Looking Back at Pro-Choice's Battles

(AP Photo/Doug Mills, file)

In this April 5, 1992 file photo, pro-choice demonstrators gather on the Ellipse near the White House in Washington. For many abortion-rights activists, the debate over health care reform has been frustrating, even disheartening, as they see their political allies on the defensive over the issue and their anti-abortion rivals on the attack. 

It's been 40 years since the Supreme Court's landmark decision over a woman's right to choose in Roe v. Wade. How has the landscape over the issue of abortion and the politics of  reproductive health changed since? Here's a round-up of our best coverage over the past decade on the changing climate, both in public opinion and in legislatures inside the Beltway and out, over abortion.

"For the ladies, the year’s sound track could have been a strangled gasp, followed by snorting and laughing out loud. The attacks on women’s health, on contraception, on abortion, on the definition of rape—it was all so over the top that very early on it seemed that the Republicans were determined to get out the ladies’ vote for the Democrats in 2012."

How a radical anti-abortion movement matured

If you’re going to slander the estimated 32,000 women a year who become pregnant after being raped, it’s probably not wise to do it on a Sunday, when it will lead the next week’s news coverage. 

Babies are adorable. Pictures of tiny fetuses are almost as adorable, tugging on our hearts. No one wants to be a killer. But for those first months, before “quickening,” that little blastocyst or embryo or even nascent fetus has no absolute claim on existence. Here’s who does: The living, breathing, walking, thinking, feeling woman. 

The notion that tax dollars shouldn't pay for abortions is an international aberration, an example of American exceptionalism run amok.

Why are anti-abortion legislators cutting essential funds for special-needs children? 

Most think that Planned Parenthood v. Casey upheld abortion rights, but it actually cleared the way for curbing them.

A common volley in the abortion debate: How would you like it if you were aborted?

Government must build abortion law around the needs of the one in three women who will get an abortion in her lifetime, not around criminally minded outliers like Sarah Catt.

Outside of the convention center, and around downtown Charlotte, are a handful of anti-abortion activists. It’s hard to miss them. They carry large signs plastered with graphic photos of dismembered fetuses and preach their message with loudspeakers:
“God is not pro-abortion.”
“The Lord will punish Obama for killing babies.”

The anti-abortion movement consistently declares that it is on the side of children and mothers. But when abortion restriction comes in the context of hurting kids and hurting mothers, backlash is likely, even in conservative states.

The fight over building permits for the Aurora, Ill. Planned Parenthood clinic is just one more example of how the fight over reproductive health is coming down to questions of infrastructure.

Just as the swing voters of 1978 and 1980 saw Democratic support for abortion as indicative of a broader Democratic identification with the 1960s counterculture, pro-choice moderates saw Republican opposition to abortion as evidence of the party's capture by the religious right. 


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