The Politics of Fertility Control: Family Planning and Abortion Policies in the American States

The Politics of Fertility Control: Family Planning and Abortion Policies in the American States

The Politics of Fertility Control: Family Planning and Abortion Policies in the American States

The Politics of Fertility Control: Family Planning and Abortion Policies in the American States

Synopsis

A groundbreaking new book on American policy & human fertility control which reviews & analyzes policies & practices over the last thirty years in each of the fifty states. Arguing that morality politics has helped make fertility policies contentious & complex, McFarlane & Meier conclude that current policies are inadequate for addressing unintended pregnancies & even contribute to high abortion rates. The authors offer alternative public policy designed to be more effective in the future.

Excerpt

In handing down its Webster v. Reproductive Health Services decision in 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court not only permitted the states far more discretion in abortion policy; it also revealed itself as very much divided on the abortion issue. This case brought renewed interest to the study of abortion politics, and the ensuing scholarship has increased our understanding of abortion policy, federalism, and state politics. Both the field of public health and the discipline of political science have benefited from this work, and we are happy to be counted among the many contributors.

This book reflects our view that larger questions loom behind abortion politics. First of all, we consider nearly all induced abortions as sequelae to unwanted pregnancy, most of which can be avoided with effective contraception. Second, we contend that abortion politics are part of a larger political struggle about values, which we have termed morality politics.

Our focus here is on fertility control policies and politics, namely, those concerned with family planning and abortion. We also consider abstinence policies. We believe that to a large extent, the same political winds affect each. Our methods are both descriptive and analytic. We describe the disparate evolution of national policies toward contraception and abortion. We also describe how fertility control policies developed in the states and how they have been implemented. In analyzing these policies, we use models of policymaking, intergovernmental transfers, and policy implementation and, in so doing, demonstrate how these models can inform our understanding of fertility control policies. We also show how this substantive area can contribute to our understanding of American public policy.

Chapter I introduces the concept of fertility control and presents the overall theoretical framework for the study. Fertility control is viewed as part of a set of policies generally called morality policies. We argue that this concept is important because it determines how issues are framed and how policies are developed.

The contentiousness of late twentieth-century American fertility control politics has led many observers to conclude that this is a unique period in his-

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