US Abortion Debates 1959–1998: The Women's Movement Holds on

Dorothy McBride Stetson

in Abortion Politics, Women's Movements, and the Democratic State

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780199242665
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600258 | DOI:

Series: Gender and Politics

 US Abortion Debates 1959–1998: The Women's Movement Holds on

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The first major abortion debates in the United States—in Roe vs. Wade legalizing abortion in the first 24 weeks and the Hyde Amendment denying funding—established the terms of conflict over the issue: right to life of the foetus versus women's right to seek and choose abortion services. These debates also constructed two great social movements which have confronted each other ever since. Although women's movement and pro‐choice forces form an alliance that has successfully maintained access to legal abortion, the pro‐life movement has robbed them of energy and time to achieve full reproductive rights for women. In the latest skirmish over the ‘partial birth’ abortion ban, women's movement actors would have failed without the assistance of a Democratic president and his women's policy agency. Even so, their frame of activism has been narrowed to women's health.

Keywords: abortion law; Democratic party; foetal rights; Hyde Amendment; pro‐choice movement; pro‐life movement; Roe versus Wade; USA; women's movement; women's policy agency

Chapter.  8385 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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