The Government Taketh Away: The Politics of Pain in the United States and Canada

By Leslie A. Pal; R. Kent Weaver | Go to book overview

9
ABORTION

RAYMOND TATALOVICH

ABORTION IS THE PUREST EXAMPLE OF “SYMBOLIC” POLITICS, INVOLVING the imposition of what Kent Weaver and Leslie Pal call “value-focused” pain. Today the scope of conflict over abortion rages over the entire U.S. political system, touching every branch of the state and national governments and extending to acts of violence by political extremists. In the United States abortion has been an ongoing controversy for more than a quarter-century, whereas in Canada a serious political debate over abortion started in 1988 but pretty much ended after 1990. Why and how the Canadian political regime was able to neutralize an issue that exploded onto the American political scene with such intensity is the fundamental question to be addressed in this chapter.

While all “moral” conflicts involve symbolic pain, they may involve other kinds of loss imposition as well. There is an element of self-interest going beyond symbolism when the National Rifle Association opposes gun laws, because there are hundreds of millions of guns in the United States, and gun owners constitute a sizable number of Americans. In the case of abortion, however, in no year have more than 1.5 million American women gotten abortions—and given that the rallying cry of pro-choice does not directly affect men and that pro-life women presumably have no desire to abort their pregnancies, abortion does not involve the personal self-interest of most Americans, or even of most women. Indeed, abortion engages altruistic motivations, not self-interested ones, because both sides of the abortion

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The Government Taketh Away: The Politics of Pain in the United States and Canada
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • American Governance and Public Policy Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • List of Tables and Figures xi
  • 1 - The Politics of Pain 1
  • 2 - Cutting Old-Age Pensions 41
  • 3 - Controlling Health Care Costs for the Aged 71
  • 4 - Telecommunications Deregulation 107
  • 5 - Tobacco Control 137
  • 6 - Closing Military Bases 167
  • 7 - Siting Nuclear Waste 195
  • 8 - Gun Control 233
  • 9 - Abortion 263
  • 10 - Conclusions 293
  • Contributors 329
  • Index 333
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