Pro-Life Movement

The pro-life movement is a concept synonymous with the Right to Life party and anti-abortion beliefs. Abortion is an emotional, political and moral issue, which gained momentum in the 1970s and 1980s. Abortion practices have been subject to public debate and political controversy.

Pro-life supporters view abortion as one of the ultimate human atrocities and there are many reasons why it remains one of the most controversial moral issues in contemporary society across the globe. One of the focuses of this issue is the moral and metaphysical status of human embryos and fetuses. The key argument, which is a complex and grey area, is about when a human being begins to exist.

Walker Percy presents a common view that "since there is no agreement about the beginning of human life, it is therefore a private, religious or philosophical decision and the state and the course can do nothing about it." Others believe this is not the case and suggests life begins when the chromosome of the sperm and ovum fuse to form a new DNA complex. This assumes that moment is the first stage in the existence of human organisms.

The historic Supreme Court decision in the case of Roe v Wade in 1973 was a crucial turning point in the debate about abortion in the United States. This ruling overturned a Texas interpretation of the law and led to the legalization of abortion. The court decided that a woman, with support from her physician, could choose in favor of abortion in the earlier months of pregnancy without any restrictions and could also decide to opt for abortion in the later month in certain cases.

The Right to Life party was formed as a counter-movement in response to legislation for elective abortion. New York became one of the first states to liberalize its abortion laws. As it is the only state that does not require state residence as a pre-requisite for obtaining an abortion, New York has provided Medicaid funding for poor women since 1976. This continued even when Congress prohibited such use of federal funds. New York has the most amount of abortions performed compared to the rest of the United States.

It would appear that in general, New York's residents and political leaders follow pro-choice attitudes. However, a survey examining opinions on abortions among New Yorkers reflect the United States attitudes as a whole. According to this research, 36 percent of women favored allowing a woman to seek an abortion under all circumstances, while 55 percent supported it under some circumstances and 9 percent felt abortion should not be legal under any circumstances.

There are multiple levels of people involved in the decisions of life. In every abortion case, there is the mother, sometimes the father, the abortionist, clinic assistants and others who play a role. Some consider there are indirect persons involved in the co-operation of abortion, from the manufacturers of instruments that make abortion possible, owners of the clinic building, judges who have given the woman the right to abort to the grocery store who sells products that could bring on an abortion.

The pro-life movement has been evident in much literature, reflecting attitudes and opinions that abortion is considered an apocalypse; a revelation of just how immoral people have become. Writings include anti-abortion letters, manuals and mission statements written by Catholics and Protestants alike, by individuals standing to defend unborn babies.

The pro-life movement is associated with religious fundamentalism. The issue of abortion remains one of the broader and controversial issues within societies across the world. Religion, through its authority, defines areas of life of how people behave, including giving guidance on issues such as sexuality and reproduction.

Neal Horsley suggests in his pro-life narrative that we are living in a fatalistic society. He believes that abortion is a sign of the end times of national humanity and mortal life. Horsley presents an ideological coherence of the vast variety of individuals and organizations that describe themselves as pro-life.

Some cases see violent insurrection, as well as lobbying organizations defending the right to life. The pro-life movement and abortion debate have resulted in abortion wars, which have resulted in the brutal murders of doctors and clinic employees. In these instances, people have questioned the term ‘pro-life'. Pro-choice advocates suggest that the lethal protests, killings, bombings and arson aimed at pro-choice supporters have a high level of hypocrisy in their ‘pro-life' label.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Roe V. Wade's 40th Anniversary: A Moment of Truth for the Antiabortion-Rights Movement?
Borgmannn, Caitlin E.
Stanford Law & Policy Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, Winter 2013
The National Right to Life Committee: Its Founding, Its History, and the Emergence of the Pro-Life Movement Prior to Roe V. Wade
Karrer, Robert N.
The Catholic Historical Review, Vol. 97, No. 3, July 2011
Life Support: The Pro-Life Movement Is Hardly Monolithic, Those Responding to U.S. Catholic's Reader Survey Reveal, and That's a Good Thing. Activists, Nurses, Priests, and Parents Are All Needed to Create a Culture of Life
Hendrickson, Mary Lynn.
U.S. Catholic, Vol. 74, No. 11, November 2009
A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America
Grace Elizabeth Hale.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 8 "Rescue: Christian Outsiders in Action in the Anti-Abortion Movement"
Catholics and Politics: The Dynamic Tension between Faith and Power
Kristin E. Heyer; Mark J. Rozell; Michael A. Genovese.
Georgetown University Press, 2008
Pro-Life on Campus
Kelly, Lori Brannigan.
The Human Life Review, Vol. 29, No. 3, Summer 2003
The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right
Jon A. Shields.
Princeton University Press, 2009
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Deliberation and Abortion Politics"
The First Amendment and Specialty License Plates: The "Choose Life" Controversy
Bell, Stephanie S.
Missouri Law Review, Vol. 73, No. 4, Fall 2008
Souls, Bodies, Spirits: The Drive to Abolish Abortion since 1973
Kerry N. Jacoby.
Praeger, 1998
Pro-Choice and Anti-Abortion: Constitutional Theory and Public Policy
James R. Bowers.
Praeger, 1997
Killing for Life: The Apocalyptic Narrative of Pro-Life Politics
Carol Mason.
Cornell University Press, 2002
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