The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History

By Eva R. Rubin | Go to book overview

mental view of teen-age sexual behavior, and his willingness to approve convenience methods of birth control that require explanation. The remainder of the population holds views that are generally in line with existing traditional and legal norms of sexual behavior and pronatalist constraints. These norms, to an observer, may well appear incompatible with many of the economic and status interests of the individuals they affect. Thus it is easy to see, for example, that many women and poor people would be "better off" with no children, or few children, or fewer children than they have. What is perhaps less apparent is that the norms supporting such reproductive behavior are in line with, and, indeed, a part of the many noneconomic goals and interests of most of the population--in particular, a commitment to family roles and rewards. . . .


Views Held by Catholics on Abortion

Let us now examine the views held by Catholics. In general, they disapprove of legalizing abortion more than non-Catholics, but the difference is less than might be expected when one considers that the Catholic Church unconditionally bans the induced termination of pregnancy. The largest differences between Catholics and non-Catholics occur with regard to justifications that are least disapproved by both religious groups--the mother's health and child deformity--because non-Catholics are so close to unanimous in their approval of these reasons for abortion. However, although not equaling the views of non- Catholics, the amount of disapproval by Catholics has decreased rapidly since the beginning of the decade. . . .


Conclusion

Our examination in this article of the opinions of various groups in the population on the legalization of abortion contradicts the conclusions usually drawn by those who argue on a priori ideological grounds that certain groups should support legalized abortion in the United States. According to the latter, abortion should be supported most strongly by the less advantaged and by women. Clearly, this is not the case. Legalized abortion is supported most strongly by the non-Catholic, male, well-educated "establishment." I have explained this finding in terms of the occupational and familial roles that such men play, in contrast with the roles performed by women in their own class, and by men and women in classes beneath them.

We may conclude, therefore, that changes in abortion laws, like most social changes, will not come about by agitation at the grass roots level, or by the activity of righteously indignant individuals who cannot currently circumvent existing statutes. Rather, it is to the educated and influential that we must look for effecting rapid legislative change in spite of conservative opinions among important subgroups such as the

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The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Publication/Copyright Page iv
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Advisory Board vi
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword xix
  • Introduction xxi
  • Part I - Before 1960 1
  • Abortion in Historical Context 3
  • Contraception and Abortion in America Before 1960 10
  • Bibliography 43
  • Part II - The Abortion Reform Movement (1960-1972) 45
  • The Reformers 47
  • Catalysts 68
  • Reform Activity in State Legislatures (1967-1972) 79
  • The Politics of State Legislative Reform (1967-1973) 82
  • Breakthrough in the Courts 89
  • The Abortion Situation Worldwide 100
  • Public Opinion 103
  • Conclusion 107
  • Philosophical Arguments for and Against the Liberalization of Abortion Laws 109
  • Bibliography 116
  • Part III - The 1973 Abortion Cases 117
  • The Law and the Cases 119
  • The Immediate Reaction to the Abortion Decisions 140
  • Bibliography 169
  • Part IV - The Battle Lines Are Drawn (1974-1980) 171
  • State Legislative Action and Judicial Response (1974-1980) 173
  • Amending the Constitution 189
  • Politics and Elections 219
  • Conclusion 223
  • Bibliography 231
  • Part V - The Reagan and Bush Administrations and Beyond (1980- ) 233
  • National Politics 237
  • State Legislation During the 1980s 267
  • New Issues and Problems 273
  • Bibliography 283
  • Epilogue - 1993 and After 285
  • Appendix A - Major Supreme Court Decisions Related to Abortion, 1973-1993 291
  • Appendix B - Chronology of Events in the Abortion Controversy 295
  • Index 303
  • About the Editor 312
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