ENGL 124 GCU The Abortion Debate in Reaction to The Modern Women’s Movement Discussion Select an issue that interests you that is rooted in an ideological argument. Abortion Debates issue attachedRead both sides of the argument carefully and take notes on the strengths and weaknesses you observe.Write a short response (3-4 paragraphs) that summarizes both sides of the issue and applies the four tests described in this lesson and in the textbook (readings attached). Which side comes out with the strongest argument and why? You will have to use clear evidence from the text to support your reading. Make sure to include the ideologies behind each argument. Published by CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.
Will the Supreme Court impose new restrictions?
nti-abortion activists have been lobbying heavily in
recent years in the nation’s state legislatures, which
since 2010 have passed more than 200 laws imposing new regulations on abortion. Supporters of the
procedure are challenging many of the new state laws in court,
contending they are unreasonable and prevent women — especially
poor women — from accessing safe, legal abortions. Proponents
of the laws say one of their primary goals is to test the limits of
the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.
meanwhile, the federal government is implementing its sweeping
health-care reform law, which requires health insurance plans to
cover contraception, leading two companies whose owners oppose
birth control on religious grounds to sue the government — a case
Advocates of legislation to restrict abortions rally on
July 8, 2013, at the Texas capitol in Austin. Since
lawmakers passed the controversial law last year,
many of the state’s abortion providers have shut
down. In recent years, state legislatures have passed
some 200 laws imposing new regulations on
abortions. A majority of U.S. voters continue to
support abortion rights.
the Supreme Court will hear this month. Anti-abortion activists say
they’ll bring their arguments to a receptive electorate in 2014, while
their opponents say polls show a majority of voters continue to
support abortion rights.
CQ Researcher • March 21, 2014 • www.cqresearcher.com
Volume 24, Number 12 • Pages 265-288
THE ISSUES ………………..267
CURRENT SITUATION ……..280
RECIPIENT Of SOCIETY Of PROfESSIONAL JOURNALISTS AwARD fOR
EXCELLENCE ◆ AmERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION SILvER GAvEL AwARD
THE NEXT STEP …………..287
• will the strategy of restricting abortions at the state
level lead to Roe v. Wade
• Does emergency contraception cause abortion?
• Should employers with religious objections be able to
exclude coverage for abortions and birth control expenses in company health
SIDEBARS AND GRAPHICS
By 1880 every state had
banned abortion, except to
protect the mother’s life.
In 1970, prompted by the
American medical Association,
states began to loosen their
A House bill calls for banning
abortions after the 20th week
Regional Divide on
Abortion support grew in
New England, declined in
South Central states.
Key events since 1973.
Compromise Remains Elusive in Abortion Debate
Politicians “benefit from keeping the divisiveness alive.”
Abortion Debate Takes to
“Choose Life” license plates
available in 29 states.
Abortion and the ACA
The Affordable Care Act’s
treatment of abortion services
is stirring controversy.
Republicans are seeking the
right tone on the abortion
issue to win votes.
ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR: Kathy Koch,
Thomas J. Colin
CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Brian Beary,
marcia Clemmitt, Sarah Glazer, Kenneth Jost,
Reed Karaim, Peter Katel, Robert Kiener,
Barbara mantel, Tom Price, Jennifer weeks
SENIOR PROJECT EDITOR: Olu B. Davis
EDITORIAL ASSISTANT: Ethan mcLeod
FACT CHECKERS: Eva P. Dasher,
michelle Harris, Nancie majkowski
INTERN: Kaya Yurieff
Abortion Rate at 38-Year
Abortions peaked in 1981 at
29 per 1,000 women.
Do abortion limits disproportionately harm low-income
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MANAGING EDITOR: Thomas J. Billitteri
SENIOR CONTRIBUTING EDITOR:
States Tighten Laws for
Abortion-rights advocates and
opponents see different aims.
States Limit Abortion
forty-two states limit when
women can get abortions.
March 21, 2014
Volume 24, Number 12
BY WILLIAM WANLUND
regulations for abortion clinics,
anti-abortion candidates for the
legislatures and shorter periods
he falls Church
during a pregnancy when legal
Healthcare Center is
abortions can be performed.
facing a financial criThe ultimate goal, the groups
sis, according to director Rosesay, is to test the limits of the
Supreme Court’s landmark deA state law enacted in 2011,
cision and possibly even get
she says, requires the small
the ruling overturned. AbortionNorthern virginia abortion
rights groups are suing dozens
clinic to abide by the same
of states over the laws, conbuilding and safety standards
tending they impose unreasonthat apply to new hospital
able demands on abortion
construction. She says reguproviders, making it more diffilations stemming from the law
cult for women to get safe, legal
will require $1.5 million in
and affordable abortion care.
renovations to the facility, such
further fueling the debate,
as enlarging a janitor’s utility
the federal government this year
closet, expanding laundry fais implementing its sweeping
cilities and upgrading heathealth-care reform law, which
ing, ventilation and air conrequires that health insurance
plans cover contraception. ComCodding is suing the state
panies with religious objections
over the regulations, arguing
to birth control are suing the
they are unreasonable and
government over the requireMembers of NARAL Pro-Choice America protest at a
hotel in Washington hosting a fundraiser for Republican
“include things that have abment, a case that will be arpresidential hopeful Mitt Romney on March 22, 2012.
solutely no impact on health,
gued before the Supreme Court
The protesters were objecting to Romney’s proposal to
patient safety or the welllater
this month and which some
stop federal support for the abortion rights/family
being of our small staff.” On
have far-reaching implanning group Planned Parenthood of America. The
Oct. 9 a judge rejected the
plications on the availability of
federal government’s sweeping, new health-care reform
law — dubbed Obamacare — requires that health
state’s effort to have Codbirth control.
insurance plans cover contraception. Later this month the
ding’s case thrown out; a cirPolls show most Americans
U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the law by
cuit court in Arlington, va.,
want abortion to be legal,
companies with religious objections to birth control.
is scheduled to hear the case
but regional differences in atApril 29.
titudes are growing. A Pew ReBut lawmakers who support such search Center survey conducted last July
Abortion-rights activists say the virginia law is among 205 similar mea- laws say they are designed to protect found that 54 percent of Americans say
sures enacted in 29 states since 2011 patients. “This is not about banning abortion should be legal in all or most
designed to restrict the number of abor- abortion in virginia,” Republican state circumstances, while 40 percent said it
tions performed in the United States. Sen. Jill Holtzman vogel said when the should be illegal all or most of the
The new laws — which, among other law was passed. “It is simply caring for time. Opposition to legal abortion was
things, require abortion providers to women who are about to have an in- highest — 52 percent — in the South
have admitting privileges and/or trans- vasive surgical procedure and creating Central states and lowest — 20 percent
fer agreements with local hospitals or an environment for them . . . to have — in New England, according to the
impose structural requirements on [the procedure] in a place that’s safe.” 2 survey. The disparity between the two
After decades of trying to get the regions has risen 19 percentage points
clinics — are partly responsible for
the more than 70 abortion facilities in Supreme Court to weaken its 1973 Roe since 1996. 3
30 states that have closed or stopped v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, opThe number of abortions performed
offering abortions since 2010, say op- ponents of abortion rights have turned each year has been declining since
their focus on the states, supporting new 2000 and fell 13 percent between 2008
ponents of the laws. 1
AFP/Getty Images/Paul J. Richards
March 21, 2014
States Limit When Women Can Get Abortions
Since the Supreme Court in 1992 allowed states to restrict abortions
after fetal viability, 42 states have enacted laws limiting when a
pregnant woman can get an abortion. A law pending in Mississippi
would be the most restrictive, banning abortions at 18 weeks of
pregnancy. Thirteen other states banned abortions as early as 20
weeks, but since medical professionals generally say fetal viability,
or survival, cannot occur before 23 weeks, several of those laws
already have been challenged in court and the cases are expected to
be appealed to the Supreme Court.
State Abortion Bans, by Length of Pregnancy
* Blocked by court order or litigation and not in effect.
** Awaiting final approval.
*** North Dakota and Arkansas passed 6-week and 12-week restrictions, respectively,
which were blocked by federal judges.
Source: “State Policies on Later Abortions,” Guttmacher Institute, March 1, 2014,
http://tinyurl.com/k83kfmk; see also Niraj Chokshi, “West Virginia’s legislature
passes a 20-week abortion ban,” The Washington Post, March 10, 2014,
http://tinyurl.com/lpzacw6; Jeff Amy, “Mississippi Senate passes amended 20-week
abortion ban,” The Associated Press, March 11, 2014, http://tinyurl.com/kmbpmg8;
Erik Eckholm, “Judge Blocks North Dakota Abortion Restrictions,” The New York
Times, July 22, 2013, http://tinyurl.com/msavshk.
and 2011 (the latest year for which
statistics were available), according to
a march report from the Guttmacher
Institute, a policy research organization that supports abortion rights. 4
Those numbers do not yet reflect
the impact of the new state laws, say
experts. A 2012 Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) report
attributed a 9 percent drop in preg-
nancy rates between 1990 and 2008 to
improved contraception and economic
instability. 5 But Carol Tobias, president of the anti-abortion organization National Right to Life (NRL), says
the abortion rate is falling because
“pro-life legislative efforts at the state
and federal level” have “raised awareness about the humanity of the unborn child.” 6
As for the new rules like the ones
Codding is challenging, a sensational
case in Pennsylvania last year heightened the debate over the need for
new regulations. Philadelphia abortion
doctor Kermit Gosnell was sentenced
to life in prison without parole in may
2013 after being convicted in the gruesome deaths of a patient and three
babies born alive during late-term abortions at a filthy clinic. 7
“for many years, abortion providers
have been treated as a special class,”
Tobias says. “They have hidden behind
the idea that . . . abortion should somehow be treated differently from other
surgical procedures. As a result, we end
up with situations . . . where abortionists are allowed to operate in substandard conditions that put women at risk.”
The new state regulations are “common-sense requirements” that mandate such things as improved sanitary
conditions, working emergency equipment and larger hallways and rooms
so emergency personnel can quickly
access patients in distress, says michael
New, a political scientist and adjunct
scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, a washington policy research
organization that opposes abortion.
But abortion-rights activists — who
call the new measures TRAP laws, for
targeted regulation of abortion providers
— say they are designed to make it
too expensive or logistically impossible for abortion clinics to stay open.
“The TRAP laws we are challenging
make it harder for good providers to
continue providing abortion services,
which means that women have less access to legal abortion,” says Julie Rikelman, litigation director at the Center
for Reproductive Rights, a New Yorkbased legal advocacy organization that
supports women’s access to abortion.
“TRAP laws are designed to seem benign, but they’re not.”
Jennifer Dalven, director of the Reproductive freedom Project at the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU),
says, “more and more, we are seeing
politicians pass laws that either directly ban abortion or are back-door
bans that purport to protect women’s
health but in fact are laws designed
to shut down women’s health centers
and outlaw abortion.”
In Texas, at least a third of the state’s
abortion providers, mostly in rural areas,
have stopped providing abortion services since the state passed one of
the country’s toughest abortion clinic
laws last year. Among other things, it
requires doctors performing abortions
to be accredited at a hospital within
30 miles of the abortion clinic. By march
of this year, only 24 abortion facilities
were still operating in Texas, a state
with a population of more than 26 million people. 8
The American medical Association
and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which oppose
the Texas law, wrote in a legal brief
that: “There is simply no medical basis
to impose a local admitting-privileges
requirement on abortion providers.” The
law “does not serve the health of women
in Texas, but instead jeopardizes
women’s health by restricting access to
abortion providers and denying
women well-researched, safe, evidencebased and proven protocols for the
provision of medical abortion.” 9
Abortion-rights supporters have challenged the Texas law in court, and
the fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
heard the case on Jan. 6. Both sides
expect the case to eventually reach
the Supreme Court. 10
A Bloomberg News investigation
found that abortion clinics have been
closing in record numbers across the
country since the new state laws went
into effect but that only about a third
of closings have been due to the new
laws. The rest closed due to demographic changes, declining demand,
industry consolidation, doctor retirements and crackdowns on unfit
providers, the news service said. 11
The warring sides in the abortion
debate are gearing up for an active
States Tighten Laws for Providers
At least 29 states in the past four years have enacted laws to regulate
abortion clinics that supporters say are designed to protect patients
and opponents say aim to make it more difficult for women to get safe,
legal and affordable abortions. Among other things, the laws require
that abortion clinic doctors have admitting privileges and transfer
agreements with local hospitals or require clinics to meet the same
structural standards as ambulatory surgical centers.
States with Recent Laws on Abortion Clinics
Source: “Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers,” Guttmacher Institute, March 1,
2014 election season, as state legislature and congressional races get underway. Erika west, political director
of NARAL Pro-Choice America, a washington, D.C.-based advocacy organization that supports abortion rights,
told a press conference that, with national politics largely at a standstill due
to a highly polarized government, the
organization would focus on races for
state offices and support candidates
who advocate abortion rights. 12
But NRL’s Tobias thinks abortionrights proponents will face “an uphill battle” in trying to affect statelevel elections, given the recent
successes of anti-abortion groups in
getting states to adopt new abortion
laws. “People in the states are electing pro-life legislators because they
support pro-life laws.” 13
As supporters and opponents of
abortion rights carry their messages
into the 2014 election campaigns, here
are some key questions being asked:
Will the strategy of restricting
abortions at the state level lead
to Roe v. Wade being overturned?
In the 2010 mid-term elections, voters swept Republicans by the hundreds into state legislatures. Republicans won 675 new seats and wrested
control of 11 legislatures from Democrats, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).
After the elections, 25 state legislatures
were in GOP hands, and 11 governorships had flipped from Democratic
to Republican control. 14
It was a moment that James C. Bopp
Jr., a conservative Indiana lawyer and
March 21, 2014
general counsel for National Right to
Life, had been waiting for since 2007,
when he and law firm colleague
Richard E. Coleson wrote an 11-page
strategy memo for anti-abortion activists. The ultimate target was getting
Roe v. Wade overturned.
“Astute pro-life leaders . . . have
been working hard to get pro-life officials elected,” wrote Bopp and Coleson, so that “over the long term, there
might emerge a majority on the
Supreme Court willing to overrule Roe.
[That] has been a powerful motivator
for pro-life political activism.” 15
Encouraged by the prospect of a
more sympathetic Supreme Court and
emboldened by the wave of social
conservatives elected to state office,
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