Deadly Choice by Elizabeth Fox-Genovese

Feature

Deadly Choice

Abortion as a War Against Women

During the weeks leading up to the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, there seemed to have been more news and commentary about abortion than there had been for years. The anniversary always elicits a flurry of opinion, but 2003 was different, and not only because of the significance of the anniversary. For one thing, in George Bush we have a president who is not merely pro-life for reasons of political discipline or expediency but, as far as one can tell, for reasons of personal conviction—and faith. For another, Republican majorities, however slim, prevail in both the House and the Senate, and we will likely see one or more vacancies on the Supreme Court, not to mention other federal courts throughout the nation.

This new political configuration has emerged at a moment when one major piece of pro-life legislation (the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act) has been enacted, and other important bills are pending before Congress: the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (twice vetoed by President Clinton, and more recently stalled by Senator Daschle), the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, the Child Custody Protection Act, the RU-486 Patient Health and Safety Protection Act, and the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act. Notwithstanding the cries of panic and outrage from the pro-abortion forces—even the typically supercilious New York Times published a hysterical editorial on the demise of legal abortion—none of these bills will threaten the core of Roe v. Wade, although several undermine its logic. Presumably, the hyperbole of the pro-abortion forces derives in part from their fear of the slippery slope: If you diminish any aspect of unrestricted access to abortion, you open the door to its re-criminalization. But only in part.

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Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (d. 2007) was the Eleonore Raoul Professor of the Humanities and Professor of History at Emory University and a contributing editor of Touchstone. Her books include "Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life" (Anchor), Feminism Without Illusions (University of North Carolina Press), and, with her husband, The Mind of the Master Class (Cambridge University Press).

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