mcdonagh+Adding+Consent - ADDING CONSENT TO CHOICE IN THE...

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18 SOCIETY JULY/AUGUST 2005 T he abortion debates are characterized by confronta- tion, sides polarized one against the other, as James Taranto notes in his essay on “The ‘Roe Effect’.” What is more, most agree, including Taranto, that Roe is a “study in unanticipated consequences.” In Taranto’s case, he defines that study as the “nexus between the practice of abortion and the politics of abortion.” Specifically, he analyzes the practical consequences of abortion as one that reduces the number of eligible liberal voters, which then has the unanticipated political consequence of reducing the number of voters who are likely to sup- port abortion rights. This linking of the practice of abortion with the poli- tics of abortion has generated concern among a number of prominent national analysts. At the forefront of these thinkers are not only those who look at the demographic consequences of the framing of abortion rights in Roe on the Due Process Clause guaranteeing individual pri- vacy in relation to the state, but also journalist William Saleten. In his perceptive book, Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War, he buttresses the view of those, such as Taranto, who see the advantage in the abortion debates tipping inexorably toward the pro-life side. In the case of Saletan, however, he attributes the un- anticipated positive consequences for opponents of the Roe decision as due to the failure of pro-choice activist groups, such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) to develop a proactive vision of women’s reproductive rights. Instead, he argues, even the most staunchly pro-choice activist groups were cast early on into reactive, defensive positions, developed as a serial response to the politics of the moment, the day, or the place of particular campaigns. The result was that, beginning in 1986 in Arkansas, when Bill Clinton was governor, groups such as NARAL repackaged abor- tion rights to appeal to conservative voters. Abortion rights activists, “instead of talking about women’s rights . . . portrayed abortion restrictions as an encroachment by big government on tradition, family, and property.” The consequence of this political tactic has not been a ADDING CONSENT TO CHOICE IN THE ABORTION DEBATE Eileen McDonagh winner in the long run for abortion rights. Rather, this tactic created a political situation in which the “people who hold the balance of power in the abortion debate are those who favor tradition, family, and property.” More than merely demographic change is at work in swinging the tide in the abortion debates to the conser- vative right. Conservatives have won, and liberals have lost the abortion debate, according to Saletan, because of the way abortion rights were politically framed, not by pro-life advocates, but rather by pro-choice femi- nists. To correct this situation, we need more than an adjustment in birth rates, as Taranto suggests. Rather, we need a reframing of the abortion right so as to
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This note was uploaded on 11/10/2011 for the course POLI SCI 790:395 taught by Professor Daniels during the Spring '11 term at Rutgers.

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mcdonagh+Adding+Consent - ADDING CONSENT TO CHOICE IN THE...

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