that your grandfather really would like you to have this baby.'"
    Eventually the woman who had done the test reappeared, holding a pair of soft blue, hand-knit baby booties. "Congratulations!" she said. "You're a mother."
    How you classify that encounter says a lot about your politics: one person's loving support is another's emotional pressure. "They talk about the joys of childbirth, which can certainly be a joy," says Melissa Reed, executive director of NARAL's North Carolina chapter, "but they can make a woman feel very intimidated about making any other choice in her life."
  • "Abortion is a reality. For me, I feel it can be a lifesaving choice for a woman. But decreasing abortion is a goal we all strive for."

"The tiny American towns passing anti-abortion rules" (April 27, 2021)


Jessica Glenza, "The tiny American towns passing anti-abortion rules". The Guardian. April 27, 2021.

  • Anti-abortion ordinances that call the healthcare procedure “murder” and providers “criminal organizations” touch on “what the majority of people here believe”, Dickson said. “They took seriously the statement [Joe] Biden said about how he wants abortion access in every zip code.”
    Dickson’s ordinances straddle a rift in the anti-abortion movement, between the litigation-focused mainstream and the grassroots extremists, and comes as the American right seeks to define itself post-Trump amid a rising tide of domestic terrorism.
    On one side are people like Primavera, a former crisis pregnancy center director and mother of six who argues women are victims of doctors who perform abortions. In recent years this mainstream vein of the anti-abortion movement has sought to recast itself as the true home of American feminism and it views women as victims of abortion.
  • On the other side is a growing grassroots movement dominated by men who argue abortion should be prosecuted under homicide statues, and both women and doctors should be charged with murder. Dickson’s ordinances have borrowed ideas and received plaudits from these groups.
    These militant “abolitionists” have seen increasing success pushing bills to criminalize abortion and share an affinity for anti-government ideology with rightwing militias, researchers argue.
    “There’s absolutely no daylight between the substantive priorities of these groups,” said Mary Ziegler, a professor at Florida State University College of Law and the recent author of Abortion in America: A Legal History, Roe v Wade to the Present. “Where the disagreement lies is pretty much about how to get … the criminalization of abortion the most quickly and the most effectively.”
  • The division within the anti-abortion movement resembles another period in American history: the early 1990s, when violence against abortion providers and clinics peaked. Then as now, hopes were high that a conservative supreme court could make abortion illegal. The “abolition” movement also shares some of the same leaders from that period.
    “There’s a lot of optimism,” in the anti-abortion movement right now, said Ziegler. “If the supreme court doesn’t do what people want, there will absolutely be more of a threat of violence.” Already, the US has seen increasing incidences of domestic terrorism, including against abortion clinics.
    Moreover, empowerment of domestic extremists during the Trump administration, and Trump’s statement that “there has to be some form of punishment”, has emboldened a male-dominated, militant wing of anti-abortion extremism that last peaked in the early 1990s.
  • “Abolitionists”, who compare themselves to 19th-century anti-slavery campaigners, have urged state and local governments to ban abortion within city limits, criminalize abortion providers, block reproductive rights groups from operating within certain jurisdictions, to punish women who have abortions and to designate towns “sanctuary cities” for the unborn.
    “There’s murder going on, and the other branches of government need to stand up to the plate and stop it,” said Matthew Trewhella to the camera in a March YouTube video. Trewhella is one of the authors of a key text of the “abolition” movement, the Doctrine of Lesser Magistrates.
    Trewhella’s group, Defy Tyrants, proclaims on their Facebook page: “The supreme court does not make the law.”
  • Dickson has won plaudits from Defy Tyrants, though most in the “abolition” movement want to go farther. Such groups have had success introducing bills in Arizona, Oklahoma and Texas to charge women who have abortions with murder.
    Trewhella was a prominent leader of the anti-abortion movement in the 1990s, and was among those who have argued violence against abortion providers is “justifiable homicide”.
    The abortion abolition movement also has ties to pro-gun rights movements. In one image, a group of five “Defy Tyrants” supporters pose with AR-15-style rifles and a sign that says: “The state is not God.” In another instance, a Montana Republican party official and local pastor teamed up to create the first “sanctuary city” for both the “unborn” and gun rights.
  • Norman, Oklahoma, just outside Oklahoma City, has become a hotbed of “abolitionist” organizing in recent years.
    “It’s just been more intense in Oklahoma City,” said Julie Burkhart, founder and CEO of Trust Women, which operates abortion clinics there and in Kansas. Burkhart is a former assistant of Dr George Tiller, who was assassinated in 2009.
    In one instance in early 2021, an armed man who regularly went to restaurants, parks and other public places to protest against gun control showed up outside the gates of the abortion clinic. He was armed with an AR-15-style rifle, a pistol and knives. <br. “I don’t know what’s going on in his head,” said Burkhart. “Whether he’s going to remain there peacefully or start firing at people, it was chilling, and the staff were terrified.”

"Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials" (October 23, 2006)


"Misinformed Consent: The Medical Accuracy of State-Developed Abortion Counseling Materials". Guttmacher.org. (October 23, 2006).

  • Informed consent—the concept that individuals have a right to receive relevant, accurate and unbiased information prior to receiving medical care so they can make sound decisions regarding treatment—is a bedrock principle of medical ethics. Moreover, the obligation to provide such information is mandated by statute or case law in all 50 states. Under the banner of informed consent, a majority of states have enacted abortion counseling laws requiring physicians to provide specified information to women seeking abortions. Many of these laws require the state health department to develop detailed written materials that must be distributed to women prior to the procedure.
    An analysis of these state-developed materials demonstrates that they do not always measure up to the gold standard of informed consent. Particularly with regard to certain hot-button issues, the information presented is either out-of-date, biased or both. In some cases, the state goes so far as to include information that is patently inaccurate or incomplete, lending credence to the charge that states' abortion counseling mandates are sometimes intended less to inform women about the abortion procedure than to discourage them from seeking abortions altogether.
  • States have been enacting "informed consent" mandates specific to abortion for decades, and 32 states currently have mandates in effect. In general, they require providers to inform a woman of the nature of the procedure and the risks associated with it—as well as the risks of pregnancy and childbirth—and the "probable gestational age" of the fetus. In some cases, however, the statutes are biased on their face. In seven states, they mandate the provision of negative and unscientific information about abortion and its implications. In five other states, they require that the woman be told that the state favors childbirth over abortion.
    Whether biased or not, abortion rights activists have tended to oppose counseling mandates specific to abortion, which they consider egregious examples of political interference in the doctor-patient relationship. For its part, the American Medical Association has long opposed any legislative measure that would require "procedure-specific" informed consent. Nonethe-less, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1992 ruled in favor of abortion-specific informed consent mandates in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. In upholding Pennsyl-vania's law requiring preabortion counseling, the Court said such mandates are permissible as long as the information the law requires to be given to the woman is "truthful and nonmisleading."
  • Antiabortion activists have long held that having an abortion leads to an increased risk of developing breast cancer later in life. Until quite recently, they were able to take advantage of the fact that the science examining the potential link between abortion and breast cancer was inconsistent. In particular, they relied largely on a 1996 meta-analysis, a type of analysis that combines the results of various studies, which concluded that women who had had an abortion had significantly elevated risk of breast cancer.
    Since that time, however, researchers and medical experts have taken another look at the studies and overwhelmingly have concluded that those finding a causal relationship between breast cancer and abortion are methodologically flawed. Moreover, in February 2003, after pulling together the world's leading experts to assess the association between certain reproductive events and the risk of breast cancer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) issued a categorical statement: "Induced abortion is not associated with an increase in breast cancer risk." NCI further stated that this determination was "well-established," the institute's highest rating. A similar investigation conducted in 2004 by a panel convened by the British government came to the same conclusion.
    Nonetheless, medically inaccurate claims of a link between induced abortion and breast cancer can be found in the required abortion counseling materials in five of the six states that have developed such materials (see table, columns 1 and 2). In two of these states, the health department was expressly directed by the legislature to include information on the abortion–breast cancer relationship; in the other three, the health department included the information without a specific state mandate to do so. All of these materials state that the evidence linking abortion with breast cancer is inconclusive. For example, the Texas materials state that there is no consensus in the medical community on the connection between abortion and breast cancer, and that further study is needed. Only the materials developed by the health department in Minnesota comport with NCI's determination that an abortion does not increase the likelihood of subsequently developing breast cancer.
  • Abortion opponents also claim that having an abortion will result in a barrage of negative mental health outcomes. This implication that abortion is psychologically riskier than carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term is misguided, as the most methodologically sound research conducted over the past two decades does not find a causal relationship between abortion and severe negative mental health outcomes. In fact, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry in 2000, the best indicator for a woman's mental health after an abortion is her mental health before the abortion. And a review of the mental health literature by the American Psychological Association in 1989, as summarized in the Guttmacher Institute's May 2006 report, Abortion in Women's Lives, found that women feel the most distress before an abortion; after an abortion, women frequently report feeling "relief or happiness" (related article, Summer 2006, page 8).
    In 19 states, the mandated materials include information on the psychological effects of abortion (see table, columns 3 and 4). In 11 of these states (including Oklahoma, where the materials have not yet been developed), the information is included pursuant to a specific state law; in the other eight states, the information is provided without a specific legal mandate.
    In 11 states, the information in the materials prepares women to feel a range of emotions after an abortion—from sadness to relief. Women are reassured that after the abortion, it is common to experience emotions that are simultaneously positive and negative. Professional counseling is suggested before and after the procedure so that a woman feels comfortable with her decision; counseling is specifically recommended if a woman experiences symptoms related to depression.
    The materials in the remaining seven states provide a less balanced view of the emotions a woman may experience after having an abortion. In three of these states—Michigan, Nebraska and South Carolina—the materials exclusively detail negative mental health outcomes. In Nebraska, for example, the materials state that "some women experience reactions such as sadness, grief, regret, anxiety and guilt," and information on the possible positive feelings is not included. Moreover, in South Dakota, Texas, Utah and West Virginia, the materials go even further, asserting either that a woman may experience suicidal thoughts or that she will suffer from what abortion foes call "postabortion traumatic stress syndrome." Materials issued in West Virginia, for example, claim that after abortion many women suffer from symptoms including eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, suicidal thoughts and drug abuse. Notably, neither the American Psychological Association nor the American Psychiatric Association recognizes this disorder.
  • Another assertion that is often used by abortion opponents to discourage women from having abortions is that a fetus has the ability to feel pain; however, researchers have not been able to conclusively determine at what point in development, if at all, a fetus perceives pain. According to a 2005 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzing the available research on brain development, the sensory system that is necessary to feel pain develops between 23 and 30 weeks' gestation. For a fetus to perceive pain, however, not only must the physical structures be in place, they must be able to transmit sensory information and the fetus must be able to interpret the information. The limited data available suggest that this is unlikely to occur until at least 29 weeks' gestation.
    Mandated information on the fetus' ability to feel pain—arguably the most egregious example of medical inaccuracy in state abortion counseling materials—appears in the materials developed in five states (see table, column 5). In three of these states, the health department has acted under the direction of the legislature, whereas the other two have included the information without a legal mandate. (Two other states are worth noting here. Oklahoma law requires fetal pain to be included in the materials; however, the health department has yet to publish them. And, Illinois enacted a separate postviability law in 1984 that requires a physician to tell a woman obtaining an abortion after viability that the fetus may feel pain and to offer her the option of anesthesia for the fetus.)
    The materials differ across the five states. Materials in three states (Arkansas, Georgia and Minnesota) identify 20 weeks as the point at which the fetus may begin to feel pain. In Arkansas and Georgia, the materials include a statement dictated by the legislature claiming that at 20 weeks' gestation, "the unborn child has the physical structures necessary to experience pain" and that "unborn children seek to evade certain stimuli in a manner that in an infant or an adult would be interpreted to be a response to pain." In Minnesota, the materials state that experts' opinions differ over whether a fetus can feel physical pain at 20 weeks' gestation or later in gestation.
    In the two remaining states, the materials suggest that pain may be perceived even earlier in pregnancy. The South Dakota materials do not specify an age; instead, they state generally that an "unborn child may feel physical pain." The Texas materials suggest that pain perception can occur as early as 12 weeks' gestation, although "some experts have concluded that the unborn child is probably able to feel pain" at 20 weeks. Notably, in all five states this information is required to be provided to every woman regardless of her stage in pregnancy.
  • Our analysis of state abortion counseling laws and materials reveals that policymakers and public health officials frequently disregard the basic principles of informed consent in favor of furthering a highly politicized antiabortion goal. And, all signs point to their continued interest in doing so. Abortion-specific "informed consent" legislation was introduced in 27 states this year. In some cases, the bills would establish new counseling mandates in states without such a requirement; in others, the bills would amend current counseling requirements. For example, legislation in 12 states would amend current law to require that women be given information on fetal pain. A bill in one state seeks to add information, although discredited, on the link between abortion and breast cancer.
  • In July 2006, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) released the results of an investigation examining the scientific accuracy of information provided by federally funded crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), which have received over $30 million in federal funds under the Bush administration since 2001. (According to the report, most of these funds are not used for abortion counseling, but instead for abstinence-only education. However, CPCs receive additional federal funding for general “capacity building” activities.) The investigation was conducted by minority staff for the House Committee on Government Reform. Committee investigators called 25 centers that receive federal capacity-building grants, posing as pregnant 17-year-olds who were considering abortion and were seeking additional information on the procedure. The investigators reached a CPC staffer at 23 of the 25 centers.
    According to the report, an overwhelming majority of the centers—20 of the 23—provided “false or misleading information” on the physical and mental health risks of abortion to pregnant women. For example, eight centers told women that their chance of developing breast cancer will rise substantially if they have an abortion. One clinic in particular said there was a 50% greater chance that a woman will develop cancer after an abortion, whereas another said the likelihood could be as high as 80% greater.
    In addition, seven centers informed the caller that there is an increased risk of fertility problems after abortion. One center told the caller that having an abortion “could destroy your chances of ever having children again.”
    Also, 13 of the 23 centers told callers that having an abortion would cause a host of detrimental mental health outcomes. One center, for instance, said that after an abortion, the risk of suicide “goes up by seven times.” Others asserted that women could suffer from a range of negative outcomes such as guilt, numbness, anxiety, drug use, eating disorders and sexual dysfunction.
    Alarmingly, this investigation also highlighted the fact that CPCs often mask their antiabortion agenda to attract pregnant women who are seeking medical advice and dissuade them from obtaining an abortion. Many centers act under the guise of organizations that provide pregnant women with a comprehensive set of options, including abortion services, even though CPCs neither provide abortions nor referrals for abortions. After pulling together the results of the investigation, the authors concluded, “A pregnant teenager who relied on the information from these federally funded centers would make her decision about whether to give birth or terminate her pregnancy based on erroneous facts and misinformation.” The report demonstrates the extent to which CPCs grossly distort the facts when it comes to discussing the risks associated with abortion—all in an effort to promote an antiabortion message.
  • Alarmingly, this investigation also highlighted the fact that CPCs often mask their antiabortion agenda to attract pregnant women who are seeking medical advice and dissuade them from obtaining an abortion. Many centers act under the guise of organizations that provide pregnant women with a comprehensive set of options, including abortion services, even though CPCs neither provide abortions nor referrals for abortions. After pulling together the results of the investigation, the authors concluded, “A pregnant teenager who relied on the information from these federally funded centers would make her decision about whether to give birth or terminate her pregnancy based on erroneous facts and misinformation.” The report demonstrates the extent to which CPCs grossly distort the facts when it comes to discussing the risks associated with abortion—all in an effort to promote an antiabortion message.

Guttmacher.org. "States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011" (July 13, 2011)


"States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011". (July 13, 2011).

  • In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.
  • A Mix of Old and New Strategies to Curb Access to Abortion Care
    Counseling and waiting periods. Five states (IN, KS, ND, SD and TX) adopted laws related to abortion counseling and waiting periods in 2011, but a measure adopted by South Dakota at the end of March went significantly farther than those approved in other states. The law expands the pre-abortion waiting period to 72 hours, requires the woman to visit a crisis pregnancy center in the interim and mandates that abortion counseling be provided in-person by the physician who will perform the procedure. The counseling must include information on all known risk factors related to abortion, even when the information is not supported by mainstream medical opinion and is methodologically unsound. The law is currently not in effect, pending the outcome of a legal challenge.
    Gestational bans. Legislators in 15 states introduced measures based on a law adopted in Nebraska last year. The provision bans abortions at and after 20 weeks’ gestation, based on the spurious assumption that a fetus can feel pain at that point. Under the measure, abortions may be performed after 20 weeks only if the woman’s life is endangered or if there is a risk of “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.” So far this year, similar measures have been adopted in five states (AL, ID, IN, KS and OK; see State Policies on Later Term Abortion). These laws appear to conflict with Supreme Court rulings barring states from placing an undue burden on women seeking an abortion prior to viability, a point that occurs well past 20 weeks.
    “Heartbeat” bill. Ohio is taking a different approach to achieve the same goal of banning abortion. In June, the House adopted a measure that would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs between six and 10 weeks’ gestation. The bill is awaiting action in the Senate.
    Banning abortion coverage in new insurance exchanges. With plans for the implementation of health care reform underway in most states, the issue of insurance coverage for abortion was considered in 24 states, and restrictions were enacted in eight. In four states (KS, NE, OK and UT), the new laws restrict abortion coverage under all private health insurance plans. These restrictions will apply to coverage that will be available through the health exchanges being set up, as will new measures enacted in four other states (FL, ID, IN and VA). Including these new laws, eight states now restrict abortion coverage that is offered in any private health plan (including coverage through an exchange), and six others have restrictions that apply only to coverage through health exchanges (see Restricting Insurance Coverage of Abortion).
    Medication abortion. Legislatures devoted significant attention to medication abortion for the first time during the 2011 session; measures were introduced in 14 states and enacted in six. Medication abortion has become an integral part of abortion care, now accounting for 17% of procedures provided in nonhospital clinics. Lawmakers considered two types of restrictions related to medication abortion:
    Laws enacted this year in Kansas and Oklahoma require abortion providers to use a protocol that was specified by the FDA when the method was approved in 2000. This protocol has since been supplanted by a new one that, based on a substantial body of evidence, supports a more streamlined procedure under which women are given a lower dose of the medication and allowed to take the second dose at home, eliminating a second visit to the abortion provider. The new protocol also allows use of medication abortion up to 63 days’ gestation, rather than the 49 days permitted under the FDA protocol. A similar restriction that was enacted by Ohio in 2004 was recently upheld in federal court.
    In an entirely new approach to restricting access to abortion, five states (AZ, KS, ND, NE and TN) banned the use of telemedicine for the provision of medication abortion, a procedure through which a woman can go to an abortion provider, receive counseling via videoconference from a physician in another location who then authorizes on-site staff to dispense the medication. Use of telemedicine in general has been growing rapidly in recent years, and is widely credited with expanding access to medical care in areas, especially rural communities, where services have often been inaccessible.

"Breast Cancer and the Politics of Abortion in the United States" (October 2005)


Jasen, P (October 2005). "Breast Cancer and the Politics of Abortion in the United States". Med Hist. 49 (4): 423–44. PMC 1251638. PMID 16562329.

  • Epidemiology, like any branch of medical science, functions within a social and historical context. That context influences what questions are asked, how they are investigated, and how their conclusions are interpreted, both by researchers and by the public. The international debate over whether abortion increases breast cancer risk, which has been the subject of many studies and much heated controversy in recent decades, became so intensely politicized in the United States that it serves as a particularly stark illustration of how elusive the quest for scientific certainty can be. Although a growing interest in reproductive factors and breast cancer risk developed after the Second World War, it was not until the early 1980s, after induced abortion had been legalized in many countries, that studies began to focus on this specific factor. In the US these were the years following Roe v Wade, when anti-abortionists mounted their counterattack and pro-choice forces were on the defensive. As a result, epidemiologists found themselves at the centre of a debate which had come to symbolize a deepening divide in American culture. This paper traces the history of the scientific investigation of the alleged abortion-breast cancer link, against the backdrop of what was increasingly termed an “epidemic” of breast cancer in the US. That history, in turn, is closely intertwined with the anti-abortion movement's efforts, following the violence of the early 1990s, to regain respectability through changing its tactics and rhetoric, which included the adoption of the “ABC link” as part of its new “women-centred” strategy.
  • Intensive research into the role abortion might play in breast cancer risk would not begin for another quarter century but, during the intervening years, the legal status of the procedure changed in many countries, making it possible for the subject to be discussed more openly, and for more accurate statistical records to be kept. By far the greatest controversy surrounding this area of research would develop in the US, where the debate over abortion was passionate and deeply divisive. Prior to 1973, abortion was illegal in thirty US states, with the exception of cases where the life of the mother was in danger, while in at least a dozen others abortion was permitted only in cases of rape or incest, or if the fetus suffered severe abnormalities.7 Abortion law was thus very inconsistent from one jurisdiction to another; in some states, even providing information on how to obtain an abortion elsewhere could lead to arrest. Challenges to abortion laws across the US eventually led to the sweeping decision by the Supreme Court on 22 January 1973. While Roe v Wade did not recognize a woman's “absolute right” to an abortion under the Constitution, it allowed (but did not require) states to regulate abortion only after the fetus was viable (i.e. in the third, or in some cases the second, trimester). By 1980, over one and half million abortions were being reported each year. The majority of them were performed in freestanding clinics, which mushroomed even in the weeks that followed Roe v Wade.
  • By the early 1990s, the debate over the possible link between abortion and breast cancer was about to move beyond the pages of medical journals and into the public eye. This was not, as yet, because of a growing concern among clinicians; a study of physicians' perceptions of breast cancer risk conducted in southern California during 1991–2 revealed that none of those interviewed mentioned abortion among the twenty-nine potential risk factors listed.30 Instead, public awareness of the controversy would come in the wake of Janet Daling's new study, outlined below. Like others, this study had its flaws, and would not have received mass media coverage and aroused the interest of anti-abortion politicians if it were not for two factors. Firstly, the alarming claim that there was an epidemic of breast cancer in the United States, especially among younger women, had been widely reported in the early 1990s and had become an intensely political issue. Secondly, the anti-abortion campaign had reached a stage in its increasingly violent history when new strategies were needed, and activists recognized that an association between abortion and breast cancer could be very useful to their cause.
  • During the same years as research into a possible abortion-breast cancer link was intensifying so, too, was the militancy of the anti-abortion movement. Fundamentalist Christianity and the New Right had become closely allied, but, after Republican Ronald Reagan was elected president in 1980, there was disappointment and a sense of betrayal, for the new administration did not seek to reverse Roe v Wade. In 1983 the Senate defeated an amendment that would have returned the abortion issue to the state level, and there continued to be about one and a half million abortions performed in the US each year.31 As the lobbying efforts of the non-violent majority in the movement seemed to have accomplished little, supporters of direct action rose to prominence, first employing tactics, such as sit-ins, inherited from the tradition of civil disobedience, but moving on by the mid-1980s to clinic break-ins and bombings. Carol Mason has analysed the rise of an apocalyptic narrative within the movement—the understanding that if abortion were not stopped, God would cease to protect America.32 The evangelical leaders Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell gave their support to the violent strategies of such groups as Operation Rescue, and at the 1988 Democratic convention in Atlanta hundreds of demonstrators were arrested. But most politicians knew by that point that a majority of Americans had come to accept the right of adults to seek early abortion, and the newly elected Republican leader, the elder George Bush, would not commit his party—in his words—to a “litmus test” on the abortion question.33 The belief that they had once again been abandoned by the conservative establishment encouraged even more desperate measures on the part of anti-abortion activists, but the 1993 murder of the physician David Gunn irreparably harmed the movement. In 1994, President Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (known as FACE), and the Supreme Court ruled that lower courts could establish “protest-free buffer zones” around abortion clinics. Arsons, bombings, and murders of clinic workers continued during that year, leading to the collapse of violent anti-abortion activism in the US.34 Organizations such as National Right to Life reasserted their leadership in the movement and pursued more targeted strategies, including opposition to late-term abortion (termed partial-birth abortion) and to FDA approval of the abortion drug RU-486.35 They also began to use the alleged abortion-breast cancer link to discourage women from abortion and to demand new legislation.
  • The publication of Daling's report and Rosenberg's response unleashed a reaction that put pro-choice advocates on the defensive. Time magazine reported that, months before the results were officially released, anti-abortionists “laid plans to trumpet the seven-year study's findings”, while “in the opposition camp, pro-choice groups marshalled the statistics they needed” to defend their position. While the study was still in progress, Daling was pursued for days by a Virginia lawyer employed by a right-to-life group trying to recruit her as a spokesperson, and she recounted how she finally told him, “I don't think you care one bit about breast cancer and women's health”.47 Once the report appeared, newspapers, magazines, and television news shows publicized the highlights, many cautiously, but some in a partisan fashion, either praising or criticizing the study. Daling herself repeatedly told the media that politics and personal views should not be allowed to cloud the issue, but it was inevitable that breast cancer would become a new weapon in the abortion wars. For example, Christ's Bride Ministries rented space in rapid-transit stations in the eastern US to advertise that “Women who choose abortion suffer more and deadlier breast cancer!” (wording which Brind helped choose), and the federal order to remove the posters in Philadelphia fuelled charges of a cover-up by Washington. Meanwhile, anti-abortionists in Congress began a long campaign demanding hearings on the abortion-breast cancer question, and more post-Reagan, New Right Republicans were drawn to the issue. Doubting the effectiveness of sheer denial on the part of pro-choice advocates in such a climate, the left-leaning magazine Mother Jones took the view that, by attacking Daling's study and dismissing its findings outright, “most pro-choice groups have played right into Newt [Gingrich]'s hands”.
  • This final section of the paper will examine more closely how the so-called “ABC link” was incorporated into the strategy taken by anti-abortion activists after the collapse of direct action in the mid-1990s, a strategy still in use ten years later. Central to their rhetorical approach is the notion of informed consent—the argument that women have a right to know about the health risks associated with abortion, and that the link to cancer has been both irrefutably proved and deliberately concealed by the medical establishment. Elements of this phase of the campaign have included the founding of organizations, such as the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, whose members speak publicly and testify on this issue whenever possible; extensive use of the internet to warn women against abortion; the use of pregnancy-counselling centres to spread the ABC message; lobbying efforts to secure allies in Washington and to pressure the National Cancer Institute to change its stance on the issue; campaigns for state legislation intended to delay or discourage abortion—such as “Women's Right to Know” laws; and the mounting of malpractice suits against abortion clinics and physicians with the intent of making them uninsurable.
    All of these tactics are ostensibly directed towards breaking down a wall of silence which prevents women from knowing the truth. They also employ a common rhetorical strategy which gained steadily in importance as majority opinion in the US shifted towards a greater acceptance of reproductive choice. Instead of the exclusive emphasis on fetal rights and the portrayal of women who choose abortion as murderers, the newer “women-centred” strategy presents such women as the uninformed, unwitting victims of a pro-abortion culture and industry.68 While the focus on fetal rights appeared to disregard the needs and rights of women (and lost support as a result), this strategy presents itself as protective, sympathetic, forgiving, and ready to help the woman suffering psychological or physical harm resulting from her abortion. As Leslie Cannold observes, activists using this approach co-opt what they perceive as feminist rhetoric and depict themselves “as having an agenda-less desire” to defend women against patriarchal pressure and a medical establishment determined to conceal the truth. In addition, through its insistence that a majority of women who abort will suffer trauma or illness, it seeks to normalize “a catastrophic view of abortion”.
  • Although proponents of the abortion-breast cancer link lobby under the banner of informed consent, their efforts clearly dovetail with other strategies employed in what has been called “the quiet war on abortion” during the past ten years. State legislation requiring mandatory waiting periods, parental consent, and specific counselling procedures has been sought since the 1970s as a means of circumventing the limits imposed by Roe v Wade, but such efforts intensified during the mid-1990s and quickly became associated with the issue of a breast cancer link.90 Within a year of the publication of Daling's report, legislation had been passed in two states and proposed in several others, either directing authorities to investigate the cancer link or taking the form of “Women's Right to Know” acts requiring that women be advised of a possible cancer risk.91 The argument for parental consent laws, similarly, uses the danger of breast cancer to underscore the need for parents to be in control of their teenage daughters' health decisions. Such legislation is usually challenged, but statements made during the highly publicized court cases often enter into the rhetoric of the wider debate. A classic example of this process involved the suit by abortion providers against Florida's Parental Notification Law in 1999, which had already been twice struck down and revived. The case saw Joel Brind and Lynn Rosenberg as opposing expert witnesses,92 and, while the law was eventually overturned in 2003, both Brind's and Malec's organizations seized upon a portion of Rosenberg's testimony as evidence that “even Planned Parenthood's own expert” accepts that abortion posed a cancer risk for young women.93 In reality, Rosenberg had merely agreed under cross-examination that a pregnant 15-year-old who aborts will have a higher life time risk of breast cancer than the adolescent who carries her baby to term and reaps the benefit of very early childbearing.
  • The mid-1990s also saw the emergence of lawsuits which had a similar goal of limiting access to abortion under the guise of ensuring informed consent. Early in 1995, the British Medical Journal noted the growing importance of malpractice suits in the US aimed at forcing abortionists out of business. The author described how an organization called Life Dynamics assembled evidence of the alleged harm caused to individual women following abortion, including the danger of breast cancer, while helping to link lawyers with potential clients. Their long-term goal was to establish the legal understanding that women could sue, even years later, for any adverse effects of abortion. Even though most malpractice suits of this kind have not been successful, abortion providers who win their cases may still be considered an actuarial risk and have difficulty obtaining insurance.95 American anti-abortionists have drawn encouragement from the recent settlement of an Australian suit based, in part, on the breast cancer link, and, in 2003, Concerned Women for America announced the first case won in the US on behalf of the parents of a young Philadelphia woman. The award included the cost of “regular medical screening for breast cancer and future counseling”.
  • In addition to suits involving individual practitioners, clinics have also been targeted for failing to inform women of the breast cancer link. The first and most widely publicized case of this kind began in 1999, and its three and a half year history involved many of the major players on both sides of the conflict. A false advertising suit was filed against Red River Women's Clinic in Fargo, North Dakota, for stating in its information brochure (based on the National Cancer Institute's 1996 fact sheet) that medical research did not support claims that abortion increases breast cancer risk. The suit was filed by Amy Jo Mattson, variously referred to as a “sidewalk counselor” and an anti-abortion activist serving as a “front person for the antis” who were using the case as a testing ground. Active supporters included the local pregnancy crisis centre and the Fargo Catholic Diocese, which had originally prompted the clinic to make the statement in question by placing billboards along the interstate highway asking: “ ‘What increases your risk of breast cancer?’ ‘Abortion’”. Mattson was represented by John Kindley, who was engaged in a similar case in San Diego. If successful, explained Kindley, such a suit could “open the abortion industry up to hundreds of tobacco-like lawsuits…There are millions of women with potential causes of action out there”. The clinic was represented by Linda Rosenthal, on behalf of the Center for Reproductive Law and Policy based in New York City. While the suit, on the surface, had to do with the nature of informed consent, in the clinic's view its covert goals were “to scare women out of getting abortions and drain clinic resources” through legal expenses. The case finally went to trial in March 2002. Lynn Rosenberg was among the expert witnesses called by the defence, while the plaintiff's side relied on the testimony of Joel Brind. Once again, Daling's 1994 study competed with Melbye's 1997 report for credibility in the courtroom, and the scientific integrity of the National Cancer Institute was once more at issue. After a three-day trial, the judge ruled in favour of the defendant and also declared it reasonable that the clinic rely on the conclusions of authorities such as the NCI. Mattson appealed the decision to the North Dakota Supreme Court, which upheld the original decision. Proponents of the abortion-breast cancer link were vocal in their disappointment. “The court's decision stripped women of their right to informed consent”, Malec protested. “Women will die and children will lose their mothers because the abortion industry is consistently pro-death”. There was some gratification, however, in the attention the case and the wider issue had received. The Los Angeles Times, reporting on the trial, had described the furore over the cancer link as “the ferocious new front line in the abortion wars”.

“Before Roe V. Wade by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel” (2010)


“Before Roe V. Wade by Linda Greenhouse and Reva B. Siegel” (06/02/10), Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reprinted, with permission, from Greenhouse, Linda (2010). Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court's Ruling. Kaplan Publishing.

  • If Roe conformed to then-dominant modes of reasoning about abortion, at a time when the Gallup poll reported the belief of two-thirds of Americans that the abortion decision should be left to a woman and her doctor, how are we to understand the outcry against the decision that steadily mounted over the 1970s? Our review of the debate before Roe reveals several factors contributing to the conflict over abortion that were in play well before the Court issued its decision in January 1973, and identifies still other developments that intensified the conflict much later in the decade.
    In the period between 1970 and 1972, even as public support for decriminalization was continuing to grow, bitter conflict over abortion had already begun. The story of decriminalization in New York and Connecticut shows that, even where opponents of abortion’s liberalization were numerically outnumbered, they were single-issue focused and passionate in moral conviction. In the period before Roe, the Catholic Church led opposition to decriminalization, organizing to support and punish legislators who voted for abortion’s liberalization. The fact that the Church and the burgeoning right-to-life organizations were encouraging single-issue voting around abortion caught the attention of politicians—and not only state legislators. Even as Catholics were working to build institutions and arguments opposing abortion in secular and nonsectarian terms, abortion’s very identification as a “Catholic” voting issue (however Catholics were divided about abortion, in fact) made the issue of interest to strategists building coalitions for the national political parties during the 1972 presidential campaign.
    And so, by 1972, abortion was beginning to find a life in national party politics. Republican Party strategists seeking to persuade Catholic voters and other so-called social conservatives to abandon their traditional alignment with the Democrats and join the Republican cause began to incorporate arguments against abortion rights into their case against the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, George McGovern. Abortion rights, in this view, symbolized the new morality—a problematic “permissiveness” that afflicted the nation. Those who tarred McGovern as the “triple-A” candidate who favored amnesty, abortion, and acid may have suggested more of a difference between McGovern’s position on abortion and that of Republican nominee Richard Nixon than existed in fact; but the anti-McGovern arguments nonetheless helped reframe abortion’s meaning.
    Triple-A claims about abortion had little to do with the concerns motivating public health reformers (who spoke of back alleys and coat hangers) or the claim advanced by religious opponents of abortion that abortion was murder. But the triple-A claim had much to do with feminist arguments for abortion repeal. Triple-A attacks on McGovern condemned abortion rights as part of a permissive youth culture that was corrosive of traditional forms of authority. The objection to abortion rights was not that abortion was murder, but that abortion rights (like the demand for amnesty) validated a breakdown of traditional roles that required men to be prepared to kill and die in war and women to save themselves for marriage and devote themselves to motherhood. Phyllis Schlafly’s attack on abortion never mentioned murder; she condemned abortion by associating it with the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and child care.
    These shifts in the abortion right’s meaning were accelerating in 1972, as the ERA was sent to the states for ratification, and as the question of who should govern the nation was reverberating during the primaries and through the general election. But it is not clear whom these claims actually reached in the period before Roe. The claims reframing abortion that we have examined were designed to mobilize Catholic and conservative voters. Patrick Buchanan’s “assault book” advised the president’s campaign to send anti-abortion messages to Catholics and the National Right to Life Committee convention; and Phyllis Schlafly—who had worked for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 election—sent her Phyllis Schlafly Report to a network of conservative readers. The reframing of abortion that would take hold over the course of the 1970s had only incrementally begun at the time the Court handed down Roe. (The first justice to join the Court after Roe was John Paul Stevens, nominated in December 1975. His views on abortion were unknown, yet at his Senate confirmation hearing, he was not asked a single question about abortion.)
  • In the immediate aftermath of Roe, organized opposition to the decision was still carried by the National Right to Life Committee and the Catholic Church. The National Right to Life Committee began mobilizing in support of a constitutional amendment that would overturn Roe and constitutionalize an embryo’s/fetus’s right to life, thereby requiring all states to recriminalize abortion. By 1975, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops had promulgated a Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities that declared that “the decisions of the United States Supreme Court (January 22, 1973) violate the moral order, and have disrupted the legal process which previously attempted to safeguard the rights of children.” The plan urged “[p]assage of a constitutional amendment providing protection for the unborn child to the maximum degree possible,” and “[p]assage of federal and state laws and adoption of administrative policies that will restrict the practice of abortion as much as possible.”
    During the years after Roe, opponents were unable to muster broad-based support for overturning the decision and requiring abortion’s recriminalization. Many Americans supported the right recognized in Roe, some quite passionately. Others believed that abortion should be decriminalized but criticized the Court for deciding a question that might have been left to the political process. Those who believed the question should have been left to the legislature did not support a human life amendment constitutionalizing prohibitions on abortion of the kind the right-to-life movement was then advocating. Advocates of a human life amendment could not fi nd the support they needed, even among religious leaders. 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 aft er 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.
    When Roe was handed down, the family-values movement that would mobilize against the decision and ultimately carry Ronald Reagan to national office in 1980 had already begun to take shape, but it had not yet crystallized. That coalition did not form in spontaneous response to Roe but was instead built with the help of strategists for the Republican Party, including many brilliant Catholic conservatives. In the process, opposition to abortion as murder was married to a variety of socially conservative causes, accelerating the process of party realignment that had begun before Roe during the Nixon administration. When conservatives of the New Right began to assemble a pan-Christian coalition against Roe in the late 1970s, the crusade against Roe would proceed under the banner of “pro-life” and “pro-family.”
    Phyllis Schlafly’s Stop ERA organization associated the Equal Rights Amendment with abortion and gay marriage, using this frame to mobilize opposition to the amendment’s ratification in state houses across the country. During the mid-1970s, funding battles in Congress provided a lower-stakes arena in which to forge new alliances and erode support for the abortion right. By the late 1970s, Richard Viguerie and Paul Weyrich—architects of a more conservative Republican Party—were approaching such Protestant evangelicals as the Reverend Jerry Falwell and helping them to see in the abortion issue a question that could create a pan-Christian movement united against “secular humanism” and for “family values.” By 1980, the Christian Harvest Times was denouncing abortion in its “Special Report on Secular Humanism vs. Christianity”: “To understand humanism is to understand women’s liberation, the ERA, gay rights, children’s rights, abortion, sex education, the ‘new’ morality, evolution, values clarification, situational ethics, the loss of patriotism, and many of the other problems that are tearing America apart today.” In this way, a new relationship was emerging among Protestant evangelicals, the Catholic right-to-life movement, and the ascendant conservatives of the New Right. Increasingly lost in this transformation was an earlier Catholic association of a pro-life position with liberal ideals of social justice; forged was an increasingly tight association of pro-life with pro-family politics.
  • The Court’s decision in Roe was written by Justice Blackmun, whom President Nixon appointed to the Supreme Court in 1970, and supported by other of Nixon’s conservative appointees, including Lewis Powell, who during the Court’s deliberations actually advocated lengthening the time period in which women’s abortion decision was protected—from the end of the first trimester to the end of the second. But over the course of the 1970s, prominent Republicans shifted positions on abortion, acting on alignments and framings that were already in evidence by the 1972 election. By the decade’s end, conservatives of the New Right—led by Ronald Reagan, who, in the late 1960s, had signed California’s legislation liberalizing abortion—urged fundamentalist Christians to make common cause with Catholics in opposition to abortion and in support of family values. They attacked Roe as a threat to life and family and as a symbol of judicial overreaching. Republican Party platforms began regularly to support “the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”
    With Republican presidents appointing justices who might be counted on to oppose Roe, judicial support for the decision narrowed, and by the late 1980s, Roe looked vulnerable to outright reversal. But the women’s movement continued energetically to mobilize in support of the decision, and in 1987 it helped defeat the nomination of Robert Bork, a prominent critic of the Court’s privacy decisions. Ensuing Supreme Court appointments by Presidents Reagan and Bush seemed to provide sufficient votes to overturn Roe. And yet, in 1992—during a presidential campaign in which the abortion right was a burning issue—the Supreme Court decided Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a case that both reaffirmed and narrowed Roe.
  • All of these tactics are ostensibly directed towards breaking down a wall of silence which prevents women from knowing the truth. They also employ a common rhetorical strategy which gained steadily in importance as majority opinion in the US shifted towards a greater acceptance of reproductive choice. Instead of the exclusive emphasis on fetal rights and the portrayal of women who choose abortion as murderers, the newer “women-centred” strategy presents such women as the uninformed, unwitting victims of a pro-abortion culture and industry.68 While the focus on fetal rights appeared to disregard the needs and rights of women (and lost support as a result), this strategy presents itself as protective, sympathetic, forgiving, and ready to help the woman suffering psychological or physical harm resulting from her abortion. As Leslie Cannold observes, activists using this approach co-opt what they perceive as feminist rhetoric and depict themselves “as having an agenda-less desire” to defend women against patriarchal pressure and a medical establishment determined to conceal the truth. In addition, through its insistence that a majority of women who abort will suffer trauma or illness, it seeks to normalize “a catastrophic view of abortion”.

"Abortion Doctor Writes Powerful Response to Anti-Abortion Witch Hunt by Congress UPDATE X 2" (November 18, 2016)


Warren M. Hern as quoted by Ann Ros, "Abortion Doctor Writes Powerful Response to Anti-Abortion Witch Hunt by Congress UPDATE X 2". Daily Kos. (November 18, 2016)

  • Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder Abortion Clinic has written a stinging rebuke of a document request he received from Congress that was revealed in my Diary last week.
    I Fear for my Life. I Fear for my Patients describes his real concerns in light of the following:
    One week ago I received a chilling letter from Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), the most ferociously anti-abortion member of Congress, who chairs the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives.
    The letter demanded that I submit a wide variety of documents, including patient medical records in cases of gestations greater than 22 weeks. I have until Nov. 21 to comply.
    The panel is looking for evidence that I am selling “baby body parts.” It has the power of subpoena and can cite me for contempt of Congress if I don’t comply by the deadline.
    It is frightening. It is a witch hunt.
    I am a physician helping patients, and I am being treated like a criminal.
  • The term “abortionist” is a vicious, despicable, anti-abortion propaganda term intended to slander the person to whom it is applied. Your use of this grotesque term clearly displays your sectarian and punitive purposes, which are the opposite of any attempt to find truth, but rather to punish those you don’t understand. Your clear and unabashed purpose is to obstruct women seeking abortions, to control their lives, and to crush physicians who help them. You are using the coercive power of the State to impose your own religious and partisan beliefs upon those who do not share them. This is the antithesis of American society and constitutional democracy. We fought the American Revolution to rid ourselves of this oppressive, pestilential and authoritarian practice. Did you know that? Look it up.
  • There have been legitimate requests for fetal tissue from my patients by law enforcement authorities, who are seeking to prosecute individuals who committed crimes against those patients such as rape, incest, or child sexual abuse. We comply readily with these requests as a matter of social justice, professional courtesy and legal necessity. There is no charge for this service, performance of which I consider to be in the public interest.
    From time to time a patient terminating a pregnancy in my office for reasons of catastrophic fetal abnormality requests that we send fetal tissue to a specialized laboratory for study to determine accurately the cause of the fetal abnormality. On these occasions, we receive no money from anyone in filling these requests. To the contrary, there are costs that we personally absorb.
    Fetal tissue research has been conducted in medical laboratories for decades, and this has resulted in medical progress helping millions of people. Your vicious, mindless attacks on this research and those who have assisted with it betray your medieval, ignorant, anti-scientific attitudes that present a real and present danger to our society.
  • You surely must have better and more constructive legislative tasks to perform. Your pathological obsession with this matter is alarming. You cannot be oblivious to the fact that a clear majority of Americans believe in a woman’s right to choose abortion under safe conditions performed by qualified practitioners. A large proportion of pregnancies in this country are terminated by safe abortion, saving many women from the horrible deaths that occurred before abortion was legal in the United States. It is one of the great public health success stories of the past century. You and your Republican colleagues would force women back to the humiliation, fear, and suffering of back-alley abortions. You should be ashamed.
    You and your Republican colleagues oppose the availability of safe abortion. Yet it is a matter of record that, in your fanatical zeal to control women’s reproductive lives in every respect and restrict their most personal freedom, you also oppose the free, ready and available access to safe and effective contraception. The $1.59 million dollars that you are spending for this fraudulent “investigation” would pay for nearly 2,000 young women to have safe and effective long-acting contraception (LARC) that would prevent unwanted pregnancies. Even the most obtuse can see that such access would dramatically and immediately reduce the number of abortions. Your blindness to this, and your hypocrisy and political cynicism, is appalling.
  • Your sordid exploitation of this activity for political purposes places all of us – patients, physicians, and all members of my staff – at risk of violent retaliation by anti-abortion fanatics. You know this. This is not some paranoid fantasy. A number of physicians specializing in abortion services have been assassinated, on at least one occasion in the physician’s church, and numerous other people, including an off-duty police officer and one physician’s bodyguard, have been murdered in cold blood by anti-abortion fanatics, each assassin a so-called “peaceful” anti-abortion protester up until the moment of the murder.
    When is the last time you ever spoke out and condemned these senseless and spineless murders?
    You and your Republican Party are vigorously allied with a violent terrorist movement that threatens the lives of women, their families, and health care workers. As part of this sham “investigation,” your letter to me and letters to other physicians constitute a program of target identification for anti-abortion assassins. You can deny this, but it is a fact.
    Your “investigation” is legislative harassment that endangers our lives. The blood of any of us who are assassinated is on your hands.
  • In fact, your Select Investigative Panel is a callous, delusional witch hunt that is very much in the tradition of Republican abuse of power most hideously exemplified by Joseph McCarthy sixty-five years ago in his rampage of destruction of lives and reputations. Your Republican contemporaries in the House of Representatives waste millions of taxpayer dollars on these destructive and pointless “investigations” of their political opponents. You pick on women, particularly poor women, and doctors. Everyone knows that women of means will always be able to obtain abortions. What a shameless coward you are.
    Your despicable “investigation” is in the historical tradition also of the witch hunts of medieval Europe and colonial America, the Spanish Inquisition, and other faith-based government programs of sectarian persecution. You will join them and Joe McCarthy in the history of the darkest of times in our Nation’s past. It is also in the disgraceful Republican tradition over the past forty years of exploiting the abortion issue and the lives and anguish of women in order to gain political power. You have succeeded.

"The American Historian: Abolishing Abortion: The History of the Pro-Life Movement in America"


Jennifer H. Holland, "The American Historian: Abolishing Abortion: The History of the Pro-Life Movement in America". Organization of American Historians

  • In March 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump argued that women who had abortions should be punished if abortion were made illegal. Trump quickly reversed himself, but the previously pro-choice candidate had stumbled into an argument that pro-life advocates have studiously avoided over the last forty years for fear of being labelled antiwoman. Some social observers looked at such statements and wondered if they signaled the declining importance of pro-life politics, and social conservatism more broadly, to the Republican party. Is the antiabortion movement no longer relevant in the United States? Those who would answer yes might suffer from myopia. In fact, the antiabortion movement, in its many iterations, has radically transformed Americans’ ideas about women’s bodies, reproduction, feminist politics, and of course, fetal life. In the two centuries the movement has existed, its constituencies, tactics, and tools have all changed. But what has remained is the effect this movement has had on women’s lives. In the end, the pro-life movement transformed ideas as it also restricted the real ability of American women to access reproductive healthcare.
  • The first “right-to-life” movement was not led by grassroots activists, but rather physicians, anxious about their professional status. Before then, physicians had been a largely unregulated bunch, without the institutional or cultural authority to corner the market on healing. In the early nineteenth century, a variety of other healers competed with physicians for business, especially the business of women’s reproductive healthcare. While many physicians believed that scientific medicine would benefit their patients, some, in order to hurt lay healers’ business, sought governmental licensing and regulation to weed out the competition. Physicians used anti-abortion laws, pushed in state legislatures, to increase their own stature and undermine their opponents.
    Of course, many would have narrated this story very differently. Some physicians claimed that this campaign was a product of superior medical knowledge. Many argued that women (and rag-tag group of healers who offered abortion) did not have adequate embryonic knowledge to determine when life began. But historians have noted that this medical insight was not a result of any advancements in embryonic knowledge. In fact, there were none during these campaigns. Instead, the fetus was merely a stand-in for a broader cultural project. Here, the movement tapped into concerns over women’s increasing education, autonomy, and the extension of rights, as it reasserted women’s connection to and limitation by their own reproductive anatomy. Women’s bodies, not their words or actions, confessed to doctors the “naturalness” of uninterrupted reproduction and the “truth” about fetal life. Bodily processes could “speak for themselves,” though they did need doctors to translate.
    This effort largely succeeded. By 1900 every state had a law forbidding abortion at any stage, whether through the use of drugs or procedures. Almost all the laws passed during this time included a therapeutic exception, where licensed physicians could provide abortions at their own discretion as long as the abortion preserved the life of the mother. While this loophole allowed many women to obtain abortions, it also made doctors the ultimate arbiters of the morality and legality of abortions. These laws also created a large black market for women who could not access or obtain abortions through medical channels.
  • There was not much of an antiabortion movement between 1900 and 1965 because the state did its work. Police, courts, and lawmakers prosecuted abortionists and harassed women who procured the procedure. But in the 1960s, some Americans began to demand change from their states.
  • In the midst of states’ efforts at abortion reform, the modern antiabortion political movement was born. Small groups of Catholic doctors, nurses, lawyers, and housewives joined together to oppose liberalization. In 1967 the National Council of Catholic Bishops aided their campaigns with support, money, and the formation of the National Right to Life Committee. Early Catholic activists were often joined by a handful of non-Catholics, usually Protestants, Mormons, or Orthodox Christians. Supporters of abortion reform argued that “right-to-life” forces were attempting to push Catholic values on a diverse American populace, and consequently many antiabortion groups worked to present themselves as ecumenical or non-denominational. Most of these early groups failed to stop changes in their state’s abortion law but they did have some successes in the early 1970s, suggesting that not every state was ready for abortion reform.
    The 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, legalizing abortion in all fifty states, changed everything and nothing. In the 1970s the anti-abortion movement remained heavily Catholic, and they continued to pitch their issue as a rights issue rather than a religious one. But in other essential ways the movement changed. Before Roe, the anti-abortion movement was very small, geographically disperse, and focused on individual state legislatures. After 1973 activists and state legislators alike worried that Roe prescribed a one-size-fits-all abortion law that could only be addressed at the national level. Thus, in the 1970s, activists promoted the Hyde Amendment (which successfully prohibited federal funding of abortions through Medicaid) and pushed, unsuccessfully, a constitutional amendment banning abortion. After 1973 the direction of pro-life activism changed, even as its demographics and core political arguments remained the same.
  • While antiabortion activists retained their focus on individual fetal rights, they began to develop new ways to convey that message to the public that focused on the fetus and excised the woman. The tools that had the largest effect were graphic pictures of aborted fetuses, the most important drawn from John and Barbara Willke’s Handbook on Abortion. Some later called it the “Bible of the pro-life movement.” The Willkes were a Catholic couple, a doctor and a nurse, who became convinced that pictures would help end legal abortion. The four pictures they put in their book, collected from sympathetic doctors and pathologists, were quickly reproduced and used in all parts of the movement. Their work built on a longer, medical history of viewing and personifying the fetus. Twentieth-century medical advances extended nineteenth-century doctors’ interest in fetal life. After World War II, new medical technologies allowed doctors to view and treat fetuses in new ways, while others examined fetal development for the cures to persistent human problems, ultimately personifying and individualizing the fetus. The Willkes and others simply extended this medical tradition into politics. They became sure that images helped people to understand a fetus, legally and culturally, as a baby. Thus the movement continued to develop new tools and technologies to this end: pictures of fetuses, in utero and aborted, fetal models, and fetuses in jars in the 1970s; fetal pins, dolls, jewelry, and clothes in addition to a proliferation of pro-life movies in the 1980s; and ultrasound visuals of fetuses in the 1990s and 2000s. Using these images, activists made a political pitch and moved fetal bodies squarely into American political culture.
  • As activists moved the fetus into the political spotlight, they tried to keep the pregnant woman behind the curtain. Increasingly in the 1970s, they attempted to link their campaign to civil rights and human rights work, which led to increasingly heated rhetoric. Some activists said legal abortion was worse than the Jewish Holocaust. Others argued that the Roe decision was akin to the 1857 Dred Scott decision, which ruled that black people—slave or free—were not U.S. citizens and thus not protected by the Constitution. Both decisions, they argued, made some groups “less than human” and degraded life. While not actually working on civil rights and human rights issues, pro-life activists used those causes to make the fetus a sympathetic victim and pro-life activists into modern day abolitionists. (These arguments also helped redeem the Republican party in the aftermath of “massive resistance” in the South.) But activists avoided discussing what would happen to American women if abortion became illegal. They tried to silence those in their midst who voiced the old argument that pregnancy punished women for promiscuity. Activists instead claimed that abortion providers and the feminists who condoned legal abortion were truly to blame.
  • In the late 1970s and early 1980s, evangelical Christians joined the movement in great numbers, rejuvenating and eventually radicalizing the movement. Previously, in the late 1960s, evangelical scholars, pastors, and physicians could not agree on whether or not abortion was sinful. But by late 1970s and early 1980s, this sentiment had changed. Many evangelical laypeople and clergy opposed legal abortion and joined the fight to end it. Some simply joined existing pro-life groups; others formed new, more radical groups that rejected the politics of legislative reform. The most famous of the latter cohort was Operation Rescue, which sought to end abortion by “any means necessary.” Operation Rescue pioneered the pro-life “rescue,” in which thousands of activists created human blockades in front of clinics. In the 1980s and 1990s, Operation Rescue performed such rescues in cities across the nation, tying up the city’s police departments, filling local jails, and making it incredibly difficult to get an abortion. Their national media spectacle sought to attract reporters and stun the American public. Extremists in the movement went even further. Between the early 1980s and the 2000s, there were 153 assaults, 383 death threats, 3 kidnappings, 18 attempted murders, and 9 murders related to abortion providers.
  • As rescues captured the imaginations, enthusiasm, and anger of many anti-abortion activists, others continued to do the quiet work of incremental legal change. In the 1980s and 1990s, many pro-lifers, especially those who remained in more mainstream right to life groups, focused on making access to abortion more difficult on the state level. Due to their efforts, states across the country passed laws that required parental notification, “informed consent” (mandating women view materials about fetal development and the risks of abortion), and waiting periods between the initial consultation and the abortion. In 1992 the Supreme Court validated the legality of such laws in Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, crafting a new rationale to determine the constitutionality of laws regulating abortion. Restrictions were legal as long as they did not place an “undue burden” on women seeking the procedure, validating the work of anti-abortion activists and making abortion increasingly difficult to access—especially for rural or poor women.
  • The radical and moderate groups differed in terms of strategy, but together they succeeded at reorienting the conversation about abortion. Both types of groups worked to make pro-life politics central to social conservatism and by extension the Republican party. They made fetal life central to how many Christians viewed their religion and their politics. They asked conservative children to think of themselves as “survivors of the Abortion Holocaust.” And they helped new “family values” constituents consider the fetus a member of the family and legal abortion the biggest challenge facing the modern family. In all these efforts, activists were successful, not for all Americans but for enough to build an expansive movement with the defense of fetal life as its core.
    Perhaps most importantly, activists from the 1980s onward reinterpreted women’s relationship to abortion. They brought back the old argument about the “truth” told by women’s bodies and gave it a modern twist. Feminists, they argued, had persuaded women to deny the fundamental truth of fetal life. Abortion damaged women’s bodies, but also their psyches. Women, they argued, were traumatized by abortion and like veterans, suffered from a form of post-traumatic stress. Only the pro-life movement could turn the tide against the psychological and physical damage of abortion and feminism. In the 1980s and 1990s pro-life activists recast themselves as both the protectors of women and the true women’s rights movement.

“Pro-life activists in America Meaning, Motivation, and Direct Action” (2002)


Maxwell, Carol J.C. (2002). “Pro-life activists in America Meaning, Motivation, and Direct Action”. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521660440.

  • In the mid 1970s, abortion clinics in the United State experienced their first sit-ins, orchestrated by activists who eventually came to call themselves “rescuers.” These activists added a new dimension to the anti-abortion movement generally termed “direct activism.” Since then, pro-life direct action has been either feared or dismissed as a manifestation of religious conservatism, the work of a relatively homogenous group. My first encounter with these activists challenged both presumptions and suggested, instead, that an unexpected array of private motivations underlay a fairly uniform mode of public expression. Intrigued by the apparent complexity of this phenomenon, I embarked on two years of field observations to provide an anthropological account of this social movement. By taking this approach I found that, not only was individual motivation within the group I encountered diverse, but the movement’s sociological composition and the basis of members’ ideological commitment to direct action shifted over time. While mass anti-abortion sit-ins are not currently occurring, a close understanding of this movement offers valuable insight into both activism and motivation, more generally.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.1
  • The moral and legal status of abortion is not, of course, solely a preoccupation of contemporary America. It has been debated and documented, if inconsistently over the last 2,000 years, and around the world (Noonan 1970; Rodman, Sarvis, and Bonar 1987). This long history makes the meaning of any one point in this contentious dialogue contingent, and its use as a starting point dubious. Consider the 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision, which halted a state-by-state revamping of abortion law in favor of a national standard that legalized abortion, with few limiting provisions. Depending on the point in history one choses to hark back to, “Roe” could be considered: 1) the lawful reinstatement of a legal and at least tacitly accepted practice; or 2) the reversal of a long-standing legal position and legitimization of what was previously construed to be a crime. The first perspective privileges history prior to the nineteenth-century physicians’ campaign, which was conducted throughout the last half of the 1800s (as part of a larger national trend to centralize and rationalize society; cf. Ginsburg 1989). At the turn of that century, “no jurisdiction in the United States had enacted any statues whatsoever on the subject of abortion” and “those American women who wished to practice abortion did so” (Mohr 1978:vii). The second perspective focuses on the legal context that the physicians’ campaign eventually created. By 1900 the physicians’ campaign had brought about laws circumscribing and criminalizing abortion in “virtually every jurisdiction in the United States” (Mohr 1978:vii). Such radical changes in the legal status of abortion indicate equally pervasive changes in popular attitudes toward abortion, and, consequently, in its moral status.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.7
  • Rescuer’s demographic profile alone suggests that models explaining “conventional” pro-life activism (that is, legal activism) are inadequate to explain participation in pro-life “direct action”. Direct activists were not the socioeconomic marginal some authors suggest. They would not be accurately described as downwardly mobile, disenfranchised, socially isolated, poor, undereducated, underemployed, and so forth. However, their opposition to abortion was radicalized to some extent by their own ideologically derived perceptions of marginalization. That is, many activists perceived themselves to be excluded from the mechanisms through which people control and change society. They spoke of their religious values as making them a targeted, disenfranchised minority vulnerable to the havoc wrought by a dominant “liberal,” “humanist” majority.
    The various groups comprising the pro-life direct action movement over time each went through a series of developmental stages, as did the movement as a whole (cf. Stewart, Smith, and Denton 1989). Identifying these stages helps explain divergent trends in the frequency of violent and nonviolent acts at abortion clinics. However, although helpful, stage theory only provides a partial explanation. A closer look at the way individuals reacted to their political environment illuminates the rise in violence that coincided with decreasing participation in sit-ins (cf. Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter 1956). Such considerations bear implicaitons for future radical opposition to abortion.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.9
  • The activists’ situated interpretation of ethics made their approaches to moral dilemmas appear to spiral between “care” and “justice” orientations-two approaches to moral reasoning first described as a dichotomy (cf. Gilligan 1982). Pro-life activists thus presented a pattern somewhat different from the linear progression embodied in traditional developmental models of moral reasoning, and different still from Gilligan’s alternative to the linear model (cf. 1982). Furthermore, and again contrary to a dichotomized model, pro-life activist’ impartialist moral orientations appeared to be dependent on, or at least interactive with, particularistic approaches to moral reasoning.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.12
  • Despite the evolving nature of “direct action” in St. Louis, the epitome of pro-life direct action was always “rescuing”-that is, attempting to stop specific, planned abortions from taking place. “Rescuers” directly attempted to stop abortions in three ways: intercepting an dissuading patients, blocking linic entrances, or causing clinics to close for business. ((Some activists stretched the meaning almost to the breaking point when, occasionally, they defined prayer as direct action.) The recurring theme in direct activists; discourse was that the hallmark of rescue was risking arrest (for sitting-in or trespassing). Tactics that did not expose activist to attest seemed complementary rather than focal.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.14
  • Direct activists attempted to close clinics by contaminating or damaging doctors’ equipment, occupying or contaminating clinic premises, increasing legal regulations so that continued operations would not be profitable, or by dissuading landlords from renewing clinic’s leases. BY blocking clinic entrances, activists intended to turn pregnant women away with their ruckus, hoping the women would later decide not to abort. Direct activists employed several rhetorical tactics to dissuade the women impeded by their sit-ins. They termed their key rhetorical strategies “sidewalk counseling” and “truth talks.” “Sidewalk counseling, which entailed speaking to “abortion-bound mothers” potentially achieved the same end as sitting-in, and so was often classed as direct action and called “rescuing.” In fact, many saw it as the “sine qua noon” of rescue. Like sitting-in, sidewalk counseling often entailed “risking arrest” (for trespassing on clinic property in violation of an injunction). “Truth talks” were conducted by two-person team of activists. In one version, a male-female team entered a clinic waiting area posing as a couple and implying that the man was pressuring the woman to abort. The couple would start to argue and the woman would accuse the man of not caring about her or her baby. She would become angry and leave, “deciding” not to abort. In the other version, two women would pose as mother and daughter. The older woman would ask the younger if she was sure she wanted to “go ahead with this,” and the younger woman would respond uncertainly, show her “mother” the pro-life literature she had picked up on her way into the clinic, then turn to the other women in the waiting areas, show them the literature and ask them what they thought. The pair would end their performance by “deciding” against the abortion and leaving the clinic.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, pp.14-15
  • [T]he definition of direct action hinged on the private meanings people gave to particular practices. Some people limited the definition of direct action to sitting-in and sidewalk counseling. Other people extended the definition to include picketing outside abortion clinics, either because it contribute dot the impression that “something is wrong here” (and so might dissuade incoming patients), or because the actions termed “picketing” by observers were understood differently by participants. For example, some people understood “picket lines” to be powerful, prayerful proclamations of God’s authority and injunctions against the “evil” abiding in clinics. Other people explained that “picketing” was showing one’s gratitude to God, fulfilling a Biblical enjoinder to “stand at the gates and give warning,” or “witnessing” to God’s will.
    Direct activists closed clinics several times by vandalizing them. In addition to fouling entrance door locks, or padlocking then closed several times by vandalizing them. In addition to fouling entrance door locks, or padlocking them closed, which was done repeatedly, they employed several tactics that were never repeated despite their effectiveness in preventing clinic operations. For example, several interviewees recalled that in once instance, while occupying a clinic, they slipped a box of frozen fish above the drop ceiling of a procedure room. The fish spoiled quickly and the odor was to powerful that the clinic closed for several das to locate the problem. In another instance, they staged a “car sit-in” by abandoning many cars tickly packed in front of a clinic’s doors. In yet another instance, an activist obstructed a clinic entrance with massive cement blocks.
    Such contamination and blockading tactics were effective, did not result in arrest, and entailed les emotional strain than the face-to-face confrontation most activists dreaded during sit-ins. This emotional stress was, perhaps, the most salient cost of sitting-in and sidewalk counseling.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.15
  • Most direct activists said they would rather be arrested for sitting-in than endure the personal confrontation involved in sidewalk counseling, yet they also reported feeling nauseated before each sit-in due to anxiety over the thought of confronting police and clinic personnel. The relative infrequency with which contamination and object blockades were employed indicates the complex motivations behind other, more personally costly tactics such as sitting-in and sidewalk counseling.
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.16
  • The contest between pro-life and pro-choice activists is not a microcosm of sentiment felt across the nation. Pro-life direct activists’ adamant opposition to abortion (like pro-choicers’ staunch support for it) diverges sharply from the nuanced attitudes expressed by the broader American public. General Social Survey data from 1987 through 1991, assessing the general public, show “considerable overlap between characteristics of pro-life and pro-choice citizens”; even people at either people, that is, those who agree with either pro-life or pro0choice stances, “share many values with their ostensible opponents” (Cook, Helen, and Wilcox 1992:155-6). Cook, Jelen, and Wilcox found among the broader citizenry “a narrow majority [of]. . . situationalists, who favor legal access to abortion in some circumstances, but not others” (1992:156). Cook, Jelen, and Wilcox note that, while different positions on abortion exist within the general public, and demographic differences do matter, “the image of two oppose camps, each questioning the integrity and morality of the other, does not describe the mass public in the United States” (1992:156). However,they point out that, at the activist level, the debate abour abortion “seems concerned with such ultimate values that compromise is difficult to envision” (1992:11).
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.16
  • Abortion sets core American values in conflict, and public opinion on abortion reflects this contest (Cook, Jelen, and Wilcox 1992). Abortion sets Americans’ belief in individualism in conflict with a general Judeao-Christian tradition. These values give rise to more concrete issues: the importance and status of child bearing, gender roles, sexual morality, and the sanctity of human life. Cook, Jelen and Wilcox found that “most Americans hold values that pull them in both pro-choice and pro-life direction” (1992:156). Balancing these opposite pulls, “a majority of Americans appears to believe that the status of the embryo and the prerogatives of the mother must be weighted and balanced in some fashion” (Cook, Jelen, and Wilcox 1992:11).
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.16
  • In the relatively homogenous context of a small town, Ginsburg found that activists’ disparate responses to abortion grew out of the nexus of their particular sociohistorical experiences and their own life-cycle transitions. She argued that their “narratives revolve around transitions in the female life-cycle that were experienced as stressful and incongruous, generating a ‘life crisis,’” aggravated by rapid social change that called into question the :social rules for an assumed life trajectory” (1989:13.138). Ginsburg found that through abortion activism, women created “both an interpretation and arena of action” that they used to “reframe in social terms what they had experienced initially as problematic shifts specific to their individual lives” (1989:139). In so doing, “activists create alternative ‘life scripts’ to what they considered to be a conventional cultural form for a female life trajectory” (1989:144).
    • Chapter 1 Choosing Incivility, p.19
  • Ginsburg sees women’s efforts to define their reproductive roles and experiences as crucial to their abortion activism, concluding that “for almost all of the activists, reproduction is central to these critiques” (1989:143). Cast “as a class of life0cycle events,” reproduction forced women to encounter “the inequalities of a gendered social world” (Ginsburg 1989:143-4). In response, they became concerned not only about “the place of procreation in women’s lives,” but with the ethics and relationships society accepted and promoted that is, they wanted to influence the way society would structure relationships and shape lives in the future. Through their concern for gender relations and power, Ginsburg situated her informants in our nation’s long history of female activism. This concern with “the reproduction of the culture as a whole” (Ginsburg 1989:144) also was evident among Luker’s informants and my own, and may be present to some degree among activists in general, regardless f the issues they address.
    • p.19-20
  • Ginsburg insists that, in the narratives she collected, “every plot rests on some sense of tension between domesticity and the workplace” (1989:144). Like Luker, Ginsburg argues that women’s responsibility “in relation to nurturance is the salient issue and contradiction for women on both sides of the debate.” (1989:144). From the pro-life perspective, nurturance is “a source of female moral authority,” and it is accepted as a desirable source of identity. From the pro-choice perspective, nurturance is rejected as “a cultural frame that puts women at a disadvantage socially, economically, and politically,” confining them “to the culturally and materially devalued tasks of caring for dependent people” (Ginsburg 1989:145). Like Luker, Ginsburg argues that the narratives of activists on both sides of the debate centered on “these two mappings of the ‘proper’ place of reproduction and nurturance in the female life course,” concluding that these perspectives “mark and claim the terrain of the abortion conflict” (1989:145).
    The narratives of the direct activists in this study did not suggest so coherent an ideological basis for their activism. While such broad, political issues characterized direct activists’ opinions on abortion, they only partially motivated their activism. Political issues were overshadowed in their narratives by diverse idiosyncratic motives to participate in activism. Such motives were not described in either Ginsburg’s or Luker’s analyses.
    • pp.20-21
  • Ginsburg does not attempt to account for all abortion activism on the basis of her study, which she describes as a “fine grained long-term research” project done in a small, local, social context (1989:140).. She notes that such studies can “suggest or reveal new understanding but not necessarily prove broad generalizations” (1989:140), a caveat that pertains to this study, as well. However, both Luker’s and Ginsburg’s findings have been broadly generalized by subsequent authors and extended, at time, to characterize direct activists. The notion that demographics equal-psychology has given rise to particularly misguided presumptions (Faludi 1991; Tribe 1990). I hope to provide an empirically based description of direct activists to expand this perhaps overconfidently accepted model of pro-life motivation.
    • p.21
  • Direct activists differed from pro-lifers in general and conventional pro-life activists, as well, and they differed in important areas. Perhaps the most notable difference is that both Luker’s and Ginsburg’s samples were so overwhelmingly female that both authors based their analyses of pro-lifer’s worldviews on women’s narratives alone, while 40% of the St. Louis sample was male. Although men were a minority among direct activists, they were not tangential to this activism. My sample included a higher percentage of males than Gransberg’s (1981) sample of conventional pro-life activists in Missouri (which, in turn, included a higher percentage of males than the pro-choice group he used as a basis of comparison). Also of particular interest was the higher rate of employment among direct activists, as compared to Luker’s (1984) conventional activists, as compared to Luker’s (1984) conventional activists. Luker found 63%of the pro-life activists she interviewed to be homemakers, and the remainder to be almost uniformly employed in poorly paying jobs. In contrast, only 25% of female direct activists (and 15% of all direct activists_ were homemakers. Perhaps as a consequence of these two factors, direct activists’ income was more evenly distributed between low, middle, and high ranges than that of Luker’s pro-life sample. Religious affiliation differed dramatically. Although most pro-lifers in both samples professed a religious faith, 80% of Luker’s pro-lifers were Catholic, while 29% of the St. Louis sample were Catholic. (the proportion of Catholics was higher in the first group to practice direct action in St. Louis than in the groups that followed over time.)
    Higher rates of male involvement, female employment, and greater religious and income diversity may relate as much to generalizable demographic distinctions between conventional and direct activists, as to differences in the timing and sociogeographic settings of these studies.
    • pp.21-22

“The making of pro-life activists: how social movement mobilization works” (2008)


Munson, Ziad W. (2008). “The making of pro-life activists: how social movement mobilization works”. University of Chicago Press.

  • In 1973, the pro-life movement was very small, confined mostly to an elite group of lawyers, politicians, and physicians. Activists were almost exclusively Catholic. Before the Roe v Wade decision, the only coordinated national effort to oppose abortion came from the Catholic Church (though the Family Life Bureau of the National Council of Catholic Bishop). The few local organizations that had emerged by this time had an almost entirely Catholic membership and were supported nationally by the Catholic Family Life Bureau. In describing the reaction of abortion opponent to the Supreme Court decision, the ‘’New York Times’’ could not cite a single pro-life organization or national spokesman for the movement; it referred only to the shock of Catholic cardinals (Van Gelder1973). The Catholic Church was so important at this time in fact that Connie Paige (1983, 51) declared, “The Roman Catholic Church created the right-to-life movement. Without the church, the movement would not exist as such today.”
    Large-scale mobilization of opposition to abortion began a immediately after the Supreme Court handed down its ‘’Roe v. Wade’’ and Doe v. Bolton’’ decisions. The various fledgling organizations that existed in some states to oppose abortion liberalization, nurtured and funded by the Catholic Church began immediately to forge a national movement. Five months after the Supreme Court decisions, pro-life activists from around the country met in Detroit to organize and plan a response. The result was the formation of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), an organization that inherited much of the original movement infrastructure and personnel of the Family Life Bureau of the National Council of Catholic Bishops but was now explicitly and consciously separate from the Catholic Church. Organizers felt that the movement had to expand beyond the hierarchy of the Church if it was to generate broad public support and political power. In order to underscore the separation of the movement from the Catholic hierarchy, the NRLC chose a Methodist-Marjory Mecklenburg-as its first leader.
    • p.85
  • [T]he pro-life movement consciously chose to distance itself from its Catholic roots because those already active in 1973 believed (probably correctly) than en entirely Catholic movement would not be able to generate widespread support throughout the country. Linda, a fifty-three-year-old activist in the Twin Cities, recalls that Mecklenburg’s Methodist background was important to her when she was first getting involved during this period, even though she herself had been raised Catholic. “It made a big difference to me, because I was seeing the Catholic Church as being kind of stodgy,” she explains. “I didn’t want to be associated with anything that was-in those days-stodgy. The Methodists just seemed so much more broad-minded to me.” The formal separation from the Church helped the NRLC gain the confidence of activists such as Linda, but it nonetheless remained a largely Catholic organization. In a 1980 study of NRLC membership, for example, Granberg found that 70 percent of the members were Catholic (Granberg 1981).
    • pp.85-86
  • The organizational infrastructure of the nascent pro-life movement exploded after 1973. The NRLC founded independent state affiliates in every state in the country within eighteen months. Oklahomans for Life, Massachusetts Citizen for Life, and South Carolina Citizens for Life were all founded within a year of the creation or the NRLC. MCCL, the Minnesota pro-life organization, worked with the newly minted NRL to help found offices in other states. Other organizations not affiliated with the NRLC were also created. In the Twin cities, Human life Alliance, New Life family Services, and Total Life care Centers are all contemporary pro-life organizations originally founded in the wake of Roe v. Wade. At the national level, groups such as the American Citizens Concerned for Life and March for Life were founded in 1973 or early 1974 (Encyclopedia of Associations 1978).
    The first grassroots activists who came into the movement through these new organizations regarded the issue as one that would be quickly settled. “In those days, we didn’t consider ourselves a movement,” explains Linda. “We thought we were going to go home in a year.” Activists such as Linda saw the Supreme Court decisions as an aberration-a mistake that would be quickly corrected once enough people knew about it. Early activists were surprised when this didn’t happen. Carol, a fifty-to-year-old in Charleston, explains: “I think all of us wondered where the outrage was. Because I think that we thought that it would be overturned immediately. And when it didn’t happen, we were stunned, you know.”
    • p.86
  • The partisan valence of the abortion issue had not yet developed in these early years of the pro-life movement. Today pro-life political views are strongly tied to the Republican Party, while pro-choice views are tied to the Democrats. This has not always been true. The republicans first adopted a pro-life position in their national party platform in 1980. At the same time, longtime Democrat Jesse Jackson spoke out consistently against abortion rights throughout the late 1970sand early 1980s. In a 1977 article written for the NRLC newsletter, Jackson explained that “human beings cannot give or create life by themselves, it really is a gift from God. Therefore, one does not have the right to take away (through abortion) that which he does not have the ability to give.” Prominent pro-life leaders have also been committed Democrats. Jackie Schweitz, who led MCCL for eighteen years until 2001, was active in the Democratic Party through the 1980s. Rank-and-file members, too, have not always felt naturally drawn to the Republicans. Max, a forty-nine-year-old in Boston says that “it actually took me a little while to switch parties, but I was just turned off by the Democrats and their position on abortion.” Although the political lines are clear today, the conflict over abortion has not always aligned with the divisions between the major parties.
    • pp.86-87
  • Although the contours of the conflict looked different in the first fifteen years of the movement, the political and legal story of abortion since 1973 has shown a consistent pattern of slow but steady erosion to the rights granted to women by the landmark Supreme Court decisions. At the same time, the basic finding of those decisions-that women have a legal right to abortion, at least under some circumstances-has been consistently and repeatedly confirmed. State legislatures, the U.S. Congress, and the courts were the primary venues in the battle over abortion beginning in 1973. Both the legislative and judicial systems have faced an avalanche of abortion-related bills and cases since that time. Legislatures in all fifty states review hundreds of new pieces of legislation annually that affect abortion services.
    The pro-life movement secured its first major victory in 1976 with congressional passage of the Hyde Amendment. This rider to spending legislation prohibits Medicaid coverage of abortions for low-income women. Congress has renewed it in various forms every year since 1976. There have also been periodic efforts in Congress to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion, though no proposal has ever passed and these efforts have largely been abandoned since the mid-1980s.
    • p.87
  • The Supreme Court has also weighed in on the abortion issue literally dozens of times since its landmark 1973 rulings. Most of these rulings involve the constitutionality of various state efforts to regulate or restrict abortion services. A number of these cases stand out as particularly important in defining the direction of the abortion debate. In 1980, the Court upheld Congress’s right to restrict federal funding for abortion, declaring the Hyde Amendment constitutional in “Harris v. McRae”. In 1989, the Court ruled in “Webster v. Reproductive Health Services” that states could bar public employees from performing abortions as well as prohibit abortion in state-owned hospitals and other facilities.
    In 1992, the Court declared (in Planned Parenthood v. Casey) that states could ban abortion anytime after fetal viability as well as impose requirements for abortions such as counseling, parental notification, and twenty-four-hour waiting periods. Requirements that constitute an “undue burden,” such as mandating the notification of a husband, were ruled unconstitutional. “Casey” is considered a landmark case, however less for the new restrictions it allowed states to impose on legalized abortion than for the fact it explicitly reaffirmed the Supreme Court’s commitment to the “Roe v. Wade” decision and women’s legal right-at least under many circumstances-to choose to terminate a pregnancy.
    • pp.87-88
  • The 1990s also witnessed a sharp rise in the amount of violence associated with the pro-life movement. Between 1991 and 1998, there were twenty-three murders or attempted murders of physicians who perform abortions or staff members at clinics that provide abortion services. At the same time, the incidence of bombings, vandalism, death threats, acid attacks, and other forms of violence increased dramatically. For example, in the thirteen-year period between 1977 and 1989, there were 70 reported death threats against abortion providers; in just the following six years, 1990 to 1995, there were 196 (National Abortion Federation 2005).
    Such violence accompanied a rise in the amount of street protest done in the name of the pro-life movement. Pro-life protests and blockades of clinic occurred regularly throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s with activists comparing themselves to nineteenth-century abolitionists and more recent civil rights workers. Such events, however, were sporadic and localized. They were eventually organized into a nationally coordinated strategy, however, in the fall of 1986 under the leadership of New York native Randall Terry. Terry founded Operation Rescue in 1987 for the purpose of using civil disobedience to shut down abortion clinics nationwide. Although such tactics had been employed before, they increased in frequency, size, and media coverage beginning with the establishment of Operation Rescue (Lawler 1992). Terry staged his first clinic blockage in 1987 in Cherry Hill, New Jersey (Jacoby 1998). Since that time, more than thirty-three thousand pro-life activists have been arrested for participating in direct-action activities against abortion providers.
    • pp.88-89
  • The rise of Operation Rescue also heralded a change in the composition of the pro-life movement. Street protest generated a younger and more male activist pool. Several scholars and commentators have also noted that the rise in the organization also marked the entry of evangelical Protestants into the movement in large numbers (Connors 1989; Ginsburg 1998; Gorney 1998; Maxwell 2002). The national Operation Rescue once had a staff of twenty-three and almost a million dollars in annual donations (Shepard 1991). It collapsed, however, in the face of disintegrating leadership, lawsuits, and harsh jail terms for rescue activity. Its name, organizational structure, and leadership have changed several times since 1991, and today it is no longer a nationwide group. What remains are a variety of different local and regional organizations that existed before Operation Rescue’s rise to prominence. Protest continues in front of abortion clinics, but it occurs on a much smaller scale and is coordinated by these more local groups.
    • p.89
  • Abortion today is a public, moral issue. The pro-life movement, in turn, is well entrenched in the United States, embedded in everything from politics to the media, academia, law, and civil society. Most important, a vast array of pro-life movement organizations exist at the local, state, regional, and national levels. Such groups serve as abeyance structures (Taylor 1989), allowing the movement to survive through setbacks and periods of low activity. They also play a key role in the mobilization of activists, as the vast literature on resource mobilization has documented and analyzed (McAdam 1988; Zald 1992; Caniglia and Carmin 2005). Movement organizations provide money, leadership, ideological continuity, bureaucratic capacity, institutional ties, and a whole range of other resources that play a role in mobilizing activists.
    • pp.90-91
  • In 1973, many individuals getting involved in pro-life activism had to start from scratch. There were few established organizations that focused on grassroots mobilization around the abortion issue, and most people did not have ready access to information on strategies and pro-life ideas. Today, a potential pro-life activist faces a much different landscape. Those who become involved need not found and organize an entirely new group. Most activists get involved through an existing organization, participating in that group’s actions and adopting that group’s ideas about the issue. The NRLC is the largest national pro-life group. It has an annual budget of nearly $14 million and has several hundred thousand individual members. Other large national organizations that focus exclusively on the abortion issue include the American Life League, Human Life International, and Life Dynamics. All three of these groups have thousands of members and annual budgets in excess of $1 million.
    • pp.91-92
  • Although the national organizations are an important part of the pro-life movement, local groups are far more consequential for the mobilization process of individual activists. These groups define the paths to activism available to potential new activists and organize the range of ideological beliefs and identities possible within the movement. This is not to say however, that local groups are disconnected from state or national organizations; many of the most successful are local affiliates of national groups.
    • pp.92-93
  • [T]here is considerable variation in the number and type of organizations across the different cities. The Twin Cities area, which played a key role in the early mobilization of the movement nationally, currently has thirteen organizations with a range of foci, budgets, and members. These groups continue to be national movement leaders in terms of funding and developing new pro-life materials and campaigns. Charleston, by contrast, has only five local organizations, three of which are affiliated with larger national groups. Based on the model of mobilization I have outlined in previous chapters, I suspect these differences affect the likelihood of individuals being mobilized into the movement. Compared to the twin Cities, for example, Charleston has fewer organization with which potential activists might stumble into contact and thus a lower likelihood of people’s becoming mobilized.
    These groups are also involved in much different strategies to end abortion in the United States. Some, such as the NRLCC affiliates (for example, Oklahomans for Life), focus on the political and legal fronts. Many more activists, however are involved in organizations that pursue different strategies-including efforts to convince women to carry their pregnancies to term; direct protest (and sometimes harassment and violence) outside of facilities that perform abortions; and efforts to change public opinion regarding abortion through public relations campaigns and outreach efforts in schools, churches, and other institutions. These differences have an impact on the development of activists’ pro-life beliefs, a subject I examine in some detail in the next chapter.
    Today’s pro-life activists are thus part of a long-standing, mature social movement. A few were active even before the 1973 Supreme Court decisions, and some have been involved since the movement exploded in the wake of those decisions. The majority of activists today, however, came to the movement years (and, increasingly, decades) after 1973, when many pro-life organizations were already established, the ideological focus of the movement was set, and the structure of the movement was well defined.
    • p.94

"Fetal Images: The Power of Visual Culture in the Politics of Reproduction" (1987)


Petchesky, Rosalind Pollack (1987). "Fetal Images: The Power of Visual Culture in the Politics of Reproduction". Feminist Studies. 13 (2): 263–292. doi:10.2307/3177802. JSTOR 3177802. S2CID 41193716.

  • Before dissecting its ideological message, I should perhaps describe The Silent Scream for readers who somehow missed it. The film's actual genesis seems to have been an article in the New England journal of Medicine by a noted bioethicist and a physician, claiming that early fetal ultrasound tests resulted in "maternal bonding" and possibly "fewer abortions. "According to the authors, both affiliated with the National Institutes of Health, upon viewing an ultrasound image of the fetus, "parents[that is, pregnant women] probably will experience a shock of recognition that the fetus belongs to them" and will more likely resolve "ambivalent" pregnancies "in favor of the fetus. "Such "parental recognition of the fetal form," they wrote, "is a fundamental element in the later parent-child bond. "Although based on two isolated cases, without controls or scientific experimentation, these assertions stimulated the imagination of Dr. Bernard Nathanson and the National Right-to-Life Committee. The resulting video production was intended to reinforce the visual "bonding" theory at the level of the clinic by bringing the live fetal image into everyone's living room. Distributed not only to television networks but also to schools, churches, state and federal legislators, and anyone (including the opposition) who wants to rent it for fifteen dollars, the video cassette provides a mass commodity form for the "prolife" message.
    • p.265
  • The Silent Scream purports to show a medical event, a real-time ultrasound imaging of a twelve-week-old fetus being aborted. What we see in fact is an image of an image of an image; or, rather, we see three concentric frames: our television or VCR screen, which in turn frames the video screen of the filming studio, which in turn frames a shadowy, black-and-white, pulsating blob: the (alleged) fetus. Throughout, our response to this set of images is directed by the figure of Dr. Nathanson-sober, bespectacled, leaning professorially against the desk-who functions as both medical expert and narrator to the drama. (Nathanson is in "real life" a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist, ex-abortionist, and well-known anti abortion crusader.) In fact, as the film unfolds, we quickly realize that there are two texts being presented here simultaneously-a medical text, largely visual, and a moral text, largely verbal and auditory. Our medical narrator appears on the screen and announces that what we are about to see comes to us courtesy of the "dazzling" new "science of fetology" which "exploded in the medical community" and now enables us to witness an abortion- "from the victim's vantage point." At the same time we hear strains of organ music in the background, ominous, the kind we associate with impending doom. As Nathanson guides his pointer along the video screen, "explaining" the otherwise inscrutable movements of the image, the disjunction between the two texts becomes increasingly jarring. We see a recognizable apparatus of advanced medical technology, displaying a filmic image of vibrating light and shaded areas, interspersed with occasional scenes of an abortion clinic operating table (the only view of the pregnant woman we get). This action is moderated by someone who "looks like" the paternal-medical authority figure of the proverbial aspirin commercial. He occasionally interrupts the filmed events to show us clinical models of embryos and fetuses at various stages of development. Meanwhile, however, what we hear is more like a medieval morality play, spoken in standard antiabortion rhetoric. The form on the screen, we are told, is "the living unborn child," "another human being indistinguishable from any of us." The suction cannula is "moving violently" toward "the child"; it is the "lethal weapon" that will "dismember, crush, destroy," "tear the child apart, "until only "shards" are left. The fetus "does sense aggression in its sanctuary," attempts to "escape"(indicating more rapid movements on the screen), and finally "rears back its head in "a silent scream"-all to a feverish pitch of musical accompaniment. In case we question the nearly total absence of a pregnant woman or of clinic personnel in this scenario, Nathanson also "informs" us that the woman who had this abortion was a "feminist," who, like the young doctor who performed it, has vowed "never again"; that women who get abortions are themselves exploited "victims" and "castrated"; that many abortion clinics are "run by the mobs." It is the verbal rhetoric, not of science, but of "Miami Vice”.
    • pp.266-267
  • [T]he claim by antiabortion polemicists that the fetus is becoming "viable" at an earlier and earlier point seems to reinforce the notion that its treatment is a matter between a fetus and its doctor. In reality, most authorities agree that twenty-four weeks is the youngest a fetus is likely to survive outside the womb in the foreseeable future; meanwhile, over 90 percent of pregnant women who get abortions do so in the first trimester, fewer than 1 percent do so past the twentieth week. Despite these facts, the images of younger and younger, and tinier and tinier, fetuses being "saved," the point of viability being "pushed back" indefinitely, and untold aborted fetuses being "born alive" have captured recent abortion discourse in the courts, the headlines, and television drama. Such images blur the boundary between fetus and baby; they reinforce the idea that the fetus's identity as separate and autonomous from the mother (the "living, separate child") exists from the start. Obstetrical technologies of visualization and electronic/surgical intervention thus disrupt the very definition, as traditionally understood, of "inside" and "outside" a woman's body, of pregnancy as an "interior" experience. As Donna Haraway remarks, pregnancy becomes integrated into a "high-tech view of the body as a biotic component or cybernetic communications system"; thus, "who controls the interpretation of bodily boundaries in medical hermeneutics [becomes] a major feminist issue." Interpreting boundaries, however, is a way to contest them, not to record their fixity in the natural world. Like penetrating Cuban territory with reconnaissance satellites and Radio Marti, treating a fetus as if it were outside a woman's body, because it can be viewed, is a political act.
    • p.272
  • When legions of right-wing women in the antiabortion movement brandish pictures of gory dead or dreamlike space-floating fetuses outside clinics or in demonstrations, they are participating in a visual pageant that directly degrades women- and thus themselves. Wafting these fetus-pictures as icons, literal fetishes, they both propagate and celebrate the image of the fetus as autonomous space-hero and the pregnant woman as "empty space." Their visual statements are straight forward representations of the antifeminist ideas they (and their male cohorts) support. Such right-wing women promote the public, political character of the fetal image as a symbol that condenses a complicated set of conservative values-about sex, motherhood, teenage girls, fatherhood, the family. In this instance, perhaps it makes sense to say they participate "vicariously" in a "phallic" way of looking and thus become the "complacent facilitators for the working out of man's fantasies."
    • p.281
  • At one end of the spectrum, the "prolife" women Kristin Luker interviewed strongly identified "the fetus" with their own recent or frequent pregnancies; it became "my little guy." Their circumstances as "devout, traditional women who valued motherhood highly "were those of married women with children, mostly unemployed outside the home, and remarkably isolated from any social or community activities. That "little guy" was indeed their primary source of gratification and self-esteem. Moreover-and this fact links them with many women whose abortion politics and life-styles lie at the opposite end of the spectrum- a disproportionate number of them seem to have undergone a history of pregnancy or child loss.
    • pp.281-282

"Controversy in the Activist Movement" (August 2000)


Pro-Life Action News, "Controversy in the Activist Movement", August 2000 Archived June 18, 2007, at the Wayback Machine August 2002 ACTION NEWS | VOL. XXI No. 2

  • The Pro-Life Action League has promoted sidewalk counseling using what we have dubbed "The Chicago Method" for at least twenty years. In 2000 we produced the video "No Greater Joy" to teach this method to those who are willing to go to abortion clinics and try to save babies and their mothers. The Chicago Method is predicated on the fact that by the time women arrive at an abortion clinic they have already emotionally aborted the baby. They are mainly concerned about getting themselves out of a difficult predicament.
    We research the records of the abortion clinics to discover the malpractice lawsuits brought against the clinics and their staff, including the abortionists. This information is summarized and distributed to clients as they approach the clinic. Often women who refuse to consider the baby at this point in their decision will think twice about subjecting themselves to harm inside the clinic. This approach to sidewalk counseling, coupled with the prayer element promoted by Msgr. Philip Reilly, founder of Helpers of God's Precious Infants, is quite successful in saving the lives of unborn babies and rescuing their mothers from a life time of regret.
  • Some pro-lifers, however, still use a more aggressive tactic, creating an atmosphere of chaos outside the abortion facility. Protesters shout at women to get their attention. They greet abortion-bound women with large graphic posters of aborted babies, hoping to shock them into a change of heart. The latest tactic to grab the attention of the press is taking pictures of women and their companions as they arrive at the abortion clinic, then posting the photographs on a website, in the hopes that the fear of friends and family finding out about the abortion will shame women into changing their minds.
    The Wall Street Journal ran a lengthy story on this latest photo technique on May 28. The website, abortioncams.com, is operated by Neal Horsley who first surfaced in the media when he posted the names and address of abortionists on a website. The website became a controversial part of a FACE lawsuit in Portland, OR even though Horsley himself was not a defendant in the case.
    Horsley and the activists who supply him with photos of the women at the abortion clinics believe this tactic is a deterrent to abortion. They also believe that women who choose abortion deserve to suffer whatever consequence comes from the abortion and that they should be treated no differently from serial killers. Their own explanation for the photo tactic, as it appears on their website, states, "Those homicidal mothers must be held up for the world to see."
  • We recently had a full day of email communication with a woman who had an abortion at one of the clinics where a group of pro-lifers shouted at the women and accused them of sin. It did not change her mind and it did not cause her to feel she could turn to a pro-lifer for help. She felt nothing but condemnation from the group who claimed to be Christian and she transferred their behavior to the entire pro-life movement and the broader Christian community.
    It is tempting to think that because our cause is just, any tactic that will save a baby's life is justified. It is a tougher challenge to remain true to our mission as Christians, to see each pregnant woman and the people in her life from the perspective of Jesus Christ. "What Would Jesus Do," the currently popular slogan, is a question we should routinely ask ourselves. We need to reflect the loving Father and compassionate Son if we are going to change the culture. It wouldn't even be necessary to change the laws on abortion if we were able to change hearts and minds. Abortion would become unthinkable.

“Violence at US Abortion Clinics”


Religious Tolerance. “Violence at US Abortion Clinics”

  • Frequent violent protests against abortion clinics, in the form of arson, firebombing, and vandalism, started in the early 1970's in the U.S. after the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Roe v. Wade theoretically gave abortion access to all women -- at least during their first trimester.
    Then, as now, most of the violence appears to be mainly criminal activities by individual religiously-motivated individuals acting alone. However, cases in the 1990s involving the assassination and attempted murder of abortion providers in both the U.S. and Canada have shown that some perpetrators appear to have been sheltered by a network of sympathizers. That shows a degree of organization and conspiracy.
  • Pro-life movement: They typically believe that human life -- in the form of an ovum and spermatozoon -- becomes a human person during the process of conception. They are motivated by a strong desire to reduce the number of abortions -- typically by restricting abortion access.
  • Anti-abortion movement: Individuals in this movement also hold pro-life beliefs. However, they go one step further and feel that acts of violence against abortion clinics are justifiable in order to lower the number of abortions.
  • One source reported in late 1996, that there has been "over $13 million in damage caused by violent anti-abortion groups since 1982 in over 150 arson attacks, bombings, and shootings."
  • The "Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 1994", the FACE law, was signed into law in 1994. First-time offenders can receive fines of $100,000 and jail sentences of up to one year. In 1994-JUL, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that federal marshals will provide protection to any abortion clinic requesting it. These actions seem to have had a sudden dampening effect on the number of blockades and the number of arrests at blockades. Protestors seem to have changed tactics, and engaged in hate letters, harassing phone calls, bomb threats, etc. There has been a fairly steady rise in the number of incidents of picketing.
    The RICO law, which was originally aimed at combating organized crime, has been used against organizers of abortion clinic blockades in the mid 1990's. More recently, RICO has been used against the Pro-Life Rescue League and Operation Rescue.
  • Between 1998 and 2000, more than 80 letters which threatened Anthrax contamination were sent to U.S. clinics in 16 states. Anthrax is a potentially fatal bacteria if its spores are inhaled into the lungs. All of the letters turned out to be hoaxes.
    Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington on 2001-SEP-11, similar Anthrax letters started appearing in political offices and news media in New York, Washington, and other cities. Some letters actually contained the deadly bacteria. In late October, abortion clinics in 13 states throughout the U.S. received about 150 letters marked "Time sensitive security information enclosed" with return addresses from law enforcement groups. They were mailed from five states. Inside was a powder and a death-threat letter allegedly signed by the "Army of God." That group allegedly advocates violence against abortion providers. Heather Herndon, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Southeastern Pennsylvania said: "I absolutely believe it's the anti-choice extremists who are taking advantage of our national crisis." As of OCT-17, four letters had been given preliminary field tests and had been found to be hoaxes.
  • It is to be noted that the essentially all pro-life groups are opposed to violence. Most anti-abortion groups that advocate violence tend to be small, often one-person organizations. Perpetrators of violent crimes often work independently. The U.S. Justice Department has investigated attacks on clinics and has determined that no conspiracy is involved.
    The American Life League has written a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence" which was endorsed by 31 other pro-life groups by 1999-MAR-13. 6 Neither Rescue League nor Operation Rescue had signed the proclamation.
  • A report prepared by the Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) and quoted in a 2003 California Senate report showed that abortion clinics in that state were torched and bombed more than in any other state: 30 incidences out of 224 crimes nationwide. Most of the clinics in the state who responded reported threats, vandalism, assaults, blockades and other crimes from 1995 to 2000. 30% reported that their personnel was "stalked, harassed, threatened and otherwise targeted at their homes or in other places away from clinics and medical offices." Other states with large numbers of attacks are: Florida with 19, Texas with 14, New York with nine.

"The Day After Roe" (June 2006)


Rosen, Jeffrey (June 2006). "The Day After Roe". The Atlantic.

  • In its survey of registered South Dakota voters, taken a week after the abortion ban passed, 57 percent said they would vote to repeal the ban, and 33 percent said they would vote to uphold it. According to Jim Robinson, who conducted the poll for Focus South Dakota, these results are entirely consistent with the responses of South Dakota voters over the past two decades. “The number of voters who say abortion shouldn’t be legal under any circumstances has stayed pretty much the same for years, at about 15 percent,” Robinson told me. “You can add another 20 percent who think there should only be an exception for the life of the mother. We’ve known for some time that this sort of ban would be opposed in the state two to one, which is pretty much the same as the national numbers. But because one party is in control here, you have an extreme minority who came to dominate the legislature and drank their own Kool-Aid.”
    Since the South Dakota ban passed, the approval rating of the governor, Mike Rounds, has dropped by 12 percentage points, and several state legislators have announced their intention to switch parties from Republican to Democrat. Legislators who voted for the ban, including a few Democrats, already face primary challenges from abortion moderates. Robert Burns, a political-science professor at South Dakota State University, thinks the backlash against the South Dakota law could precipitate a political realignment in the state, helping Democrats in state senate elections as well as influencing the gubernatorial and congressional elections. Burns suggests that Republican pro-choice voters, who had been willing to support pro-life legislators as long as the disagreement seemed symbolic, may desert the party. And if South Dakota–style bans on abortion were imposed in other states, the evidence is that they would be equally unpopular. Polls taken in March by organizations ranging from Pew to Fox News produced similar findings: by about a 59 to 36 percent margin, voters oppose a South Dakota–style ban in their own state. And 62 percent in the Fox News poll said that they supported the right to choose if the pregnancy “risks the mother’s mental health.”
  • The day after Roe, a handful of states would try not only to revive old abortion bans but also to pass new ones. “The real battles will occur in the red states, and they will be knock-down, drag-out battles,” says the Republican consultant Whit Ayres. In the wake of the South Dakota law, a number of state legislatures (including those in Alabama, Indiana, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and West Virginia) are now considering extreme bills that would make it a crime for doctors to perform abortions unless the life of the mother is threatened, with no other exceptions. The Mississippi ban has already passed the state house of representatives, which added exceptions for rape and incest, and Governor Haley Barbour has pledged to sign it if it passes the state senate. And yet, the day after Roe, even pro-life legislators would have to think twice about passing abortion bans without the health exceptions that a majority of the public clearly favors.
  • In short, the overturning of Roe would put pro-life legislators in an agonizing position: many are inalterably opposed to including an exception for threats to women’s health; they argue that these exceptions have been broadly interpreted by doctors and courts in the past to include psychological as well as physical health, in effect subverting the bans and making abortions available throughout pregnancy. “People in the pro-life movement are opposed to health exceptions in any form,” the pro-life scholar Paul Linton told me. “On the other hand, people will have to consider whether a narrow physical health exception might be a political necessity.” If any of these states now pondering extreme bills did, in fact, pass broad bans without a health exception, they should expect voter insurrections similar to the one now taking shape in South Dakota. By contrast, if health exceptions were included, although abortions might be formally restricted in some states from the beginning of pregnancy—a significant change in the law—elective abortions might, in practice, remain widely available for those who were willing to negotiate the procedural hurdles involved in proving a threat to their mental or physical health.
  • Given the tepid national support for a near or total ban, even among Republicans (only a narrow majority of whom believe that abortion should be illegal in most or all cases), the party leadership understands that an extreme federal ban has the potential to split the Republican coalition at the seams. “Many moderates within the Republican Party, and even some conservatives, bought into the pro-life position when there was no threat Roe would actually be overturned,” says Marshall Wittmann of the Democratic Leadership Council. “I think there are a lot of Republican moderate women and men—especially exurban and suburban women—who would be very queasy about this issue. GOP leaders would fear that they couldn’t hold the coalition together if abortion rights were truly threatened.”
  • Pro-life voters are currently better mobilized than their pro-choice opponents; surveys have shown that pro-life voters rank a candidate’s position on abortion among their top three concerns, as opposed to pro-choice voters, who rank it substantially lower. But the day after Roe, those priorities would undoubtedly change. Suburban Republican women, a number of whom are fiscally conservative and socially liberal, might switch parties in many states, giving Democrats the margin of victory they need to win the Senate in a country virtually at parity.

"The New Normal on Abortion: Americans More "Pro-Life" (May 14, 2010)


Saad, Lydia (May 14, 2010). "The New Normal on Abortion: Americans More "Pro-Life". Gallup. Retrieved August 8, 2013.

  • PRINCETON, NJ -- The conservative shift in Americans' views on abortion that Gallup first recorded a year ago has carried over into 2010. Slightly more Americans call themselves "pro-life" than "pro-choice," 47% vs. 45%, according to a May 3-6 Gallup poll. This is nearly identical to the 47% to 46% division found last July following a more strongly pro-life advantage of 51% to 42% last May.
    While the two-percentage-point gap in current abortion views is not significant, it represents the third consecutive time Gallup has found more Americans taking the pro-life than pro-choice position on this measure since May 2009, suggesting a real change in public opinion. By contrast, in nearly all readings on this question since 1995, and each survey from 2003 to 2008, more Americans called themselves pro-choice than pro-life.
  • According to two-year averages of these results since 2001, Republicans have become more likely to call themselves pro-life since polling conducted in 2003/2004, as have Republican-leaning independents since 2005/2006. Independents who lean to neither party also became more likely to call themselves "pro-life" between 2003/2004 and 2005/2006, but have since held steady.
    Democrats' self-identification with the pro-life position has moved in the other direction, declining from 37% in 2003/2004 to 31% in 2009/2010. Among independents who lean Democratic, there has been no movement in either direction.
  • All age groups have become more attached to the pro-life label since 2005, with particularly large increases among young adults and those aged 50 to 64 years in the latest period between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010.
    Both genders have also become more likely to identify as pro-life, with the increase among women coming mainly since 2008, whereas the increase in men started after 2006.
  • Half of Americans currently say abortion is morally wrong -- in line with most of Gallup's readings on this question since 2001, although higher than the initial 45% recorded in 2001 and a one-time 44% reading in 2006.
  • Barring evidence that Americans are growing more wary about the morality of abortion per se, the trends by party identification suggest that increased political polarization may be a factor in Republicans' preference for the "pro-life" label, particularly since Barack Obama took office. Whatever the cause, the effect is that the pro-life label has become increasingly dominant among Republicans and to a lesser degree among independents, while the pro-choice label has become more dominant among Democrats.

"Secular ProLife"


"Secular ProLife".

  • Part 1: The human zygote, embryo, and fetus are all human organisms.
    “Life begins at fertilization” is a shorthand way to say that the zygote is the first developmental stage of a human being’s life cycle. This is not a religious premise; it is a biological fact, attested to in countless biology and embryology texts and affirmed by the majority of biologists worldwide.
  • Part 2: All human organisms are morally relevant. <br. Many pro-choice people acknowledge that, biologically, life begins at conception but deny zygotes, embryos, and fetuses are “people,” i.e. morally relevant humans deserving of human rights. They offer a variety of ideas about what additional criteria are necessary. Common suggestions include that the child must have a heartbeat, have brain waves, be viable, or be “conscious”/self-aware.
    We find these criteria for “personhood” arbitrary. Many of the proposed criteria would, if applied consistently, deny personhood to already born groups of humans we universally recognize as morally relevant and worthy of protection, such as newborns, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable groups. We believe consistency demands that we protect all humans as morally relevant and members of our species.
  • Part 3: It’s generally immoral to kill humans.
    In our experience, people may have different ideas about why it’s generally immoral to kill humans, but few if any people sincerely debate whether it’s generally immoral to kill humans. As a matter of policy, we at Secular Pro-Life do not take a stance on the metaphysical questions regarding where morality comes from or why we should care about one another. We simply ask that all people who believe, as a baseline premise, that it’s wrong to kill each other apply that stance consistently and recognize preborn children as part of the human family. For more details, read The Imago Dei, or “Why should secularists care about human life?”
  • Part 4: Bodily rights aren’t enough to justify elective abortion.
    Some pro-choice people argue that it doesn’t matter whether the fetus is morally valuable “person,” because no person can use another’s body against her will. We believe this bodily rights argument is one of the strongest pro-choice arguments, and we encourage all people interested in the abortion debate to lean into this conversation. Still, we find that the bodily rights argument is not enough to justify elective abortion. Examples involving organ donation, car crashes, and other illustrations of bodily rights are disanalogous to pregnancy and abortion in one or more major ways.

"Keeler exhorts March for Life crowd" (January 24, 1995)


Frank Somerville; Richard O'Mara "Keeler exhorts March for Life crowd". The Baltimore Sun, (January 24, 1995).

  • Baltimore's cardinal archbishop brought 3,000 whistling, cheering teen-agers to their feet yesterday when he said their anti-abortion activism represents the majority view in the United States and ultimately "will prevail."
    At a Roman Catholic Mass that was part of a youth rally in Constitution Hall, Cardinal William H. Keeler also condemned the recent shootings at abortion clinics.
    "These random acts have been deplored and must continue to be deplored by all right-thinking people everywhere," he said, generating a burst of applause. "As people of faith committed to the cause of life and opposed to violence, we raise our voice against such actions, and pray for the families and friends of those who have died."
  • The violence that has erupted within the anti-abortion movement was on the minds of many involved in yesterday's March for Life. This was the movement's 22nd annual march held to express opposition to the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman's right to abortion.
    "The murder of an abortionist is a sin," said Bruce Stahl, who came with a delegation from the Stratford Orthodox Presbyterian Church in New Jersey.
    Paul Conklin of Montgomery County said that he felt the violence at abortion clinics "is not the way to get things done in America. Action happens at the voting booth, not with violence."
    "We're about life, not about killing people," added Betsy Cragon of Ashtabula, Ohio, as she stood with other marchers in front of the Supreme Court.
    The violence also was condemned in speeches from the platform. "You cannot fight evil with evil," said California Republican Rep. Robert K. Dornan.
  • The trappings of yesterday's assembly were similar to those of past marches. There were the same red banners waving as the protesters headed up Independence Avenue behind a rank of police cars to lobby Congress and protest in front of the Supreme Court. And there was the same profusion of huge photographs of aborted fetuses.
  • Cardinal Keeler did not specifically mention Boston Cardinal Bernard Law's recent plea for a temporary halt to anti-abortion demonstrations near clinics. But the Baltimore churchman backed continued "speech about abortion and peaceful protest against it," declaring, "We must be clear -- truth does not kill, and tragically abortion does."
    He also said, "We denounce any violence taking place outside abortion clinics, but we cannot blink away the violence taking place inside the clinics."

"The Signers | Southern Poverty Law Center" September 15, 1998


"The Signers | Southern Poverty Law Center". Splcenter.org. September 15, 1998.

  • View the signers of the 'defensive action statement,' a proclamation that violence is justifiable in the extremists' fight to end abortion.
    Shortly before the trial of Michael Griffin for the 1993 murder of Dr. David Gunn, former Rev. Paul Hill and 33 others signed what has become known as the "defensive action statement."
    The statement (text below) has become well known in the movement as one of the definitive lists of those who have seen murder of abortion doctors as "justifiable homicide."
    Some of the signers, whose names were compiled by the Feminist Majority Foundation, have since withdrawn their names, and some have changed locations.
    "We, the undersigned, declare the justice of taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force. We proclaim that whatever force is legitimate to defend the life of a born child is legitimate to defend the life of an unborn child. We assert that if Michael Griffin did in fact kill David Gunn, his use of lethal force was justifiable provided it was carried out for the purpose of defending the lives of unborn children. Therefore, he ought to be acquitted of the charges against him."

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


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

  • The conflict over abortion has a long history in American political life. The states were originally guided on the matter of abortion by British common law, which permitted abortion until “quickening”, the point about midway through pregnancy when the woman first perceives fetal movement. Although abortion before quickening was socially acceptable and there was no grass-roots anti-abortion movement before the twentieth century, there was a successful campaign to outlaw abortion in the nineteenth century that was initiated not by religious leaders-as might be expected-but by physicians. The physicians who led this campaign were “regular” doctors motivated in large part by their desire to regulate medicine and to drive out the “irregular” doctors who were most likely to perform abortions. The power of these regular physicians grew with the formation of the American Medical Association (AMA) in 1847 and later from a political alliance with the anti-obscenity movement led by Anthony Comstock in the 1870s. But because there was no popular movement to resist the pressure exerted by the AMA and its members, by 1900 abortion had been outlawed by every state in the nation (see Mohr, 1978).
    • 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.
    • p.4
  • When the Court handed down its decision in the Webster case on July 3, 1989, it was immediately viewed by all concerned as a disaster for the pro-choice cause and a victory for anti-abortion forces. But unlike outcomes that spell the end of a battle and create the danger of demobilization for the victor, this one opened up new tactical opportunities for countermovement forces. Anti-abortion groups immediately began lobbying for new state laws that would curtail abortions and bring about further challenged to “Roe v. Wade” through the courts. In response, pro-choice organizations, including NARAL, NOW, and RCAR, announced their own campaigns to fight the legislative initiatives and to campaign against anti-abortion state legislators (see “National Journal”, 1989). Thus the 1989 Court ruling energized both movement and countermovement.
    As the new round of fire in the abortion battle began, a number of commentators observed that the anti-abortion forces were better prepared than the prochoice forces to fight the upcoming state legislative and political battles (cf. Garb, 1989b; Kornhauster, 1989a). Although pro-choice leaders have conceded that the countermovement is better organized in some parts of the country, the history of the pro-choice movement in the post-Hyde period of the abortion conflict reveals that this is not the first round of intensified conflict.
    • pp.138-139
  • A number of states did begin considering new anti-abortion laws after “Webster” and in November 1989, Pennsylvania became the first to pass a new law that was even more restrictive than the Missouri law upheld by the Court (New York Times”, November 19, 1989). In 1990, the U.S. territory of Guam passed a ban on nearly all abortions, which, however, was blocked by the courts. The state legislature in Idaho passed a bill banning abortion “as a means of birth control” that also would have banned most abortions, but the governor vetoed the bill. In Louisiana, the governor vetoed two different versions of a tough anti-abortion bill intended to challenge “Roe v. Wade”. In all, by 1990, over one hundred restrictive abortion bills were pending in state legislatures (see “New York Times”, April 2, 1990).
    • pp.140-141

"Clinic Killings Follow Years of Antiabortion Violence" (January 17, 1995)


"Clinic Killings Follow Years of Antiabortion Violence". Washingtonpost. (January 17, 1995).

  • Militant antiabortion activists have been waging a protracted campaign of violence against women's health clinics and the people who work in them over the past decade, creating a climate of terror long before a gunman opened fire last month at clinics in Massachusetts and Virginia.
    The killings of two doctors, two clinic staff members and a voluntary escort over the past 22 months have captured national attention. But the tally of violence over the past 12 years includes 123 cases of arson and 37 bombings in 33 states, and more than 1,500 cases of stalking, assault, sabotage and burglary, according to records compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the clinics themselves.
    "We have seen a consistent pattern, acknowledging the fact that people are willing to go to any means for their cause," said Ralph Ostrowski, chief of ATF's arson and explosives division. "In the past we would have acts of violence directed at property. Now we see acts of violence directed at people."
  • Nearly all antiabortion leaders say they are aware of the scope of the violence and have condemned it, and say no one in their groups is associated with such tactics. They describe the violence as an aberration.
    "There is not this collective soul-searching on the part of our movement because we have been responsible and we have been nonviolent," said the Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition. There are "extremists in every movement... . I think that extremists opposed to abortion got frustrated, felt they were losing the battle and felt it was incumbent upon themselves to resort to violence."
    The Rev. Flip Benham, director of Operation Rescue, went further and accused "those in the abortion-providing industry" of committing most of the violence in an attempt to discredit the antiabortion movement. He said he would soon bring evidence to Washington that would undermine the government's statistics.
    However, ATF spokeswoman Susan McCarron said of the 49 people prosecuted so far, "We found that all expressed antiabortion views. There is nothing in our cases that would show it's providers or supporters of abortion that are doing these acts, but we investigate all leads."
  • Immediately after hearing the news of the killings last month in Brookline, Mass., Cardinal Bernard Law, archbishop of Boston, issued a statement asking for a moratorium on protests at abortion facilities. But his plea has been rejected by other prominent figures across the spectrum in the antiabortion movement -- including Benham, Cardinal John J. O'Connor of New York and Judie Brown of the American Life League.
    Like many other antiabortion leaders interviewed, Benham said he sees no connection between angry rhetoric and violent action. "This whole thing isn't about violence. It's all about silence -- silencing the Christian message. That's what they want," Benham said of abortion rights leaders. "They screech and scream about us crying fire in a crowded theater. And I agree it is wrong, unless there is a fire. If there's a fire in that theater, we better call it that. Our inflammatory rhetoric is only revealing a far more inflammatory truth."
  • ATF agents have arrested 49 people in 77 of the bombing and arson cases. Thirty-three cases have been closed because they have exceeded the statute of limitations. The 50 cases still under investigation include an arson at the Commonwealth Women's Clinic in Falls Church last July 31.
    Damages range from $150 at a Brooklyn, N.Y., clinic that was the target of two Molotov cocktails in 1993, to $1.4 million caused by an arson fire at Family Planning Associates in Bakersfield, Calif., in September of the same year. The total damage to property amounts to more than $12 million.
    A federal task force of officials with the ATF, FBI, U.S. marshals and lawyers from the Justice Department's criminal and civil divisions was created in 1993, and stepped up its efforts after Paul D. Hill shot to death two people at a Pensacola, Fla., clinic last July. A grand jury is currently hearing evidence in Alexandria.
    Authorities are focusing on whether there is a national conspiracy, although some officials privately note they have not found evidence to support that at this stage in the investigation. Several law enforcement officials say it is more likely they will find separate conspiracies conducted by small cadres of activists, as well as campaigns carried out by individuals.
    Some of the incidents match the description of tactics in "The Army of God" manual that law enforcement officers found buried in the yard of Rochelle "Shelly" Shannon, an Oregon activist convicted of shooting Wichita doctor George Tiller, and awaiting trial on eight counts of arson at clinics in several states.
    "Annihilating abortuaries is our purest form of worship," the manual says. It gives explicit instructions for home-brewing plastic explosives, fashioning detonators, deactivating alarm systems, and cutting phone, gas and water lines.
    Some federal investigators suspect that there is no organized "Army of God." They believe the manual has not been widely distributed, but may have provided guidance in several cases of arson, bombing and sabotage. The butyric acid attack on the Women's Pavilion in South Bend precisely matches tactics described in the manual.
  • After the recent shootings in Massachusetts, in which two clinic receptionists were killed and five people wounded, the Justice Department ordered federal officials to record every threat against clinics and their staffs, and began to enforce the civil provisions of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) law. Enacted last year, the law makes it a federal crime to physically block access to clinics, damage their property or injure, interfere with or intimidate their staff or patients. <br. Last week a federal judge in Kansas City, Mo., used the civil provisions of the FACE law to issue a temporary restraining order against Regina Rene Dinwiddie for threatening and intimidating staff and clients at the Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City clinic.
    Antiabortion protesters say the law is being used to limit their freedom of speech. But federal officials are beginning to crack down on the death threats that have become increasingly common. There were about 400 death threats and bomb threats logged in 1994 alone.
  • Curtis Stover has seen a dramatic change in the protesters' behavior in the 21 years he's performed abortions in Little Rock. "Before, all they would do is quietly carry placards around and not do much," Stover said. Now, "every other sentence is full of the word 'murder.' Patients come in and they yell at them not to murder their babies. I've had picketers tell me I was going to die by a certain date."
    Arson, bombings and other violent acts have been directed at abortion clinics for years. The first fatal attack occured in 1993.

“The Partisan Trajectory of the American Pro-Life Movement: How a Liberal Catholic Campaign Became a Conservative Evangelical Cause”, (16 April 2015)


Daniel K. Williams, “The Partisan Trajectory of the American Pro-Life Movement: How a Liberal Catholic Campaign Became a Conservative Evangelical Cause”, Religions 2015, 6(2), 451-475; (Received: 25 February 2015 / Revised: 2 April 2015 / Accepted: 3 April 2015 / Published: 16 April 2015)

  • Many of the Catholics who formed the first anti-abortion organizations in the late 1960s were liberal Democrats who viewed their campaign to save the unborn as a rights-based movement that was fully in keeping with the principles of New Deal and Great Society liberalism, but when evangelical Protestants joined the movement in the late 1970s, they reframed the pro-life cause as a politically conservative campaign linked not to the ideology of human rights but to the politics of moral order and “family values.”
    • “Introduction”
  • In September 1972 several hundred young, liberal pro-lifers gathered on the Washington Mall to protest against abortion.1 In a demonstration modeled on the political protest tactics of the New Left, the young pro-lifers—many of whom were college students or recent college graduates—tore up copies of their birth certificates to protest the fact that the law recognized birth, rather than conception, as the beginning of human life, and they listened to a folk rock band sing about the value of unborn children. All of the speakers—ranging from Erma Clardy Craven, an African American Democrat who chaired the Mayor’s Commission on Human Rights in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to the Rev. Charles Carroll, an Episcopal priest from Berkeley, California, who opposed the death penalty—were liberals. The antiwar Lutheran minister Richard John Neuhaus gave a speech denouncing both abortion and the war in Vietnam, adding his endorsement of the pro-life cause to that of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (wife of 1972 Democratic vice presidential nominee, Sargent Shriver), who had previously sent the young pro-lifers a telegram of support. To the leaders of the National Youth Pro-Life Coalition (NYPLC), the organization that orchestrated the demonstration, it seemed unthinkable that anyone would equate the pro-life cause with political conservatism. At the time, many of the nation’s leading advocates of abortion legalization were Republicans, and many Democrats—including such liberal stalwarts as Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy—were defenders of the right to life for the unborn. “We consider ourselves an extremely liberal group,” Susan Bastyr, a co-founder of the NYPLC, declared. Neuhaus concurred. “The anti-abortion forces are not instruments of political and social conservatism,” he told the demonstrators on the Washington Mall. “Rather they are related to the protest against the Indochina war, the militarization of American life, and the social crimes perpetrated against the poor”.
    • “Introduction”
  • Yet less than a decade after the NYPLC’s liberal demonstration against abortion, pro-life protests in Washington, DC, adopted a very different political tone. In January 1981, a large group of pro-lifers—this time, numbering in the tens of thousands—once again gathered on the Washington Mall to protest against abortion. But this time, there was no evidence of the pro-life movement’s earlier connections with politically liberal causes. No one at the rally spoke out against President Ronald Reagan’s military buildup, nor did anyone discuss the “social crimes perpetrated against the poor” that had disturbed Neuhaus nine years earlier. Instead, seven pro-life leaders ended the demonstration with a private meeting at the White House with President Reagan and leading conservative Republican pro-lifers in Congress, including Senator Jesse Helms. The rally itself featured an address by one of Reagan’s Cabinet members, Secretary of Health and Human Services Richard Schweiker. And instead of listening to a folk rock band, as the NYPLC demonstrators had nine years earlier, the participants in the 1981 March for Life were entertained by an evangelical Christian musician from Memphis, Tennessee, who sang a medley of Christian hits and patriotic songs. Although the annual March for Life had been started by a Catholic liberal Democrat, by the beginning of the Reagan era it had become infused with conservative Protestant evangelicalism and Republican Party politics.
    • “Introduction”
  • No other historian has yet traced the pro-life movement’s trajectory from a liberal campaign to a conservative cause, because few historians are aware that the pro-life movement once had a liberal identity. Most histories of the abortion issue have portrayed the early pro-life movement as a product of a popular backlash against feminism and other rights-based causes of the era.3 By arguing that the pro-life movement originated as a liberal rights-based campaign, this study challenges conventional historical understandings of this subject, and by analyzing the role that religion played in the movement’s partisan and ideological shifts, it likewise goes beyond existing scholarship on the movement. This essay argues that transformations in the pro-life movement’s religious identity coalesced with changes in the nation’s politics to produce a partisan shift in the right-to-life campaign and reconfigure the country’s political debate over abortion.
    • “Introduction”
  • Pro-life advocates argued that the fetus was a powerless minority that was entitled to legal protection, just as other minorities were. Catholic lawyers of the 1960s and early 1970s claimed that the Fourteenth Amendment protected the unborn, a claim that grounded their cause in the same constitutional amendment that had given civil rights advocates their landmark victory in Brown v. Board. Like civil rights advocates, pro-life activists believed that their campaign was an effort to protect the powerless—in this case, the fetus—against the powerful. As Sidney Callahan, a liberal Catholic and self-described feminist, said, “Each human being has inviolable rights and dignity no matter what…The powerful (including parents) cannot be allowed to want and unwant people at will”.
    • “The Liberal Origins of the Pro-Life Cause”
  • Pro-lifers’ reactions against the Vietnam War pushed the movement further to the left. In the early years of the movement, opponents of abortion, most of whom were staunchly anticommunist, had been reluctant to say anything against the nation’s military effort in Vietnam. They were New Deal liberals and advocates of the civil rights movement, but in the mid-1960s, they hesitated to link themselves to a radical student cause that would put them at odds with their nation’s government and with some of the nation’s highest-ranking Catholic clerics, including New York archbishop Cardinal Francis Spellman, who had endorsed the war as a necessity in the fight against Communism. Indeed, one of the leading pro-life books of the late 1960s, Charles E. Rice’s The Vanishing Right to Live, explicitly condemned those who refused to serve in Vietnam. But by the end of the decade, some pro-lifers concluded that if they valued human life before birth, they also needed to protect the lives of those already born and join the campaign against the war. After Fr. James McHugh, founder of the National Right to Life Committee and director of the bishops’ Family Life Bureau, included a discussion of the ethics of war in the model homily on abortion that he sent to the nation’s Catholic priests in January 1969, an increasing number of pro-lifers began talking about the injustice of the war in Vietnam, as well as the arms race. The definitive antiabortion publication of 1970, a 500-page tome by Georgetown philosophy professor Germain Grisez, condemned the nuclear arms race as unethical and questioned the morality of the Vietnam War, saying that it “poses many problems from an ethical point of view”. Despite conservative Catholics’ initial reluctance to issue an unmitigated condemnation of the war, denunciations of the nation’s military effort in Vietnam became widespread in the pro-life movement by 1972. “We cannot be selective in our love for life,” Detroit’s archbishop, Cardinal John Dearden, declared in September 1972. “The very same reasons call on us to protect it wherever and however it is threatened, whether through the suffocation of poverty or in villages ravaged by napalm or unborn life in a mother’s womb”.
  • The young pro-life activists who forged an alliance between the pro-life campaign and the antiwar cause imbued their movement with a heightened concern about poverty and a new vision for a cooperative society. The right-to-life cause had long been associated with a Catholic understanding of New Deal liberalism and with the ideology of human rights, but the young Catholic pro-lifers who denounced the Vietnam War pushed the movement further to the left, arguing that the movement should not only oppose all killing—including capital punishment, which some older Catholics still supported—but should also champion a comprehensive program of public assistance to unwed mothers to encourage positive alternatives to abortion. “The solution to the woman’s problems is neither to offer her abortion, nor merely to prohibit it, but rather to demonstrate that there are humane alternatives,” MCCL proclaimed in 1971. “This means that we must provide counseling, medical care, financial assistance, homes for unwed mothers, adoption agencies and effective welfare programs”. Many pro-lifers—including Thomas Hilgers, a Catholic graduate fellow in obstetrics at the Mayo Clinic, a pro-life activist in Save Our Unwanted Life (SOUL), and author of Abortion and Social Justice (1972)—advocated an expansion of maternal health insurance, as well as reform of the adoption process to ensure good homes for all children, especially those who were disabled. The War on Poverty should be “more than a backyard skirmish,” he declared.
    • “The Liberal Origins of the Pro-Life Cause”
  • Pro-lifers failed to retain the liberal support that they had won in the early 1970s because the fetal rights that they championed conflicted with another rights-based cause that became increasingly important to liberals: women’s rights to equality and bodily autonomy, which the feminist movement convinced the national Democratic Party to endorse in the 1970s. The Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade (1973), which declared that women’s right to privacy gave them a constitutional right to abortion during the first two trimesters of pregnancy, offered liberal Democrats a strong incentive to choose the right that had a Supreme Court mandate (i.e., women’s right to reproductive freedom) over the right that did not (i.e., the fetus’s right to life) when the two rights came into conflict. Pro-lifers’ attempt to ground their movement in liberal rights-based ideology thus ran aground against the feminist movement’s successful lobbying and the Supreme Court’s refusal to accept their constitutional arguments. After the late 1970s, pro-lifers found more political support from conservative Republican politicians than from liberal Democrats, at least at the national level.
    • “Evangelicals’ Role in the Pro-Life Movement’s Conservative Turn”
  • [B]y the end of the twentieth century, the pro-life movement was firmly allied with the Republican Party, and the nation’s leading pro-life organization, the National Right to Life Committee, had abandoned most of its earlier concerns about poverty and war. Instead of grounding their cause in the liberal rhetoric of the New Deal, the Great Society, and the antiwar movement, many pro-lifers framed their campaign as a battle to protect “family values” against the assaults of an immoral government. Pro-life organizations were able to make this shift partly because politically progressive Catholics no longer set the agenda for the movement after 1980; the leading spokespersons for the pro-life cause were now conservative evangelicals, and their political views were very different from those of the Catholic New Deal liberals who had initially launched the antiabortion campaign.
    • “Evangelicals’ Role in the Pro-Life Movement’s Conservative Turn”
  • Prior to the late 1970s, the pro-life movement was overwhelmingly Catholic, despite Catholic pro-lifers’ attempts to make common cause with Protestants. In 1972, one of the nation’s two largest state right-to-life organizations, New York Right to Life, had a membership that was still 85 percent Catholic even after its president had made a concerted effort to recruit Protestants and Jews, and the country’s largest national pro-life organization, the National Right to Life Committee, was still closely tied to the US Catholic Conference’s Family Life Bureau. Even the Protestants in the movement were unlikely to be conservative evangelicals; instead, they were mainline Episcopalians, Methodists, and Lutherans who supported liberal Democrats and who joined the pro-life movement precisely because they considered it a politically progressive, rights-based cause. California Episcopal priest Charles Carroll, for instance, became a national speaker for the movement in the late 1960s only after he had marched with Cesar Chavez and protested against the Vietnam War. Likewise, New York Lutheran minister Richard John Neuhaus (who eventually became a Catholic priest, but who began his ministerial career as a politically progressive Lutheran) began speaking out against the Vietnam War before he wrote anything in defense of the unborn. Nearly all of the Protestants leading state pro-life organizations prior to 1973 were members of mainline denominations; they were not Southern Baptists or Pentecostals. Arizona’s state pro-life organization was led by an Episcopalian, Minnesota’s by a self-described “liberal” Methodist, Michigan’s by a Presbyterian, and North Dakota’s by a member of the American Lutheran Church.
    • “Evangelicals’ Role in the Pro-Life Movement’s Conservative Turn”
  • By 1980, a Gallup Poll showed that evangelical Protestants—most of whom were political conservatives—were more likely than either Catholics or mainline Protestants to oppose abortion. In 1986, the Southern Baptist Convention, which only a decade before had held an official stance on abortion that allowed for the procedure in extreme situations, adopted the Catholic Church’s practice of observing Sanctity of Human Life Sunday each January in protest against Roe v. Wade. This shift in the religious demographics of the movement reshaped the movement’s partisan identity. In contrast to many of the Catholics and mainline Protestants who had joined the movement in the late 1960s or early 1970s, most of the evangelicals who enlisted in the pro-life cause in the late 1970s and 1980s were political conservatives, so after they joined the campaign, they converted the pro-life movement to the politics of the right.6
    • “Evangelicals’ Role in the Pro-Life Movement’s Conservative Turn”
  • By portraying the campaign against abortion as a fight against the tyranny of a secular state, Schaeffer reframed what had been a Catholic human rights cause grounded in New Deal liberalism and transformed it into the centerpiece of a conservative evangelical fight for the restoration of Christian-based law in the nation and curbs on the power of the secular judiciary. Unlike Catholics, conservative evangelicals had never been advocates of the New Deal social welfare state, and they distrusted government efforts to eradicate poverty through federal programs. Most evangelicals supported capital punishment and saw no problem with wars against Communism; they therefore had no interest in linking the pro-life cause to antinuclear or antiwar movements. But they had a long tradition of campaigning against sexual immorality and moral vices, so a campaign against abortion that was linked to a broader defense of sexual morality, moral order, and the restoration of Christian values in government appealed to them. At a time when many conservative evangelicals were becoming increasingly alarmed about the sexual permissiveness and changes in gender roles in American society, and at a time when many feared that the state had rejected Christian values, the use of Roe as a symbol for the evils of a secular state made sense.
    • “Why Evangelicals Became Concerned about Abortion”
  • For evangelicals of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the campaign against abortion was only one component in a much larger campaign to save both the family and the nation from moral degradation and the sexual revolution. Although conservative evangelicals believed that they were saving unborn children by campaigning against abortion, many of them exhibited no equivalent interest in saving human lives from nuclear war, capital punishment, or other threats that had interested politically liberal Catholics in the early 1970s. A few progressive evangelicals, such as Jim Wallis and Ronald Sider, objected to these political priorities and advocated instead for a pro-life ideology grounded in a broader concern for all human life, but their campaign made only limited headway. Unlike Catholics, most conservative evangelicals of the early 1980s did not make the promotion of positive alternatives to abortion a major priority; for them, the pro-life campaign was primarily a quest to change the nation’s laws. Many of them later became champions of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers and homes for unwed pregnant women, but at the time, legal changes in abortion policy were their main concern.
    • “Why Evangelicals Became Concerned about Abortion”
  • Pro-lifers’ narrowly based legal campaign appealed to New Right political strategists and conservative politicians, who objected to Roe as an example of judicial overreach and who were happy to make common cause with pro-lifers by endorsing their newfound narrative portraying abortion as the product of a liberal, secular state. New Right political operative Richard Viguerie’s attempt to blame the New Deal social welfare state for abortion was typical rhetoric for conservatives in the late 1970s and early 1980s. “For years liberalism made war on private property, private initiative, private education, public morality, religion, and finally human life itself,” Viguerie wrote in 1982. “Beginning with high taxes and ending with abortion, it violated the deepest aspirations and convictions of millions of Americans”. Ronald Reagan presented a similar narrative when communicating with pro-lifers, blaming legalized abortion on a liberal Supreme Court that had exceeded its power. “The 22 January 1973 Supreme Court decision…overruled the historic role of the states in legislating in the areas concerning abortion and took away virtually every protection previously accorded the unborn,” Reagan declared in July 1979. “Later decisions have intruded into the family structure through their denial of the parents’ obligations and right to guide their minor children”. By connecting abortion legalization to judicial activism, a violation of states’ rights, and an attack on the family, Reagan and his fellow conservatives cooperated with evangelicals in reshaping the pro-life cause into a conservative movement that conservative Protestants were happy to endorse. Reagan may not have been an evangelical, but on the issue of abortion, he echoed the language of conservative Protestants such as Schaeffer and Falwell, who linked the abortion issue to “pro-family” politics and an attack on the liberal state.
    • “The Pro-Life Movement’s Alliance with Political Conservatism”
  • Msgr. George Higgins, a left-leaning California cleric who supported Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers, said in 1980 that “prolife Catholics” needed to “seriously consider the possibility that in collaborating with the right wing on abortion they risk defeat of the overall social justice agenda.” Although pro-lifers might get a Human Life Amendment by voting for Ronald Reagan, they would also tie their cause to “a potpourri of other right-wing issues that, almost without exception, contradict the official positions of the church”. In a reflection of their anxiety about linking their cause to the Republican Party or the New Christian Right, the nation’s Catholic bishops highlighted their opposition to the death penalty and their concern for the poor when discussing issues of concern in the 1980 election, while saying less about abortion than they had in the previous election cycle. The bishops’ desire to distance themselves from Reagan continued after the Republican’s election to the White House. While Jerry Falwell endorsed the president’s nuclear weapons buildup and his cuts in social programs, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops condemned these measures.
    • “The Pro-Life Movement’s Alliance with Political Conservatism”
  • In 1983 the nation’s Catholic bishops attempted to reclaim the pro-life cause for the politics of the left by linking antiabortion advocacy with campaigns against war and nuclear arms buildup. To “end the scourge of war,” America needed to “begin by defending life at its most defenseless, the life of the unborn,” the bishops declared in their pastoral letter, “The Challenge of Peace” [135]. The principal author of this document, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, insisted that Catholics needed to advocate a “consistent ethic of life,” or, as he sometimes phrased it, a “seamless garment” of life [136]. Catholics needed to oppose offensive war, nuclear arms buildup, capital punishment, and abortion; they could not select one of these causes over the other—which meant, in practice, that they would find it difficult to ally with either conservative Republicans or pro-choice Democrats. Many Catholics, along with a few liberal evangelicals, endorsed Bernardin’s vision. The Seamless Garment Network, which Juli Loesch and several left-leaning evangelicals founded in 1987, attempted to translate Bernardin’s ethic into practical politics by lobbying for the protection of human life in all areas, both before and after birth. Yet the majority of pro-lifers never followed this route, partly because a cooperation with a handful of pro-life Democrats—which Loesch attempted—seemed increasingly quixotic after the early 1990s.
    • “The Pro-Life Movement’s Alliance with Political Conservatism”
  • By the end of the twentieth century, even many Catholics had come to view the pro-life cause as a movement to protect the family and preserve a traditional view of sexuality, and they began linking their cause not to antiwar activism or the politics of the left, but to a conservative sexual ethic. Thomas Hilgers and Susan Bastyr, who had helped organize the National Youth Pro-Life Coalition and had campaigned for the pro-life politics of the left, devoted their later careers to advocating Natural Family Planning, an abstinence-based form of fertility regulation associated with conservative Catholicism. Juli Loesch, the antinuclear activist, began writing articles against premarital sex. Even Richard John Neuhaus, the antiwar minister who had denounced conservatism at the NYPLC’s antiabortion demonstration in Washington in 1972, moved to the right as he reacted against the sexual revolution and cultural liberalism. In his later years, he converted to Catholicism, founded the conservative magazine First Things, and—perhaps most surprisingly, considering his early denunciations of America’s military effort in Vietnam—defended the Iraq War.
    • “The Pro-Life Movement’s Alliance with Political Conservatism”
  • By the twenty-first century, the liberal demonstrators who had decried abortion as a crime against human rights had fully embraced the conservative evangelical political fight against the sexual revolution and had abandoned their earlier liberalism. For them, the pro-life cause was still a human rights campaign to save the unborn. Yet now it would be linked not with the other human rights causes of the left but with the culturally conservative causes of the right. The liberal Democratic politicians who had once sympathized with the pro-life cause had long since left the movement, and in the wake of their departure, conservative evangelicals and Republican politicians seemed to offer the pro-life movement its only hope of political victory.
    • “Conclusion”

"Anti-Abortion Extremism and Violence in the United States"


Aaron Winter. "Anti-Abortion Extremism and Violence in the United States". (June 28, 2015).

  • Debates about the relationship and boundary between mainstream and extremist (sometimes referred to as radical or violent) activism historically emerge in response to violent incidents, where defenders of a cause will attempt to differentiate between the two in order to maintain their legitimacy and critics will attempt to make links between them in order to delegitimize the movement. This is necessary in the case of the former and possible in the case of the latter because of both popular opposition and distaste for ‘extremism’ (however defined) and because of the overlap between the ideologies and objectives of mainstream movements and so-called extremist ones, even if they differ in terms of tactics. While a movement’s ideology does come into play in the definition of extremism, its application is usually reserved for those movements or activists that, while sharing an ideology or objectives with mainstream ones, reject legitimate democratic methods in favor of violence. While this analytical distinction and boundary is applied to many movements, perhaps the clearest application is the anti-abortion movement in the United States, which includes: elected officials, members of the Republican Party, the Christian Right, church groups and citizen activists, as well as more militant direct action organizations, terrorists and elements of the extreme right. The distinction and relationship between the ‘mainstream’ and ‘extreme’ anti-abortion activism has become more significant in the first decade of the 21st century as America has not only waged a war against terrorism, but the stigma of terrorism that had become attached to the anti-abortion movement in the 1990s has been obscured as anti-abortion activism reached the White House and political power under President George W. Bush and the ascendant Christian Right. Yet, anti-abortion violence returned soon after Bush left office and Barack Obama entered it as the murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors to perform so-called ‘late-term abortions,’ by activist Scott Roeder in Wichita, Kansas on May 31 2009 clearly illustrated.
  • In their NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics: Incidents of Violence & Disruption Against Abortion Providers in the U.S. & Canada, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) reports under the category of ‘violence’, that between 1977 and 2008 there have been 7 murders, 17 attempted murders, 41 bombings, 175 arsons, 96 attempted bombings and arsons, 385 cases of invasion, 1,358 cases of vandalism, 1,833 cases of trespassing, 100 Butyric acid attacks, 658 anthrax attacks, 171 cases of assault and battery, 399 death threats, 4 kidnappings, 140 cases of burglary, and 506 stalking cases. The highest number of murders (4) and attempted murders (8) for any single year took place in 1,994, during the Clinton era when the abortion wars were at their peak. Surprisingly though, considering the association of 2001 with Islamist terrorism, the Democratic Party with pro-choice policies and George W. Bush as a friend of the Christian Right and pro-choice movement, this was the year of the greatest number of violent incidents, 795 which much of it accounted for by (fake) anthrax attacks.The NAF also keeps statistics on ‘disruption’ which includes activities and tactics associated with both the extremist and militant wings, as un-affiliated individuals. Under this category, between 1977 and 2008, there have been 12,283 cases of hate mail and harassing calls, 295 cases of email or internet based harassment, 122 hoax devices or suspicious packages sent to providers, 631 bomb threats, and 130,060 cases of picketing, although the latter of which is also a tactic of mainstream activists which can account for the high number. Under the category of ‘clinic blockades, which could also be classified as ‘disruptions’, there were 755 incidents and 37,718 arrests during this period. The NAF also state that the number of incidents is likely to be higher than reported.
  • The 1990s were the most violent period of anti-abortion activism. The decade not only saw the extremist wing of the movement become increasingly violent and radicalized, but brazen and confrontational in their threats, public statements and engagement with the government. What was also notable during this period was that the movement developed and radicalized not initially in response to specific legal or political developments. In fact, Sara Diamond argues that President George HW Bush’s failure to achieve major policy changes on abortion and thus appease the Christian Right base of both his support and that of his party, led to increased frustration across the movement and had an influence on the increase in both vandalism and violence. This would change as the decade went on and Clinton antagonized the movement with his pro-choice position and legislation designed protect abortion provision and providers and control anti-abortion protests and violence (to which I will return after outlining the incidents which led to such legislation). While the lack of specific anti-abortion political and legal developments in the late 1980s and early 1990s under Bush Sr. did influence the movement and inform its increased violence, greater radicalization and mobilization of the movement centered around internal developments, most notably in support of activists who had committed attacks. The first attack of the 1990s was also the first assassination of an abortion provider, that of Dr. David Gunn by Michael Griffin on March 10 1993 in Pensacola, Florida.
  • The 1990s witnessed not only the highest levels of anti-abortion violence, but the emergence and growth of the anti-government patriot and militia movements that anti-abortion activists such as Trewhella were establishing links with, and the Oklahoma City bombing which brought anti-government domestic terrorism to national attention. According to experts, by the end of the 1990s, anti-abortion terrorism had alienated the more mainstream non-violent activists, leading to a decline in their ranks and the increasing radicalization of the extremists. Both of these developments can be seen as been influenced by the government’s response to both anti-abortion and extreme right terrorism during the decade. The first major piece of legislation passed under Clinton was the Freedom of Clinic Entrances Act of 1994 which prosecuted any protest that impeded clinic access, and by effect criminalized many popular protest tactics. That same year, the Attorney General Janet Reno established the Task Force on Violence Against Abortion Providers (VAAPCON) to investigate whether there was a nationwide ‘conspiracy’ to commit acts of violence against abortion and reproductive health providers. The following year, Clinton and the US Attorneys established local task forces to coordinate law enforcement efforts to deal with clinic violence.
    With such government action coming on the back of government sieges at Ruby Ridge and Waco, it was not difficult for the anti-abortion movement to feel paranoid about a government conspiracy against them, something that further linked them to the anti-government extreme right and militia movement. With the Oklahoma City bombing occurring in April that year, wider domestic terrorism became a matter of national focus and urgency. In response, Senate Subcommittee hearings were held in 1995-6 on Combating Domestic Terrorism, The Militia Movement in the United States and The Nature and Threat of Violent Anti-Government Groups in America.

“Roes Race: The Supreme Court, Population Control, and Reproductive Justice” (2013)


Mary Ziegler, “Roes Race: The Supreme Court, Population Control, and Reproductive Justice”, Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, Volume 25, Issue 1, 2013

  • Beginning in the winter of 2011, abortion opponents in Congress and state legislatures mobilized to demand the defunding of abortion providers rather than the outlawing of abortion procedures, particularly targeting Planned Parenthood. Underlying the debate about defunding Planned Parenthood have been broader questions about the role of race and racism in abortion politics. Similar arguments have played a part in discussions of legislation banning race-selection abortions-abortions based on the race of a fetus-that has been passed in four states, considered in several others, and voted on in Congress.
    Questions of race have preoccupied commentators on both sides of the abortion debate. In promoting new legal restrictions on abortion, abortion opponents have drawn on the history of the early movement for birth control to charge abortion-rights supporters with racism. The anti-abortion movement ties earlier proponents of family planning and legal abortion to what they characterize as a bigoted movement for population control or eugenics.7 Abortion-rights activists counter with an alternative history, tracing an emphasis on reproductive freedom back through the 1970s and beyond.
  • *p.3
  • [B]efore and after Roe, influential state anti-abortion organizations like Women for the Unborn in New York made claims about the supposed racism of abortion supporters. Members of Women for the Unborn belonged to the recently mobilized anti-abortion movement. Beginning in the late 1960s, a number of private citizens responded to changes in abortion laws by forming small organizations designed to stall the progress of the abortion-rights movement. While some members of the anti-abortion movement had been involved in civil-rights politics,191 the movement focused on protecting the rights of the fetus, the disabled, and the dying. For example, in 1971, Robert Byrn, a Fordham Law School professor and a leader of New York State Right to Life, brought suit as a guardian ad litem for unborn children scheduled to be aborted in New York hospitals.193 Byrn also used the media to publicize his understanding of the personhood and rights of the fetus, arguing that "[t]he eight-week fetus has a human baby face, arms, legs, fingers, toes, a strongly beating heart and a brain that emits recordable impulses."' New York abortion opponents translated Byrn's claims into "a visual argument," depicting late-term abortions using "still photographs of fetuses and film strips."l Nationally, anti-abortion organizations publicized similar claims, circulating slide shows explaining "the reality of abortion."
    • pp.29-30
  • As population control became more controversial, the political benefits of population control claims no longer seemed as evident to the abortion-rights movement.
    At the same time, anti-abortion organizations put more emphasis on concerns about racism in abortion clinics and within the abortion rights movement. For example, Dr. Joseph Stanton, a leading abortion opponent in Massachusetts and the leader of Americans United for Life (AUL), a major national group, widely distributed materials on the connection between population control and what he called the "abortion elitist apparatus." The National Right to Life Committee, the nation's largest anti-abortion organization, stressed claims about the supposed racism of Planned Parenthood's connection to the population-control movement of the 1970s. 234 As anti-abortion activist Burke Balch stated in the early 1980s: "Does Planned Parenthood's championship of abortion really stem from a concern for women's rights and social justice and equality, or is its true basis their organizational commitment to population control, especially of the 'burdensome' poor[?]"
    • pp.35-36
  • Laws defunding Planned Parenthood or banning race-selection abortion draw on an alternative narrative, forged by the anti-abortion movement, about the history of race, population control, and abortion. Researchers opposed to abortion, such as Angela Franks and Mary Meehan, began writing this history in the mid-2000s. For example, in reviewing Franks's book on Margaret Sanger, The National Right to Life News asserted that "the primary agenda driving Planned Parenthood and like-minded 'family planning' organizations/population control agencies has never been women's health or their liberation, but control of their fertility for eugenic purposes."
    • p.40
  • For example, a 2010 edition of the Human Life Review suggested that eugenics was "[l]ater called ... population control." Similarly, Mary Meehan has claimed: "Thomas Malthus's obsession with population numbers and Francis Galton's ideas about breeding better babies through eugenics eventually led to a U.S. population-control movement that attained major power by the late 1960s." A second claim asserts that the abortion-rights movement is related to the population-control movement (and by extension, to the eugenics movement). Meehan contends, for example: "Anyone concerned about civil rights should be alarmed by abortion as lethal discrimination against poor people and ethnic minorities.... Eugenicists long have targeted both groups." Legislators who form part of the movement to defund Planned Parenthood invoke this history in promoting a new legal agenda. For example, Senator Rick Santorum, a former presidential candidate, endorsed federal defunding legislation, explaining: "This [Planned Parenthood] is an organization that was founded on the eugenics movement, founded on racism . . . . Its origins are horrific. You can say well, it's not that anymore. It's not far from where it was in my opinion in its activities and in its motivations."
    • p.41
  • In 2011, Herman Cain, another former presidential candidate, offered a similar criticism of Planned Parenthood. Cain emphasized that Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, had worked to "prevent[] the increasing number of poor blacks in this country by preventing black babies from being born." In Cain's view, this history continues to shape Planned Parenthood's work: a form of "planned genocide" that targets racial minorities and the poor.
    • p.41
  • Since 2011, states including Texas, Kansas, Indiana, and Wisconsin have passed laws denying Medicaid or Title X funding to organizations that also provide abortion services. Since the passage of the Hyde Amendment in 1976 and the introduction of a federal law banning the use of Title X monies for abortion, providers cannot use either Title X or Medicaid funds to pay for abortion services. The new defunding laws, by contrast, deny Medicaid or Title X funds to organizations that provide or advocate for abortion even when the funds would exclusively cover non-abortion services, such as contraception or STI testing. In 2011, by a vote of 240 to 185, the federal House of Representatives passed an amendment to a government funding bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood; in the House, eleven Democrats voted for the amendment before it was subsequently defeated in the Senate. A campaign for similar laws is already under way in Pennsylvania and Ohio. At times, the history of race and abortion has played a part in justifying policy makers' support for these bills. For example, North Carolina House Majority Leader John Stam argued that "Planned Parenthood in general, and Margaret Sanger in particular, its founders, were the driving force behind that [eugenics] effort." In explaining his support for a defunding bill, Stam argued: "[W]e should not be supporting the perpetrators of that program."
    • pp.41-42
  • Arizona's race-selection abortion law criminalizes any abortion "sought based on the sex or race of the child or the race of a parent of that child." While women choosing an abortion for any purpose may not be penalized, the law covers anyone supposedly performing or "accepting monies to finance" such an abortion, as well as anyone who uses "force or the threat of force to intentionally injure or intimidate any person for the purpose of coercing" such an abortion. 289 Violators of the Arizona statute may be found guilty of a felony, and the statute explicitly creates a civil-rights action on behalf of the father of the aborted child. The statute protects against the possibility of race- (or sex-) selection abortion by requiring providers to sign an affidavit stating that the provider "has no knowledge that the child to be aborted is being aborted because of the child's sex or race."
    In promoting the bill, Representative Steve Montenegro, the chief sponsor of Arizona's race-selection law, stressed evidence that "abortions were being performed disproportionately among minority populations" and that "some clinics ha[d] been exposed as receiving financial contributions from sources that stipulate the money be used to slow the growth of minority populations." Relying exclusively on the fact that a disproportionate number of women of color chose abortion, Montenegro implied that racism influenced not only the views of past family-planning activists but also the work of contemporary abortion providers. Representative Albert Hale, a Native American, explained his support for the bill by reference to the history of race, abortion, and population control-in his words, the "decimation of . .. Native Americans."
    • pp.42-43
  • Since 2011, similar arguments played a part in an unsuccessful Georgia campaign to ban race- and sex-selection abortions. The campaign featured billboards and advertising suggesting that minority children were becoming "an endangered species" by virtue of abortion used as a tool for population control.
    Similarly, at the federal level, in early 2012, Representative Trent Franks (R-AZ) proposed the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act (PRENDA) and justified his bill in similar terms. PRENDA would ban sex- and race-selection abortions, or those "performed for purposes of eliminating an unborn child because the child or the parent of the child is of an undesired race." Like the Arizona law, PRENDA would provide civil and criminal penalties for anyone funding, performing, coercing or transporting a woman across state lines for the purpose of obtaining a race- or sex-selection abortion. Significantly, PRENDA would also create a reporting requirement to law enforcementfor any "physician, physician's assistant, nurse, counselor, or other medical or mental health professional" who is aware of "known or suspected violations" of the statute.
    The bill drew on fears about population control, race, and abortion, asserting that "race-selection abortions have the effect of diminishing the number of minorities in the American population." Representative Franks put the point more baldly, reasoning that "[fjar more black children, far more of the African American community is being devastated by the [abortion] policies of today than were being devastated by the policies of slavery." After House Republicans invoked a rule allowing for non-binding votes that fell short of the required two-thirds majority, the House voted 246 to 168 for the bill, ' raising the possibility that Congress will later revisit the issue. As had been the case with a federal defunding law, PRENDA had some bipartisan support, as twenty Democrats joined 226 Republicans voting for the bill.302
    Moreover, PRENDA, like the Arizona statute, would have more than a symbolic impact. Both laws would require abortion providers to interrogate women about their reasons for choosing an abortion, making more traumatic what is, for many, an already stressful experience. PRENDA would go further, allowing any health-care worker to report and potentially interfere with suspect decisions and giving virtually no guidance as to what would constitute such a suspicion or make it reasonable. As abortion-rights activists have argued, the scrutiny and reporting required by PRENDA would likely have a significant chilling effect on abortion.
    • pp.43-44
  • For lawmakers considering defunding or race-selection legislation, the racial history and politics of abortion continue to remain a central issue. Legislators like Representative Franks suggest that a legacy of racism in the movements for population control and abortion rights still shapes the work of Planned Parenthood and other supporters of legal abortion. Opponents of the bills suggest that PRENDA represents a thinly disguised attempt to undermine abortion rights: for example, Representative John Conyers (D-MI) called PRENDA "just the latest in a series of measures intended to chip away" at abortion rights.
    Legislators supporting measures defunding Planned Parenthood or banning race-selection abortion use the history of the racial politics of abortion in several ways. First, they point to the historical relationship between the movements for eugenics, population control, and abortion as evidence that racism still influences the contemporary abortion-rights movement. In the case of defunding Planned Parenthood, the supposed influence of racism on the contemporary movement serves to justify laws denying public monies to an organization that still supposedly caters to racist supporters. By contrast, in the context of race-selection laws, legislators invoke the relationship between the movements for population control, eugenics, and abortion rights in arguing that race-selective abortions are a real problem deserving legislative attention rather than a smokescreen for narrowing abortion rights.
    • pp.44-45
  • By reconsidering these claims in proper historical context, the Article shows that current claims offered by anti-abortion legislators and activists about race and abortion are flawed. In the years immediately before and after Roe, some abortion-rights organizations did use population-based arguments for abortion or form alliances with population organizations. Some population controllers, moreover, did have ties to the eugenic legal reform movement or work primarily to reduce population growth among the poor. Activists involved in the abortion debate, however, tended to focus on population growth among white, middle class individuals, stressing the importance of sexual freedom and environmental preservation. Belonging to the population-control movement did not necessarily mean that an activist was racially biased.
    As importantly, some within the abortion-rights movement of the 1970s resisted the population frame of the issue, arguing that women's-rights arguments were more principled and resonant. The movements for population control and abortion were diverse in the 1970s and evolved a good deal over time.
    At times, social movements, legislators, and judges contest the history of race, population control, and abortion as part of current battles about laws defunding Planned Parenthood or banning race-selection abortions. Proponents of these laws suggest that the past abortion-rights movement worked to reduce the size of the minority population and continues to do so today. In court, opponents of the laws point to these claims as evidence of an impermissibly punitive legislative purpose.
    These struggles have raised the salience of important issues involving the history of the abortion-rights movement and racial disparities in abortion and other reproductive health care. As the materials here suggest, however, legislators cannot successfully address those disparities by punishing clinics. The population-control movement of the 1970s, and particularly those involved in the effort to legalize abortion, were not predominantly racist, and even in the decade after Roe, the two movements differed substantially from one another. Over the course of the 1970s, moreover, the abortion-rights movement changed a great deal, as feminists redefined the priorities, identities, and arguments of their organizations. Today, the connections between race, population control, and abortion are tenuous at best. Legislation based on this connection will do little to address any racial disparities in reproductive health care.
    • p.50

See also