Background on Abortion

Basic terminology of the abortion debate

New issues for the 2020 campaign

New issues for the 2016-2018 campaigns

New issues for the 2012 campaigns

Roe v. Wade

The essence of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision is that Constitutional rights apply only after birth; hence abortion does not breach a person’s right to life. States cannot regulate 1st trimester abortions; states can regulate but not ban 2nd trimester abortions; and states can ban 3rd trimester abortions (as many have).

Planned Parenthood v. Casey

The “Casey” decision refers to the 1992 Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey. The Supreme Court upheld the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision which established the right to an abortion, but allowed restrictions on abortion. The Court cited the right to privacy, as well as “stare decisis,” which means that a longstanding legal precedent should not be overturned without a good reason.

Fetal Viability

The debate on abortion generally focuses on when human life begins. The courts often focus on ‘viability’, the point at which the fetus could survive outside the womb.
- Viability naturally begins at about 6 months of pregnancy, but with modern medical advances the age of viability is pushed back substantially.
- Strong pro-life advocates believe that the fetus should be protected from the moment of conception.

Abortion Legislation

Stem Cell Research

Related Legislation

  • ‘Clinic Access’ laws refer to what pro-life protesters may and may not do at the entrances to abortion clinics, and how far away they must stay. Clinic access became an issue after several abortion clinics were bombed and several abortion doctors were shot in recent years.
  • ‘RU-486’ is a drug that induces abortion in early pregnancy. In September 2000, after 12 years of study, the FDA approved the use of RU-486 until the 7th week of pregnancy.
  • ‘Cloning’ is a rapidly advancing technology in which a fetus develops from only one parent. It has been successful in animals, and is entering trial stages with humans. Pro-life advocates generally oppose cloning on the same basis that they oppose abortion.

    Buzzwords in the abortion debate

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    Pro life moral perspective
    Pro life medical/legal perspective
    Pro choice policy perspective
    Pro choice doctor's perspective
    Pro stem cell research policy perspective
    Anti stem cell research philosophical perspective
    Pro stem cell research legislative perspective

    References and sources:
    America Magazine, "Erasing Margaret Sanger from Planned Parenthood doesn't change abortion's eugenic logic," by Serrin M. Foster & Damian J. Geminder, July 22, 2020
    Guttmacher Institute, "Understanding Planned Parenthood's Critical Role in the Nation's Family Planning Safety Net," by Kinsey Hasstedt, January 12, 2017
    Science Magazine, "New U.S. ethics board rejects most human fetal tissue research proposals", by Meredith Wadman, Aug. 18, 2020
    ABC News, "New U.S. ethics board rejects most human fetal tissue research proposals," by Meredith Wadman Aug. 18, 2020
    Science Magazine, "Here's what is known about Trump's COVID-19 treatment," by Jon Cohen, Oct. 5, 2020
    ACLU, "What's Wrong with Fetal Rights?" (downloaded Oct. 9, 2020)
    ABC News, "What Rights Do Unborn Children Have?" by Geraldine Sealey, January 7, 2006
    The Washington Times, "It's time to reclaim the 14th Amendment for unborn persons", by Rebecca Hagelin. February 3, 2019
    NPR on Hyde Amendment, "Clash Over Abortion Stalls Health Bill, Again," by Julie Rovner, March 21, 2018
    March For Life on Hyde Amendment, "5 Facts to Know About the Life-Saving Hyde Amendment," by Bethany Peck, September 25, 2017
    ACLU on Hyde Amendment, "Origins of the Hyde Amendment and Other Restrictions on Public Funding for Abortion," doenloaded Oct. 9, 2020
    CNN on ObamaCare, "HHS unveils new requirement for abortion coverage payments," by Caroline Kelly, December 20, 2019
    CNN on ObamaCare, "Federal judge blocks new requirement for abortion coverage payments," by Caroline Kelly, July 10, 2020, "The Mexico City Policy: An Explainer," Jun 29, 2020
    HRW, "Trump's 'Mexico City Policy' or 'Global Gag Rule'?," February 8, 2018
    USCCB, "The Importance of the Mexico City Policy: Testimony of the Conference of Catholic Bishops before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee," July 19, 2001
    Other candidates on Abortion: Background on other issues:
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    Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
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    Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
    Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
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    2020 Withdrawn Democratic Candidates:
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