Pro Choice Vs Pro Life Politics
Social Movement Organizations in the Polity Model. Between the years of 1957 and 1959 in the United States, the first abortion law was enacted. From even before this time, and until today, abortion has become part of the political arena and has brought many arguments into the pro-choice versus pro-life movement. Some key organizations have been established with efforts to promote and fight for pro-choice or pro-life policies and access to resources benefiting their struggle. Some of these organizations do not necessarily fight against each other, but they represent opposing sides of the movement. Social movement organizations play a big role and take firm stance on their beliefs and values and take action locally, through the state and nationally in order to obtain representation and influence decisions in their favor.
The view of pro-choice supporters does not necessarily mean pro-abortion. Buchannan (2009) argues "that the matters of reproductive rights and responsibilities are most appropriately left to the woman who is pregnant, her religious and moral conscience and her physician." This is the view of many pro-choice supporters. In addition, pro-choice organizations take action to obtain and maintain freedom of choice and access to safe abortion services across the country, such that of the National Organization for Women (NOW). It is important to understand that the position to support this does not necessarily reflect that they are for abortion. They fight to allow women to make personal decisions, after becoming aware of potential risks of abortion. Other services include awareness and contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies in order to avoid abortion. Planned Parenthood is an organization that provides these types and other services. Another key organization with similar views was established in 1969, the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL). Since then they have changed their name to the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League. The efforts of these organizations can be seen through court battles, protest and public demonstrations, and lobbying. Furthermore, their actions are not necessarily aimed at opponent organizations, rather in support of the movement itself and vice versa.
Pro-life organizations come from different backgrounds and with different views but essentially take action to support the same movement. Ultimately, these organizations want to protect the innocent human life. However, some pro-life supporters agree that there can be an exception when the mother's health is at risk. In order to prevent potential health risks, the American Medical Association campaigned against abortions because of the high rate of "quackery." In 1973, the National Right to Life Committee was founded as a response to the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade. Influenced by biblical practices, some believe that life begins at conception and ends at death so they take action to support the pro-life movement. The Concerned Women for America organization has this view. Similar to the pro-choice movement, there have been many successes of the pro-life movement that contribute to this never ending debate.
One major contributor to the pro-choice movement is the National Organization for Women. Betty Friedan and a few other women founded NOW in 1966. According to Analoyce Clapp (2009) a founder of NOW, "28 women met to set up a temporary organization for this purpose: To take action to bring women into full participation in the mainstream of American society now, assuming all the privileges and responsibilities thereof in truly equal partnership with men." NOW is the nation's largest organization of feminist activist. They are made up of over 500,000 members. NOW takes action in support of the pro-choice movement. According to NOW, "it is the women's right when and whether to have children." With efforts to achieve equality for all women, NOW emerged in court battles to change and maintain policies in favor of 'choice.' In 1994, the U. S. Supreme Court voted that the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act) can be used against violent anti-abortion protesters blocking clinics. This was a famous case of NOW vs. Scheidler. NOW was also a big representative of the pro-choice movement opposing government actions. Former President Bush Jr. reinstated the Partial Birth Abortion Ban4 and supported other policies against abortion. NOW was a lead organizer in the 2004 March for Women's Lives, one the Washington D.C. biggest demonstrations. They walked the streets in opposition to Bush's actions and the policies against abortion. This march brought over 1 million protestors together including members from the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
NARAL was established in 1969. They also participated in the March for Women's Lives in order to "keep abortion legal" as some of their protest signs read. They advocate for women's right to personal privacy and freedom of choice. In addition to public demonstrations, they take action against policies and anti-abortion campaigns. They fight for the "right to safe and legal abortions" and "promote policies that help prevent unintended pregnancies." NARAL has a major influence on government actions such as the passing of FOCA, Freedom of Choice Act of 1992 and the FACE, Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act of 2004. NARAL's main opponents were the pro-life opinions and decisions of Congress and the pro-life government candidates. Furthermore, their work was key in increasing supporters of then-Governor Bill Clinton as "the first fully pro-choice president." The actions of NARAL enabled organizations like Planned Parenthood to provide access to abortions and reproductive services.
Margaret Sanger (1995:246) founder of Planned Parenthood states, "the attitude of American law and 'public opinion' on the subject of abortion is about 1,000 years behind..." In 1916 Sanger and her sister opened the first illegal abortion clinic in Brooklyn, NY. This was the beginning of Planned Parenthood. Today they focus their efforts on the following American issues: removing restrictions on abortion access, expanding the number of abortion providers, and ensuring access to confidential health care for young women. They are the nation's leading "sexual and reproductive health care providers and advocate." Planned Parenthood advocates for women against anti-choice organizations and legislative restrictions on abortion through ballot measures and court battles. For example, Planned Parenthood argued that the state of Pennsylvania made provisions to the Abortion Control Act that were unconstitutional in the famous Planned Parenthood of Southern Pennsylvania vs. Casey case of 1992. Some of these provisions included spousal notification, parental consent, informed consent (doctors provide women with abortion health risks information), 24 hour waiting period before abortion, and certain reporting requirements of abortion providers. Ending in a split decision, the Supreme Court ruled and four of the provisions were upheld and one was ruled out. Planned Parenthood, NOW and NARAL are pro-choice organizations that take action to allow the choice to have an abortion and stand up against organizations and policies that try to steal them from their ability to 'choose.'
The pro-life movement can date back to issues during the late 1800's and early 1900's. The American Medical Association (AMA) was founded in 1847 with efforts to "promote the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health." It is comprised of many doctors and other professionals. Their campaign against abortions initiated as rising a concern of the rate of "quackery." "Quacks" were untrained individuals, who claimed to be doctors, when indeed possessed no medical skills. "Quacks" performed abortions among other services. It was more likely that poorer women, due to lack of money, would result to abortions from "Quacks" for low cost. This in turn resulted in many unsafe abortions. AMA members wanted to end these practices. For over a half-century, the AMA condemned abortion and "maintained publicly a united front" (Olasky 1995). Furthermore, medical science recognized that life existed before quickening. This made connections to religious aspects like Olasky (1995:250) argues "anti-abortion laws, however, were frankly anti-choice; they were based on the belief that God, not individuals, did the judging, and that abortion should be stopped whenever possible."
Another organization impacting the pro-life movement was founded in 1978, the Concerned Women for America (CWA). CWA is the "nation's largest public policy women's organization to bring biblical practices into public policy." They confront many American issues including the ban of abortions. CWA supports the protection of all innocent human life from conception until natural death. They take a public stance against pro-choice organizations. According to Schoenig (2001:224) Christians believe that "at the moment of conception God provides an immortal soul to each fertilized human egg, thereby entitling it to full moral protection." Under these grounds, the CWA is working to see laws passed to protect our society from practices and policies that "endanger or debase innocent human life and increase in public awareness of the harm of abortion." Beverly LaHaye, founder of CWA initiated the founding in response to NOW who at a conference in San Diego, claimed she spoke for "all women." Similarly, the National Right to Life Committee was founded as a response to the Supreme Court decision, a major turn for pro-choice abortion supporters, of Roe vs. Wade.
In 1973, the Roe vs. Wade decision ruled in favor of abortion and granted legal access to abortions. It sparked the start of the National Right to Life Committee. They are the nation's largest organization in support of the right to life/pro-life including over 3,000 chapters nation-wide. The ultimate goal of the NRLC is "to restore legal protection to innocent human life." They take action against pro-life campaigns with efforts to ban abortion. Their representation and action for pro-life decisions has prevailed in the movement. On December 10, 1997, Fortune Magazine declared the NRLC the tenth most powerful public interest group in the country. The participation of NRLC has been instrumental in achieving some legislative reforms on a national level including, "a ban on non-therapeutic experimentation of unborn and newborn babies, a federal conscience clause guaranteeing medical personnel the right to refuse to participate in abortion procedures, and various amendments to appropriations bills which prohibit (or limit) the use of federal funds to subsidize or promote abortions in the United States and overseas." The efforts of pro-life organizations life CWA, AMA and NRLC in collaboration with political figures make decisions that can make pro-choice organizations feel repressed and underrepresented, feeding them ammunition for their movement.
The relationship between the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Christian Fundamentalist can best be described through the Polity Model. The Christian Fundamentalist played a big part in the re-election of Bush Jr. in 2004. In return, Bush continues to support them and other pro-life organizations/supporters through the Bush's Faith Based Initiative. This initiative funds religious organizations to provide social services without having to meet the same standards or abide by the same rules and regulations as non-religious organizations. Moreover, the current president can influence the decisions that will be made. For example, a pro-life president opens the door to pro-life decisions and may increase the access to resources for the pro-life movement and essentially, make it difficult for the pro-choice supporters. Fried (2006:232) argues that Bush's "appointments to high-level cabinet and agency positions and nominations for federal judgeships include people who oppose abortion and contraception, and who have also drawn opposition from civil rights and other social justice advocates." In accordance to the Polity Model, the government (Bush administration) and the member group (Christian Fundamentalist) amongst many others have formed an alliance in support of the pro-life movement. Their actions against abortion suppress NOW and what they stand for and fight for. Fried (2006:233) adds "in addition to doing what he can through appointees, budget appropriations and executive order, Bush has assured opponents of abortion that he will continue to sign all of the restrictive laws that Congress passes. His track record speaks for itself." In response, NOW will protest and challenge the actions that have taken place. The March for Women's Lives was the largest public demonstration in American history with effort to challenge the repressors. While the Christian Fundamentalist enjoys the resources that come along with supporting Bush, NOW is not. They are fighting to gain access to that power and influence change in favor of the pro-choice movement.
The pro-choice organizations discussed in this paper fight for the right to access to legal abortions and for women's freedom of personal choice. The pro-life organizations, through different perspectives fight to protect the innocent human life. The pro-choice vs. pro-life movement continues to be a controversy today and will be into the future. People will continue to see the actions of these organizations in court battles, through public demonstrations and in the law and political arena. For some of these organizations to be successful in their movement, they need to partner up with other organizations and/or political figures. In this argument, issues such as religion, the constitution, rights, and personal beliefs influence decisions. As time progresses there will be different presidents that play a major role in these types of decisions. Thus, the pro-choice vs. pro-life movement will continue its existence on the battlefield.
Article name: Pro Choice Vs Pro Life Politics essay, research paper, dissertation