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March 26, 2016
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1 Introduction
Anti-abortion movement



Image:Pro-life protest.jpg|right|thumb|350px|Anti-abortion demonstrators at the "March for Life" in Washington, D.C. on January 22, 2002.
The anti-abortion movement is a Social movement|political movement opposed to abortion. Those within the movement seek to restrict or prohibit some or all abortions. Some involved in the movement also hold positions on other issues in bioethics and reproductive rights, such as opposing birth control, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research and human cloning.

While "anti-abortion" is the neutral term most often used in news accounts, many people within the movement prefer to call their beliefs "pro-life" or "right-to-life", names that began to appear in the early 1960s. This designation is a controversial, perhaps even loaded term|loaded, term because it takes for granted that an embryo or fetus qualifies as a full living human, complete with concomitant human rights. This assumes precisely the point that is in controversy, in that many would say that a fertilized egg does not deserve the same consideration as a woman. The term is also ambiguous with regard to whether quality of life or quantity of life is at issue, and even seems to imply that the alternative is "anti-life" or even "pro-death", both of which sound monstrous. Specifically, it appears to imply that abortion is homicide or even murder.

In response to this, those in the abortion-rights movement have accepted the label of pro-choice, which reflects their support for the woman's legal right to choose whether or not to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. This is consistent with the possibility that someone is against abortion but supports the woman's right to choose. Some in this movement even reverse the term so as to brand the anti-abortion movement as anti-choice, which is factually correct.

While opinions on abortion vary within political and religious groups as well as among them, the anti-abortion movement in the United States is generally associated with conservative, traditional religion. It is the official policy of the Roman Catholic church|Roman Catholic to oppose abortion (along with all forms of birth control except for fertility awareness), along with other acts that the church considers contrary to the dignity of human life. However, not all practicing Catholics or even clergy agree with the Pope on this matter. While there is no equivalent central authority among Protestants, Fundamentalist Christianity|Fundamentalist churches in specific, and the Christian right in general, churches are a key part of the anti-abortion movement. There are others from outside the religious right community, who are generally socially conservative, but it is fair to say that the bulk of people involved in the anti-abortion movement cite their religious beliefs as the basis for their stance.

Anti-abortion is not a simple yes-or-no issue; there are shades of gray. In fact, the mildest levels of opposition to abortion are not even in conflict with the pro-choice movement. For example, many desire to lower the number of abortions that are performed, generally using methods that focus on the prevention of unwanted pregnancies through better sex education and increased availability of contraception. Even some people who support abortion in the first two trimesters oppose late-term abortions. Finally, some are personally opposed to abortion and would not have one themselves or recommend it to anyone who asked, but feel that they ought not limit the rights of others on this matter.

Even among those whose opposition to abortion is strong enough to conflict with the pro-choice movement, there is some variation. Hard-liners directly equate abortion with murder and oppose it in all cases, except perhaps if the woman's life is in serious risk. In this category, some likewise make an exception for severe fetal deformities. Others make exceptions when the pregnancy was due to no fault of the woman, as in cases of rape and incest. While this is milder, it may raise the question of why the choice to have sex should take away the choice to abort.

Finally, there is the issue of mandatory notification and consent. Some would require that a pregnant minor not be allowed to abort her pregnancy without the notification or even consent of a guardian. Likewise, some would require notification or even consent by the husband or the biological father. These sorts of restrictions are often seen within the pro-choice movement as a veiled attempt to limit access to abortion by putting the woman's social standing and even safety at risk. In a number of states, laws have been passed to support these restrictions, though often with the right of judicial oversight.

If a woman does not terminate an unwanted pregnancy and is unable or unwilling to raise the resultant child, there is the option of giving the child up for adoption. Interestingly, there are movements within conservative Christian groups that encourage adopting and fostering children so as to raise them as good Christians and thus save their souls. In this way, restrictions on abortion rights may indirectly serve to increase the power and wealth of churches.

Some people opposed to abortion have used terrorism to further their cause, including violent acts (including killings) against physicians who have performed abortions. However, these are very much fringe groups within the larger anti-abortion movement.

Those in the anti-abortion movement are often criticized for calling themselves "pro-life" in the context of reproductive rights while holding positions that are at odds with that designation on other "life"-related issues, such as support for capital punishment, support for war, opposition to social welfare, universal health insurance and government-sponsored health care plans. One such critic, United States House of Representatives|U.S. Representative Barney Frank, characterized this approach as the view that "life begins at conception and ends at birth."

Those in the movement do not see their stance as contradictory; some answer the criticism by supporting the "consistent life ethic."

Some critics, such as Thomas Frank, argue that anti-abortion politicians use moral issues such as abortion to distract voters from their economic concerns. In addition, liberalism in the United States|liberal critics often claim that many who claim the title are not truly interested in preventing abortions, citing their opposition to some forms of sexual education and some forms of (and access to) birth control (especially emergency contraception).

Image:PBAsigning wide.jpg|300px|thumb|right|Ten anti-abortion Congress of the United States|U.S. congressmen (eight Republican Party (United States)|Republicans and two Democratic Party (United States)|Democrats) were present at the ceremony where U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law.

  • Pro-Life

  • List of anti-abortion people

  • Abortion-rights movement–opposed to the anti-abortion movement

  • Morality and legality of abortion–overview

  • Religion and abortion–overview

  • "Culture of life"–rhetorical term

  • Evangelium Vitae ("Gospel of Life")– a Encyclical|papal encyclical written by Pope John Paul II

Category:Political movements
Category:Social justice

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Anti-abortion movement".

Last Modified:   2005-12-23

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