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Sociological Perspectives on Abortion

Essential to the understanding of liberalism is the belief that the left "cares about justice and human rights, while the right is obsessed with crabbed cultural preoccupations such as gay lifestyles, pornography, and traditional gender roles"(Neuhaus, 2009, p.68). With respect to abortion politics, conservatives are painted "as reactionaries to the civil rights movements rather than its heirs" and as unconcerned with the rights of women, their health, or their need to control their own bodies (Neuhaus, p.68). This unfortunate posture enables the pro-choice movement to promote their abortion agenda without regard to the science involved in taking the life of a fetus.

Sociological Perspectives on Abortion

"The Port Huron Statement issued by the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1962 called for a participatory democracy in which...society would be transformed by bringing moral...questions to the center of political life" (Neuhaus, p.68). In his book, The Democratic Virtues of the Christian Right, Jon Shields, a political scientist at Claremont McKenna College writes: "some 45 percent of respondents in the Citizens Participation Survey who reported participating in a national protest did so because of abortion. What is more, nearly three quarters of all abortion-issue protesters are pro-life, an unsurprising fact given that the pro-life movement is challenging rather than defending the current policy regime. Meanwhile, all other social issues, including pornography, gay rights, school prayer, and sex education, account for only 3 percent of all national protest activity" (Shields, 2009; Neuhaus, 2009, p.68).

This information is significant given the pro-choice view of conservatism has homo-phobic and unconcerned with women's health issues or rights. In 1969, Theodore Lowi wrote The End of Liberalism, describing a political system "deprived of conflict over great moral principles" (Neuhaus, 2009, p.70). At the time Lowi saw American politics as dominated by vague "interest-group bargaining" that was mostly impotent to illicit change (Neuhaus, p.70). If one could say that the present political system "was largely engineered by 1960s liberals" the abortion issue could be one demonstration of a present-day conservative war on those very politics (Neuhaus, p.70). The 1960's liberalism has developed such an anti-conservative agenda, that those still embracing conservative views appear draconian by contrast (Neuhaus). Pro-choice proponents "routinely cite data indicating that a majority of Americans do not want to see Roe overturned" and yet these same Americans believe that Roe created a restrictive abortion policy" (Neuhaus, 2009, p.70). However, some sociologists agree that legal illiteracy may be the reason for the contradictions (Neuhaus). "Roe permits abortion in the first trimester, allows it for serious reasons in the second, and forbids it in the third" and this seems reasonably unrestrictive (Neuhaus, 2009, p.70). However, when compared to the law "presently imposed by the Supreme Court" that allows "abortion at any time for any reason and up through the fully formed baby emerging halfway out of the birth canal" one could then agree that, in comparison, Roe is essentially tame. Harvard law professor Mary Ann Glendon wrote, "it is the most permissive abortion regime in the Western world" and from a societal standpoint abortion on demand will remain in force for as long people remain ignorant of the law (Neuhaus, 2009, p. 70).

Neuhaus, R. J. (2009). The pro-life movement as the politics of the 1960s. First Things,(189), 67-70. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1622565301).
Petroni, S., & Skuster, P. (2008). The Exportation of Ideology: Reproductive Health and Rights in U.S. Foreign Policy. Human Rights, 35(1), 9-12. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1588001151).
Robertson, E., & Mckelway, B. (2009). Zelda K. Nordlinger, feminist activist, dies: Richmonder inspired in 1960s fought for women's rights and abortion rights. McClatchy - Tribune Business News, 1.Retrieved June 16, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Dateline database. (Document ID: 1449269511).
Vic: Abortion report reignites debate. (2009). AAP General News Wire,1. Retrieved June 16, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1486253981).

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