Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook

Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook

Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook

Abortion in the United States: A Reference Handbook

Excerpt

Debate. Controversy. Argument. Conflict. Struggle. Clash. Battle. War. All of these terms have been used to describe the status of the abortion issue in American society and politics, and it has been this way for nearly a half century. The conflict affects our legislatures, political parties, courts, churches, schools, hospitals—and even our foreign policy. And there is no other country where the battles over abortion are so intense and pervasive. What is this conflict? What are people fighting about? Where did it come from? Who are the players and where do they engage each other? Why is it so hard to settle? What are the effects on society and politics? This book describes the origins and changes in the conflict over abortion; the major combatants; what they are fighting about; the arenas for the conflicts; and the effects on politics, policy, and social debate. The purpose is to provide timely information to readers and resources for further exploration of the topic.

We start with the basics in Chapter 1. That means looking at the public history of abortion since the founding of the American republic, especially the campaign to criminalize the procedure during the nineteenth century. Then we see how the criminal laws became out of date in the mid-twentieth century, provoking a new campaign, this time for reform and repeal of these criminal laws. Roe v. Wade was the turning point in 1973. This decision legalized abortion but did not end the debate; in fact, it gave birth to the clashes we live with today. The pro-choice and pro-life movements are the big story after 1973. Movements are a combination of ideas called frames and members called activists. Chapter 1 concludes with a full presentation of the frames of both great crusades.

After an understanding of the basics, we are ready in Chapter 2 to delve into the war itself, battle by battle, showing winners . . .

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