What changes occurred within the anti-abortion movement as its leadership shifted from Catholics and to evangelical Protestants? How did the tactics and priorities of the movement change in this time and how did this reflect shifts in the attitudes towards women from the 1960’s to the 1980’s?
In twenty five years, the issue of abortion has triggered the attention and reaction of religious groups, which keeps on dictating the politics of the U.S. It has generated a conflict between the conservatives and liberals and most significantly, it has generated a political as well as a cultural enlistment of evangelical America. Additionally, it formed the basis to justify disjointing of the church from the state. Anti-abortion activism, is analyzed chronologically through the eyes of the two journalists. It can be traced to the post-Vietnam war protests of the catholic movement, which had as social concern of the issue of abortion and its role in establishing religious right. Anti-abortion movements are dated back during the catholic opposition to any act of killing during the antiwar protests of 1960s (Hauerwas 64 & 65).
The abortion extremist could bomb clinics and kill medical practitioners in order to curb abortion in America. This was an extreme violence in opposing abortion resulting to assaults and killings of abortion practitioners. The decision made by the U.S Supreme Court in January 22, 1973 by Roe V. Wade legalized abortion in every state. He argued that in the first trimester, the patient and the doctor could decide on the fate of the baby. In the second trimester, the state can decide depending on the mother’s health but in the third trimester, the state can illegalize abortion with specific exceptional (Hunt 124). His court ruling established the antiabortion movement especially in states the legalized abortion. The protests became the “America’s most volatile, most divisive and most irreconcilable debate since slavery” (Risen & Thomas 3) since 1960s antiwar- protest, which spread to the cities and compasses in America, thus initiating a national wide abortion rights policy. Roe divided America politically, religiously and historically through legalizing abortion creating pre-Roe and Post-Roe periods and also caused antiabortion extremism in The U.S, although it is not clear if a court decision would trigger large-scale protests as opposed to approval by legislature (Rise & Thomas 265).
However the battle was not successful in illegalizing abortion irrespective of its national wide status and power due to extreme radicalism characterizing the protests (Schildt 42). The movement fragmented with two distinct sides; one of which was non-violent headed by Roy O’Keefe who adhered to catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement through civil disobedience acts meant to illegalize abortion (Risen & Thomas 78). While the other side proposed violent approach led by Michael Bray, a follower of Dominion Theology and a Calvinist and very instrumental in facilitating violence through justifying it theologically resulting to domestic terrorism. The Roy O’Keefe Catholic pacifists’ approach was out-one by the violent side of the protest. Extremists were geared at saving women thorough a process dubbed ‘operations rescue’ (Rise & Thomas 215). Violence and murder heightened such as that which happened in 1993 through shooting of abortion practitioner, David GJunn by Michael Griffith, an anti-abortion extremist (Risen & Thomas 339).
This acts altered the perception and direction of anti-abortion movement, which triggered an open debate where activists questioned the use of violence in dealing with the issue. A new social protest based on religion was thus created by this cohesion in the United States headed by protestant fundamentalist, which was culturally isolated but became a powerful political force. According to Rise & Thomas, “a new, religion-based social protest movement was born, one that drew Protestant Evangelicals out of their churches and to the barricades. These activists set out to transform the law, but in the process they transformed themselves, transformed their theological beliefs, and ended generations of isolation” (300). This happened irrespective of the fact that the anti-abortion movement was initiated during anti-war protest led by catholic peace activists. The protestant fundamentalist triggered political ideologies for once in over half a century thorough evangelical America, which changed the cultural perception of women and that of the social protests (Chapman 458).
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