ABORTION POLITICS: Mutiny in the Ranks of the Right by Michele McKeegan

ABORTION POLITICS: Mutiny in the Ranks of the Right

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In an informative if partisan work, Planned Parenthood official McKeegan argues that the antiabortion forces--whose skillful focus on the issue aided Ronald Reagan's 1980 Presidential victory--have lost both their cohesiveness and the battle to ban abortion. McKeegan portrays abortion foes both as ""lacking substantial support among mainstream Americans"" and as hopelessly diverse, encompassing right-wing evangelical Protestants and liberal Catholics. She demonstrates how the Reagan Administration attempted to implement its antiabortion policy by undermining federally supported family-planning programs and appointing antiabortion federal judges. While this strategy enjoyed short-term success, the ideological differences within the diverse antiabortion coalition, MeKeegan says, gradually enervated it. The antiabortion factions agreed on the narrow issue of abortion but, according to the author, fundamental differences in philosopby emerged among them in the latter haft of the 1980's: Right-wing fundamentalists emphasized a more broadly conservative social agenda, while liberal Catholics espoused an ""ethic of life"" that would promote education and alleviation of poverty. These tensions have, in McKeegan's view, caused the virtual collapse of the conservative antiabortion consensus. Furthermore, she argues, a generation gap has emerged on this issue as younger voters show an increasing willingness to accept abortion rights. While recent judicial decisions indicate that the Supreme Court is willing to reexamine its holding in Roe v. Wade, McKeegan asserts that prohibition or criminalization of abortion may have become politically unacceptable. An adroit recounting of the abortion controversies of the 1980's and a seemingly accurate assessment of the demise of the antiabortion coalition.

Pub Date: July 6th, 1992
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan