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Pro-life protesters at Parliament Square, London on 20 May 2008.

The pro-life movement is a political and social movement focused chiefly around opposition to abortion, and support for the legal banning of elective abortion. Those involved in the movement generally maintain that human fetuses and embryos are persons, and therefore have a right to life. People involved in the movement may also be associated with opposition to euthanasia, the death penalty, human cloning, and research involving human embryonic stem cells. The pro-life movement is commonly supported among Christians. On the issue of abortion, pro-life campaigners are opposed by pro-choice campaigners, who generally advocate for what they see as women's reproductive rights.

Contents

Overview

Pro-life individuals generally believe that human life should be valued either from fertilization or implantation until natural death. The contemporary pro-life movement is typically, but not exclusively, associated with Christian morality (especially in the United States), and has influenced certain strains of bioethical utilitarianism.[1] From that viewpoint, any action which destroys an embryo or fetus kills a person. Any deliberate destruction of human life is considered ethically or morally wrong and is not considered to be mitigated by any benefits to others, as such benefits are coming at the expense of the life of a person. In some cases, this belief extends to opposing abortion of fetuses that would almost certainly expire within a short time after birth, such as anencephalic fetuses. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are also opposed by many pro-life people based on a belief that all human life is sacred and must be protected.

Some pro-lifers oppose certain forms of birth control, particularly hormonal contraception such as ECPs, which prevent the implantation of an embryo. Because they believe that the term "pregnancy" should be defined so as to begin at fertilization, they refer to these contraceptives as abortifacients.[2] The Catholic Church endorses this view,[3] but the possibility that hormonal contraception has post-fertilization effects is disputed within the scientific community. (See also: Mechanism of action and United States legal and ethical controversies.)

Attachment to a pro-life position is often but not exclusively connected to religious beliefs about the sanctity of life (see also Culture of Life). Exclusively secular-humanist positions against abortion tend to be a minority viewpoint among pro-life advocates.[4] There is also a significant feminist element inside the pro-life movement.[5]

Religion and Pro-Life Movements

The variety in opinion on the issue of abortion is reflected in the diverse views of religious groups. For example, the Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion under almost all circumstances, while traditional Jewish teachings sanction abortion as a means of safeguarding the life and well-being of the pregnant woman.[6]

Christianity

Two people holding a pro-life sign at a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Estádio do Pacaembu in São Paulo, Brazil in 2007. Translation: "No to abortion". The rest of the crowd have both arms raised in a prayer gesture.
A monument to the unborn in Ste Geneviève, Missouri.

Much of the pro-life movement in the United States and around the world finds support in the Catholic Church, conservative and fundamentalist protestant denominations, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).[7][8][9][10] However, the pro-life teachings of these denominations vary considerably. The Eastern Orthodox Church considers abortion to be immoral in all cases. According to the Patriarchate of Moscow, all abortions are evil, but priests are told not to withhold communion from women who received an abortion because their life was at risk if the baby was born. The National Association of Evangelicals and the LDS Church oppose abortion on demand, but consider abortion allowable in cases with clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, dire threat to the life/physical health of the pregnant woman, or when a pregnancy results from rape or incest.[11] The Southern Baptist Convention believes that abortion is allowable only in cases where there is a direct threat to the life of the woman.[11] The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is immoral in all cases (See Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270-2275). Other mainstream protestant denominations such as the Episcopal Church, Disciples of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, Presbyterian Church, Quakers, and the United Church of Christ are pro-choice.[11]

Islam

Among Muslims, abortion is haraam or forbidden in most cases but may be permitted in extenuating circumstances. In the case where the woman's life is threatened by the pregnancy, Muslim jurists agree that abortion is allowed based on the principle that "the greater evil [the woman's death] should be warded off by the lesser evil [abortion]." In these cases the physician is considered a better judge than the scholar.[12] Additionally, some jurists consider an abortion within the first 120 days of the pregnancy permissible in extenuating circumstances.[13]

Hinduism & Sikhism

A vocal pro-life movement is small in India[14], the largest Hindu nation.[15] According to the BBC, traditional Hindu texts and teachings condemn elective abortions.[16] While the Sikh code of conduct does not directly deal with abortion, it is generally forbidden by religious leaders who argue that abortion interferes in the creative work of God.[17] Most abortions in India are done for sex selection, with boys being favored, resulting in significant skewing of the gender ratio.[18] As a result, anti-abortion activists in India are typically women's rights activists, as well as the religiously devout. In 2008, these activists took Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft to court, suing to remove web ads that sell products that enable parents to determine the sex of a fetus.[18]

Judaism

In Judaism, views on abortion draw primarily upon the legal and ethical teachings of the Hebrew Bible, the Talmud, the case-by-case decisions of responsa, and other rabbinic literature. In the modern period, moreover, Jewish thinking on abortion has responded both to liberal understandings of personal autonomy as well as Christian opposition to abortion.[19] Polls of Jews in America report that 88% of American Jews are pro-choice.[20] Prominent Jewish pro-life activist Michael Medved has said, "Jewish law for millennia has been extremely clear, that abortion is only permitted when the life of the mother is directly threatened... To link Jewish tradition to the pro-choice position is 'ludicrous and ignorant'."[20]

History and current activity of pro-life movements throughout the world

In the United States

Role of Roman Catholics in the creation of the pro-life movement

Before the Roe v. Wade decision making abortion legal in the United States, the pro-life movement in the United States consisted of elite lawyers, politicians, and doctors, almost all of whom were Catholic.[21] The only coordinated opposition to abortion during the early 1970s came from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Family Life Bureau, also a Catholic organization. Mobilization of a wide-scale pro-life movement among Catholics began quickly after the Roe v. Wade decision with the creation of the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC). The NRLC also organized non-Catholics, eventually becoming the largest pro-life organization in the United States.[21]

Role of Evangelicals

Randall Herbert Balmer, Ph.D., argues in his book, Thy Kingdom Come, that despite the popular belief that anti-abortion sentiments galvanized the fundamentalist evangelical movement, what actually galvanized the movement was evangelical opposition to the American Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The IRS stripped evangelical universities, like Bob Jones University, from their tax-exempt status for remaining racially segregated.[22][23][24]

Before 1980, the Southern Baptist Convention officially advocated for loosening of abortion restrictions.[25] During the 1971 and 1974 Southern Baptist Conventions, Southern Baptists were called upon "to work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother."[25] W. Barry Garrett wrote in the Baptist Press, "Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the [Roe v. Wade] Supreme Court Decision."[25]

By 1980, conservative protestant leaders became vocal in their opposition to legalized abortion[22], and by the early 1990s Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition of America became a significant pro-life organization.[26] In 2005, Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said that making abortion illegal is more important than any other issue.[27]

In Europe

Pro-life demonstation Each Life Matters in Madrid, Spain, on 17 October 2009.

Most European countries have active pro-life movements.

In Israel

In Israel, the major pro-life organization is Efrat.[29] Efrat activists primarily raise funds to relieve the "financial and social pressures" on pregnant women so that they will not terminate their pregnancies.[29] Efrat is not known to do any other kind of activism.[29]

"Consistent Life Ethic"

A major stated goal within the pro-life movement is to "restore legal protection to innocent human life."[30] This protection would include fetuses and embryos, persons who cannot communicate their wishes due to physical or mental incapacitation, and those who are too weak to resist being euthanized.

Some pro-life advocates, such as those subscribing to the philosophy of a Consistent Life Ethic (formerly known as the Seamless Garment), oppose virtually all acts that end human life. They would argue that abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and unjust war are all wrong. Others argue that the death penalty can be a fair punishment for murder, justifiably inflicted by lawful authority, whereas abortion is an attack on an innocent. The increasing attention paid to this controversial position may result from the large Roman Catholic membership of the pro-life movement, striving to adhere to Catholic Church teachings on the death penalty.[31]

The debate

A pro-life memorial in Bytom, Poland. Partial translation: "Dedicated in memory of unborn children – victims of abortion".

In some countries, the abortion issue remains one of the broader and more controversial societal issues. A broad spectrum of positions exists on this issue, from those who advocate abortion-on-demand at any point during a pregnancy until birth on the one end, to those who oppose every form of abortion on the other. Between these two there is a considerable range of positions. Some oppose abortion, but are content to work at reducing the number of abortions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies, a task they accomplish through encouraging abstinence, targeted sex education and/or increased availability of contraception. Current legislation in United States Congress, the Pregnant Women Support Act, seeks to reduce the abortion rate in the U.S. without making any procedure illegal and without overturning Roe v. Wade. There are many who support legal abortion within the first trimesters but oppose late-term abortions. Those who oppose late-term abortions usually take the view that once a fetus has reached the point where it could live independently from the woman, the balance of rights swings in favour of the fetus. Some oppose most abortions but make exception for cases where the woman's life is in serious risk. In this category, some likewise make an exception for severe fetal deformities. Others make exceptions when the pregnancy was not caused by consensual sexual activity or may violate social taboos, as in cases of rape and incest. Some allow for all these exceptions, but stop short of abortion-on-demand.

Another issue is that of mandatory notification and consent. Some believe that a pregnant minor should not be allowed to abort her pregnancy without notifying her parent or guardian because of the risks and possible medical complications. Likewise, some believe that notifying the woman's husband should be required because of parental rights. In a 2003 Gallup poll in the United States, 72% of respondents were in favour of spousal notification, with 26% opposed; of those polled.[32] In many states, such restrictions are mandated by law, though often with the right of judicial oversight. Others believe that the child's biological father must be notified.

Generally speaking, the pro-life position regards abortion as a form of infanticide, and thus seeks legal restrictions on abortions. Pro-life advocates typically argue that if a pregnant woman is unable or unwilling to raise the child, there is the option of placing the child up for adoption.

One analysis suggests that, since pro-life families may be expected to have fewer abortions (and more children) than their pro-choice counterparts and they may pass their beliefs on to their children, this will change the voter demographic of future generations. In this way, legal abortion-on-demand may also serve to increase the dominance of the pro-life position in society. This hypothesis has been called the "Roe effect," and may explain the trend towards more widespread support of the pro-life movement. Furthermore, polls conducted by the Guttmacher Institute have shown that women from religious denominations that are pro-life are as likely to have abortions as women who are not.[33]

Public opinion regarding abortion in the United States of America is difficult to measure; poll results vary and appear to be highly dependent upon the exact phrasing of the question. Two polls were released in May 2007 asking Americans "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?" May 4 through 6th, a CNN poll found 45% said pro-choice and 50% said pro-life.[34] Right-to-lifers hailed this poll as evidence that the American majority had shifted to right-to-lifism for the first time in several decades; however, the following week, a Gallup poll found 49% responding pro-choice and 45% pro-life.[35] A May 2009 Gallup poll showed a 51-42 majority pro-life, for the first time since 1995 when the organization first started taking this poll.[36]

The debate is often presented as between those who believe fetuses are persons and should therefore have rights, vs. those who believe fetuses are not persons but "future persons" or "potential persons". However, not all pro-choicers claim that fetuses are non-persons; there are also those who say that even if fetuses are persons, their position inside the body of another person entitles that other person to kill them anyway. This is sometimes called the "Body-Ownership Argument" or the "Abortion-As-Justifiable-Homicide Argument". It need not be based only on the fetus' location; it can also be justified by citing the fact that the fetus is taking nutrients from the mother's bloodstream, and injecting metabolic end-products into her bloodstream, and preparing to subject her to a major medical/surgical trauma (childbirth), all of which she is entitled to prevent, even by means of deadly force.(See, e.g., Judith Jarvis Thompson, "A Defense of Abortion," Journal of Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1 (1971), p. 47.)

Legal and political aspects

The U.S. Republican Party platform advocates a pro-life position,[37] though there are some pro-choice Republicans. The Republican group The Wish List supports pro-choice Republican women just as EMILY's List supports pro-choice Democratic women. The Susan B. Anthony List is dedicated to "increasing the percentage of pro-life women in Congress and high public office."[38] The Democrats for Life of America are a group of pro-life Democrats on the political left who advocate for a pro-life plank in the Democratic Party's platform and for pro-life Democratic candidates. The former vice-presidential candidate Sargent Shriver and the late Robert Casey, a former two-term governor of Pennsylvania, are among the most well-known pro-life Democrats.

Term controversy

Pro-life and pro-choice individuals often use political framing to convey their perspective on the issues and, in some cases, to discredit opposing views. Pro-life advocates tend to use terms such as "unborn baby", "unborn child", or "pre-born child",[39][40] while some pro-choice advocates insist on scientific terminology (often distinguishing between a zygote, a blastula, an embryo, and a fetus, and objecting to "fetus" as a blanket term). Pro-life individuals may also prefer to refer to the pregnant woman as a "mother", while some pro-choice individuals consider this inappropriate, and some in the medical community may see its usage as insensitive and biased in certain narrowly defined contexts.[41]

Both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are examples of terms labeled as political framing: they are terms which purposely try to define their philosophies in the best possible light, while by definition attempting to describe their opposition in the worst possible light. "Pro-choice" implies that the alternative viewpoint is "anti-choice", while "pro-life" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-death" or "anti-life"[42]. Similarly each side's use of the term "rights" ("reproductive rights", "right to life of the unborn") implies a validity in their stance, given that the presumption in language is that rights are inherently a good thing and so implies an invalidity in the viewpoint of their opponents.

The Associated Press encourages journalists to use the terms "abortion rights" and "anti-abortion".[43]

Types of advocacy

Pro-life advocacy involves a variety of activities, from promoting the pro-life position to the public in general, lobbying public officials, or reaching individuals - for example by attempting to dissuade individual women to forgo abortions. Some efforts involve distributing literature, providing counseling services, conducting public demonstrations or protests and private or public prayer.

Pro-life protesters make a silent demonstration in front of the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.

Demonstrations and protests

  • Mass demonstrations: every year, American pro-life advocates hold a March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January, the anniversary date of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion in the United States. Similar events take place on a smaller scale in other U.S. cities, such as the Walk for Life in San Francisco, California. In Spain, over a million pro-lifers took part in a demonstration on 17 October 2009 protesting the legalization of abortion.[44] On a lesser scale, the Paris March for Life gathers thousands of French pro-lifers every year in January.
  • The life chain: The "Life Chain" is a public demonstration technique that involves standing in a row on sidewalks holding signs bearing pro-life messages. Messages include "Abortion Kills Children", "Abortion stops a beating heart" or "Abortion Hurts Women". Participants, as an official policy, do not yell or chant slogans and do not block pedestrians or roadways. Many Right to Life chapters hold Life Chain events yearly[45] and the annual worldwide 40 Days for Life campaigns also use this technique. Some pro-life advocates question the effectiveness of this tactic.[citation needed]
  • The rescue: A "rescue operation" involves pro-life activists blocking the entrances to an abortion clinic in order to prevent anyone from entering. The stated goal of this practice is to force the clinic to shut down for the day. Often, the protesters are removed by law enforcement. Some clinics were protested so heavily in this fashion that they closed down permanently. "The rescue" was first attempted by Operation Rescue. Ever since President Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act into law, the rescue has become prohibitively expensive, and has rarely been attempted.
A pro-life van parked outside of an abortion clinic.
  • The truth display: In conducting a "truth display", protesters publicly display highly-magnified pictures of aborted fetuses. Some pro-life groups believe that publicizing the graphic results of abortion is an effective way of making their case. The Pro-Life Action League has used this form of activism in its Face the Truth displays. Members of one group, Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, have been jailed numerous times for these types of displays which they set up both legally and illegally on university campuses. "Truth displays" are a controversial tactic, including within the pro-life movement.[46]
  • Picketing: The majority of the facilities that perform abortions in the United States experience some form of protest from pro-life demonstrators every year, of which the most common form is picketing. Besides the clinics themselves, other sites for right-to-life picketing include abortion workers' homes, churches, and second-job workplaces, and abortion workers' children's schools.[citation needed] Most facilities that perform abortions experience picketing at least 20 times a year;[citation needed] in 2007, 11,113 instances of picketing were either reported to, or obtained by, the National Abortion Federation.[47]

Counseling

  • Sidewalk counseling: "Sidewalk counseling" is a form of pro-life advocacy which is conducted outside of abortion clinics. Activists seek to communicate with those entering the building, or with passersby in general, in an effort to persuade them not to have an abortion or to reconsider their position on the morality of abortion.[48] They do so by trying to engage in conversation, displaying signs, distributing literature, or giving directions to a nearby crisis pregnancy center.[48] The "Chicago Method" is an approach to sidewalk counseling that involves giving those about to enter an abortion facility copies of lawsuits filed against the facility or its physicians. The name comes from the fact that it was first used by Pro-Life Action League in Chicago.[49] The intent of the Chicago Method is to turn the woman away from a facility that the protesters deem "unsafe", thus giving her time to reconsider her choice to abort.[50]
  • Crisis pregnancy centers: "Crisis pregnancy centers" are non-profit organizations, mainly in the United States, usually established with the goal of presenting pregnant women with alternatives to abortion. Though many CPCs refrain from engaging in the public debate on abortion[2], they are often staffed by supporters of the pro-life movement. The total number of CPCs has been estimated at several thousand in the U.S.[51] The Care Net network as well as the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates each claim over a thousand affiliated centers, Heartbeat International 900 and Birthright International several hundred. While originally these centers concentrated on providing direct material support or information on available social help, a growing number have more recently acquired medical and paramedical equipment: an estimated one CPC in four offers free sonograms in the hope of convincing pregnant women not to abort.[52] Critics have claimed that many CPCs engage in deceptive tactics to attract and persuade women contemplating abortion.[53] Some CPCs have been court ordered to stop representing themselves as providing a complete range of health services, including abortion.[54]

Violence against abortion providers

Violent incidents directed against abortion providers range from the murders and attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff to arson and bombings of abortion clinics, to ordinary fisticuffs. G. Davidson Smith of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) defined abortion extremist, animal rights, and environmentalism-related violence as "single issue terrorism".[55] Acts of violence against abortion providers and facilities in North America have largely subsided following a peak in the mid-1990s.[56] The National Clinic Violence Survey, conducted by the pro-choice Feminist Majority Foundation, reports that severe violence now affects 18.4% of abortion providers and facilities (2005PDF (80.4 KiB) figures), a figure lower than at any time since 1994, which is consistent with statistics from the National Abortion Federation showing that violence against abortion clinics or providers has decreased steadily since 2001.[47]

A notable example of anti-abortion violence in the United States is the murder of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, who was shot point-blank through the eye in the foyer of the church where he was a member.[57] Pro-life leaders and groups condemned the killing.[58][59][60] The vast majority of pro-life advocates, as well as mainstream pro-life organizations, reject the use of extra-legal violence in support of pro-life goals and/or in opposition to abortion[citation needed] on the basis of the belief that both may qualify as murder. They rely upon other forms of activism like picketing and vigils, as well as legal and political action. The National Right to Life Committee, the largest pro-life organization in the United States, has stated that it "unequivocally condemns any acts of violence used by individuals regardless of their motivation".[61] The American Life League has issued a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence".[62] Other organizations, such as Operation Rescue do not commit but controversially publish private information and pray for abortion doctors to be "executed".[63]

References

  1. ^ Holland, S. (2003). Bioethics: a Philosophical Introduction Cambridge, UK : Polity Press; New York : Distributed in the USA by Blackwell Pub.
  2. ^ Finn, J.T. (2005-04-23). ""Birth Control" Pills cause early Abortions". Pro-Life America — Facts on Abortion. prolife.com. http://www.prolife.com/BIRTHCNT.html. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Emergency 'Contraception' and Early Abortion". United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. 1998-08-01. http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/abortion/fact1098.shtml. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  4. ^ Wallace, James Matthew. "Atheist and Agnostic Pro-Life League Homepage". http://www.godlessprolifers.org/home.html. Retrieved November 4, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Feminists for Life". http://www.feministsforlife.org/. 
  6. ^ Pew Forums
  7. ^ Mapping the social landscape: readings in sociology By Susan J. Ferguson
  8. ^ Sex, Politics, and Religion: The Clash Between Poland and the European Union over Abortion by Alicia Czerwinski in the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, 2003
  9. ^ Официальный сайт Русской Православной Церкви
  10. ^ True to the Faith (LDS) article on abortion. Retrieved 2006-05-06.
  11. ^ a b c "Religious Groups’ Official Positions on Abortion" Pew Forum
  12. ^ BBC.co.uk
  13. ^ Family and Abortion in Islam on Patheos
  14. ^ http://www.fnsa.org/fall98/murti.html
  15. ^ "Legal but not available" India Together
  16. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/hinduism/texts/texts.shtml
  17. ^ BBC
  18. ^ a b Business Week
  19. ^ Jakobovits, Sinclair
  20. ^ a b "Jewish pro-life activist Medved says children are ‘a gift, not a choice’" Jewish Chronical
  21. ^ a b The making of pro-life activists: how social movement mobilization works By Ziad W. Munson
  22. ^ a b They Kingdom Come a book by Randall Herbert Balmer, Professor of Religion and History at Columbia University.
  23. ^ NPR.org "Church Meets State in the Oval Office" on Fresh Air
  24. ^ NPR.org "Charismatic Movement"
  25. ^ a b c They Kingdom Come pg. 12, a book by Randall Herbert Balmer, Professor of Religion and History at Columbia University.
  26. ^ McKeegan, M. (1993), "The politics of abortion: A historical perspective", Women's Health Issues 3 (3), pp. 127-131
  27. ^ Baptist Press"Sparks fly in Land’s appearance at black columnists’ meeting"
  28. ^ Agence France Presse, 17 October 2009
  29. ^ a b c Efrat
  30. ^ National Right to Life Mission Statement.
  31. ^ The Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
  32. ^ Pew Research Centre "Public Opinion Supports Alito on Spousal Notification Even as It Favors Roe v. Wade".
  33. ^ Alan Guttmacher Institute.
  34. ^ CNN Opinion Research PollPDF (294 KiB), (2007-05-09). Retrieved 2007-05-27.
  35. ^ "Abortion" The Gallup Poll (5/21/2007) Retrieved 2007-05-28.
  36. ^ Lydia Saad (2009-05-15). "More Americans “Pro-Life” Than “Pro-Choice” for First Time". Gallup Poll. Gallup.com. http://www.gallup.com/poll/118399/more-americans-pro-life-than-pro-choice-first-time.aspx. 
  37. ^ 2004 Republican Party Platform: A Safer World and a More Hopeful America p. 84.
  38. ^ Its connected Candidate Fund increases the percentage of pro-life women in politics., http://www.suzyb.org/blog/Elections Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  39. ^ Chamberlain, Pam and Jean Hardisty. (2007) "The Importance of the Political 'Framing' of Abortion". The Public Eye Magazine Vol. 14, No. 1. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  40. ^ "The Roberts Court Takes on Abortion". New York Times. November 5, 2006. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  41. ^ Words Matter quote: "The language proposed is not intended to be rigidly adhered to in all situations"
  42. ^ Example of "anti-life" terminology
  43. ^ Goldstein, Norm, ed. The Associated Press Stylebook. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2007.
  44. ^ Le Figaro, 17 October 2009 [1]
  45. ^ http://nationallifechain.org Retrieved 25 September 2008.
  46. ^ Pavone, Frank A."Should We Use Graphic Images?" Priests for Life Retrieved September 7, 2007. Quote: "Even among those who oppose abortion, answers to this question [Should we use graphic images?] vary".
  47. ^ a b "NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics" (PDF). National Abortion Federation. http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/violence_statistics.pdf. Retrieved 2008-07-28. 
  48. ^ a b Hill v. Colorado (98-1856) 530 U.S. 703 (2000). Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  49. ^ "Controversy in the Activist Movement", Pro-Life Action News, August 2000.
  50. ^ "The "Chicago Method": Sidewalk Counseling that appeals to the Mother's concerns for her own well-being," Priests for Life.
  51. ^ Gibbs, Nancy (2007-02-15). ""The Grass-Roots Abortion War"". Time Magazine (Time Magazine): p. html. http://http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1590444-2,00.html. Retrieved 2009-12-18. 
  52. ^ Chandler, Michael Alison (2006-09-09). ""Antiabortion Centers Offer Sonograms to Further Cause"". Washington Post (Washington Post): p. html. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/08/AR2006090801967.html. Retrieved 2008-02-24. ""By many accounts, the ultrasound exams have proven effective in convincing women to stay pregnant. A 2005 survey by Care Net, a Sterling-based network of about 1,000 antiabortion pregnancy centers in the United States and Canada, found that 72 percent of women who were initially "strongly leaning" toward abortion decided to carry their pregnancies to term after seeing a sonogram. Fifty percent made the same choice after counseling alone. A report in July from congressional Democrats found that the federal government has contributed $30 million to antiabortion pregnancy centers since 2001. Most of that money paid for sexual abstinence education. But some was distributed as grants to help pay for ultrasound machines, the report found. For example, Life Line Pregnancy Care Center in Loudoun County received a $50,000 federal grant last year to buy a machine." 
  53. ^ "Abortion Battle: Prenatal Care or Pressure Tactics?" The Washington Post
  54. ^ "Anti-Abortion Center's Ads Ruled Misleading" The New York Times
  55. ^ Single Issue Terrorism.
  56. ^ Violence at US Abortion Clinics.
  57. ^ "Suspect in slaying of abortion provider George Tiller being returned to Wichita." (May 31, 2009). kansascity.com. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  58. ^ National Right to Life Condemns the Killing of Dr. George Tiller
  59. ^ Pro-Life Leaders Respond to Tiller Shooting
  60. ^ Pro-Life Tiller Response Continues: Shooting Abortion Practitioner Not Pro-Life
  61. ^ NATIONAL RIGHT TO LIFE CONDEMNS VIOLENCE
  62. ^ Pro-life proclamation against violence.
  63. ^ http://coloradoindependent.com/30029/attorney-general-directs-us-marshals-to-protect-abortion-clinics-providers

External links


, London on 20 May 2008.]]
Part of a series on abortion
Movement
Pro-choiceTemplate:· Pro-life
Issues

Pro-life is a term representing a variety of perspectives and activist movements in medical ethics. It is most commonly used, especially in the media and popular discourse, to refer to opposition to abortion. More generally, the term describes a political and ethical view which maintains that human fetuses and embryos are persons and therefore have a right to live. Less commonly, it can be used to indicate opposition to practices such as euthanasia, the death penalty, human cloning, and research involving human embryonic stem cells.

On the issue of abortion, pro-life campaigners are opposed by pro-choice campaigners who generally argue in terms of the reproductive rights of the woman, rather than fetal rights.

Contents

Overview

Template:Seealso Pro-life individuals generally believe that human life should be valued either from conception or implantation until natural death. The contemporary pro-life movement is typically, but not exclusively, associated with Christian morality (especially in the United States), and has influenced certain strains of bioethical utilitarianism.[1] From that viewpoint, any action which destroys an embryo or fetus kills a person. Any deliberate destruction of human life is considered ethically or morally wrong and is not considered to be mitigated by any benefits to others, as such benefits come at the expense of the life of a person. In some cases, this belief extends to opposing abortion of fetuses that would almost certainly expire within a short time after birth, such as anencephalic fetuses. Euthanasia and assisted suicide are also opposed by some pro-life people based on a belief that all human life is sacred and must be protected even against the wishes of people who want to end their own lives.

Many pro-lifers oppose certain forms of birth control, particularly hormonal contraception such as ECPs, which are alleged to prevent the implantation of an embryo. Because they believe that personhood begins at fertilization, they refer to these contraceptives as abortifacients.[2] The Catholic Church recognizes this view,[3] but the possibility that hormonal contraception has post-fertilization effects is disputed within the scientific community. (See also: Mechanism of action and United States legal and ethical controversies.)

Attachment to a pro-life position is often but not exclusively connected to religious beliefs about the sanctity of life (see also Culture of Life). Exclusively secular-humanist positions against abortion tend to be a minority viewpoint among pro-life advocates.[4] While this group is a distinct minority, they are a growing and burgeoning movement, and seek to put new meaning into the phrase "pro-life".[5]

Diversity of pro-life views

The major stated goal of the pro-life movement is to "restore legal protection to innocent human life."[6] This protection would include fetuses and embryos, persons who cannot communicate their wishes due to physical or mental incapacitation, and those who are too weak to resist being euthanized.

Some pro-life advocates, such as those subscribing to the philosophy of a Consistent Life Ethic, oppose virtually all acts that end human life. They would argue that abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, and unjust war are all wrong. Others argue that the death penalty can be a fair punishment for murder, justifiably inflicted by lawful authority, whereas abortion is an attack on an innocent. In recent years, the issue of the death penalty has gained more attention because some pro-life advocates wish to create a more unified pro-life ideal that prohibits the death penalty. The majority of Roman Catholic theologians are strong proponents of this unified position. The increasing attention paid to this controversial position may result from the large Roman Catholic membership of the pro-life movement, a membership that is also striving to adhere to recent religious statements from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the death penalty.[7]

While some pro-life advocates are opposed to euthanasia of humans under all circumstances, others believe that individuals, especially adults, should have the right to choose to end their own lives if they become terminally ill or severely disabled. Because many such individuals are unable to communicate their wishes, euthanasia will likely remain controversial within the pro-life community. While some believe that direct euthanasia should only be an option for persons with the ability to communicate at the time of the procedure, others believe that individuals should be allowed to state their wishes in advance, such as in a living will, or that family members and/or persons with power of attorney or guardianship should be allowed to make decisions regarding euthanasia for persons who are unable to communicate.

Cessation of life support for an individual who is unable to live without life support is sometimes referred to as indirect or passive euthanasia. Although many pro-life advocates support indirect euthanasia for persons judged by their doctors as having little or no hope for recovery, other pro-life advocates oppose indirect euthanasia, even under those circumstances. Some pro-life advocates strongly disagree with the outcome of the Terri Schiavo case. Indeed, most pro-life advocates familiar with the Terri Schiavo case framed the issue as one of direct euthanasia on the grounds that nutrition and hydration, in their view, do not constitute "life support".[8]

In contrast, there are yet others who find that the pro-life movement's focus on legislative means is heading down the wrong track, believing that working through means of sex education, birth control, and aid to single mothers will more realistically reduce abortions while also drawing others into the movement.Template:Fact Rather than causing a political divide by arguing what can and cannot legally be done and what laws should be passed about it, such non-legislative pro-life goals are sought in order to bridge the gap with those who may consider themselves against abortion but pro-choice, because they cannot agree with passing restrictive laws--whether concerning gestation or anything else.Template:Fact

Other pro-life views also encompass life extension. Aging kills about 100,000 people per day and some people such as Aubrey de Grey advocate research to help sustain their lives.[9] One fundamental tenet of this view is that humans have the right to live as long as they wish to.[10] Some, such as the Extropians, take this to the extreme: they intend to defeat death.[11] Such people often use the rhetoric of other pro-life advocates (for example referring to aging as "slaughter"[12] and invoking the phrase "Our Right to Life").[10]

The debate

, Poland. Partial translation: "Dedicated in memory of unborn children – victims of abortion".]] In some countries, the abortion issue remains one of the broader and more controversial societal issues. A broad spectrum of positions exists on this issue, from those who advocate abortion-on-demand at any point during a pregnancy on the one end (100% pro-choice), to those who oppose every form of abortion on the other (100% pro-life). Between these two there is a considerable range of positions. Some oppose abortion, but are content to work at reducing the number of abortions through prevention of unwanted pregnancies, a task they accomplish through encouraging abstinence, targeted sex education and/or increased availability of contraception. Current legislation in United States Congress, the Pregnant Women Support Act, seeks to reduce the abortion rate in the U.S. without making any procedure illegal and without overturning Roe v. Wade. There are many who support legal abortion within the first two trimesters but oppose late-term abortions. Those who oppose late term abortions usually take the view that once a fetus has reached the point where it could live independently from the pregnant woman, the balance of rights perhaps swings in favour of the fetus. Some oppose most abortions but make exception for cases where the woman's life is in serious risk. In this category, some likewise make an exception for severe fetal deformities. Others make exceptions when the pregnancy was not caused by consensual sexual activity or may violate social taboos, as in cases of rape and incest. Some allow for all these exceptions, but stop short of abortion-on-demand.

Another issue is that of mandatory notification and consent. Some believe that a pregnant minor should not be allowed to abort her pregnancy without notifying her parent or guardian because of the risks and possible medical complications. Likewise, some believe that notifying the woman's husband should be required because of parental rights. In a 2003 Gallup poll in the United States, 72% of respondents were in favour of spousal notification, with 26% opposed; of those polled.[13] In many states, such restrictions are mandated by law, though often with the right of judicial oversight. Others believe that the child's biological father must be notified.

Generally speaking, the pro-life position regards abortion as a form of infanticide, and thus seeks legal restrictions on abortions. Pro-life advocates typically argue that if a pregnant woman is unable or unwilling to raise the child, there is the option of placing the child up for adoption.

Public opinion in the United States of America is almost evenly split on the issue. Two polls were released in May 2007 asking Americans "With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?" May 4 through 6th, a CNN poll found 45% said pro-choice and 50% said pro-life.[14] Within the following week, a Gallup poll found 49% responding pro-choice and 45% pro-life.[15]

On the other hand, the counter-argument claims that pro-life families have fewer abortions (and more children) than their pro-choice counterparts, and they may pass their beliefs on to their children, thus changing the voter demographic of future generations. In this way, legal abortion-on-demand may also serve to increase the dominance of the pro-life position in society. This latter hypothesis has been called the "Roe effect," and may explain the trend towards more widespread support of the pro-life movement. However, these scenarios are not concurrent with the fact that abortion rates are high in states which traditionally elect pro-life legislators, and low in states which traditionally elect pro-choice legislators.[16] Furthermore, polls conducted by the Guttmacher Institute have shown that women from religious denominations that are pro-life are as likely to have abortions as women who are not.[17]

Legal and political aspects

demonstrates at the 2006 March for Life.]]

The U.S. Republican Party platform advocates a pro-life position,[18] though some Republicans are not pro-life. The Republican group The Wish List supports pro-choice Republican women just as EMILY's List supports pro-choice Democratic women. The Susan B. Anthony List is dedicated to "increasing the percentage of pro-life women in Congress and high public office."[19] The Democrats for Life of America are a group of pro-life Democrats on the political left who advocate for a pro-life plank in the Democratic Party's platform and for pro-life Democratic candidates. The former vice-presidential candidate Sargent Shriver and the late Robert Casey, a former two term governor of Pennsylvania, are among the most well-known pro-life Democrats. His son, Bob Casey, Jr. is now one of the four pro-life Democratic US Senators.

In many nations, such as Canada, the nations of Europe, Australia, the nations of Asia and Africa, and the U.S. there are many on the economic left-wing and political centre who either have personal disagreements with abortion or who oppose legal abortions outright. Both groups generally consider themselves pro-life.

Motivations

Supporters of the pro-life movement have many motivations including personal experience, religion, philosophy, scientific arguments of when life begins,[20] their culture, their politics, as well as a belief that abortion hurts society, the economy and the women who undergo it.[21]

Religion

The variety in opinion on the issue is reflected in the diverse views of religious groups. For example, the Roman Catholic Church opposes abortion under almost all circumstances, while traditional Jewish teachings sanction abortion as a means of safeguarding the life and well-being of the mother. Other groups stop short of condemning the procedure and ask believers to consider religious teachings and personal faith in deciding whether to have an abortion.[22]

Christianity

at the Estádio do Pacaembu in São Paulo, Brazil in 2007. Translation: "No to abortion". The rest of the crowd have both arms raised in a prayer gesture.]]

Opposition to abortion by some Christians is based on a number of sources. Historically, the first Christian opposition to abortion is found in a short early Christian treatise called the Didache and in the writings of a few of the Church Fathers. The Didache, which dates from the end of the 1st century, specifically prohibits abortion.[23] Tertullian (c. 160-c. 230) condemned abortion as a crime: "Abortion is a precipitation of murder, nor does it matter whether or not one takes a life when formed, or drives it away when forming, for he is also a man who is about to be one."[24] St. Basil the Great (330-379) also states that "Those who give potions for the destruction of a child conceived in the womb are murderers, as are those who take potions which kill the child."[25] St. Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-379) takes a similar position : "There is no question about that which is bred in the uterus, both growing, and moving from place to place. It remains, therefore, that we must think that the point of commencement of existence is one and the same for body and soul".[26]

The Bible, unlike the Didache and those Church Fathers, makes no specific mention of abortion, although it does mention pregnancy several times. For example, Psalm 139:13-16 refers to God's creation of human life as follows: "For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."[27] Luke 1:44 cites Elizabeth exclaiming to the Virgin Mary, "Behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb (John the Baptist) leaped for joy." Jeremiah 1:4-5, retelling God's appointing of Jeremiah to be a prophet, says: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you". Pro-life Christians interpret such passages to reveal the personhood of an embryo/fetus,[28] while others interpret this passage to be centrally focused instead on the special significance of Jeremiah as a prophet and maintain that they have no relevance to claims that the fetus is a person.[29][original research?]

Pro-life Christians cite many other Biblical passages in support of their position, including the following:

Psalm 127:3: Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children are a reward from him.

Leviticus 24:17: "[The LORD said:] If anyone takes the life of a human being, he must be put to death."

Proverbs 6:16-17c: "There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood...

Psalm 9:12: For he who avenges blood remembers; he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.

Psalm 82:3-4: (3) Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed. (4) Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.[30]

The Catholic Church teaches that "abortion is a grave sin against the natural law."[31] It believes that human life is sacred, and begins at conception (which they define as fertilization). Under this view, abortion is equivalent to murder, and there are no permissible exceptions. When the life of the woman is in jeopardy, it is permissible to obtain life-saving treatment which may have the secondary effect of killing the fetus, but no direct action may be taken against the fetus/embryo itself, and all life-sustaining options must be exhausted. (An example is chemotherapy treatment for a pregnant woman with uterine cancer.) It also ascribes to a Consistent Life Ethic: euthanasia, the death penalty, unjust war, embryo research, in vitro fertilization (which involves discarded embryos), artificial contraception (of which some methods may prevent implantation of a zygote in the uterine lining), and abortion are all condemned as violence. Catholic Church law provides that anyone who directly participates in an abortion is automatically excommunicated (provided they are aware of this penalty at the time of the act).[32] A valid sacramental confession remits this penalty. In accord with its opposition to abortion, the Catholic Church provides support to pregnant women in "crisis pregnancies," as well as to low income families.

Other Christian denominations hold varying positions on abortion. Conservative, evangelical, or fundamentalist Christian groups are more likely to oppose abortion, whereas liberal Protestant churches are more likely to allow for it.

The Christian Alliance for Progress, most notably, has come out in opposition of abortion, but has advocated a program of assistance and prevention as opposed to the criminalization of abortion, opposes the death penalty, but maintains a neutral stance on euthanasia.

The Christian Democrats of America take a different view of pro-life as an all-around Christian worldview. Under this view, pro-life does not mean only compassion towards fetuses, but to the prisoners, immigrants, poors, veterans, etc.

Hinduism

While Hinduism does not take the explicit pro-life stance that most Christian groups do, Hinduism teaches that murder is a great crime and one of the worst possible sins. Hindu teachings recognize a fetus as a living, conscious person deserving of protection. Also, according to Hindu Mythology, there are 16 Samskaarams or Sanskaars during the life cycle of an individual (Soul) which starts pre-birth at Garbhadhaan (Conception), thereby denoting that life is considered to begin at conception itself. One of the seven legendary immortals or Chiranjeevin in Hinduism, Ashwatthama, was cursed by Lord Krishna, avatar of Vishnu to immortality and eternal suffering partly for attacking a pregnant woman so she would miscarry her fetus (later born as Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna) when he was in his mother's womb. Parakashit was stillborn, but was raised from the dead by Sri Krishna.[33][34][35]

Unless a mother's or the foetus's health is at risk, traditional Hindu teachings condemn abortion because it is thought to violate the religion's teachings of non-violence. The general value system of Hinduism teaches that the correct course of action in any given situation is the one that causes the least harm to those involved.[36]

Islam

Islamic opposition is based on the concept that abortion is considered murder if done 120 days after conception and disfigurement of the woman's body if done before. According to a hadith (Sahih Bukhari 54:430 and 55:549, Sahih Muslim 33:6390), the fetus is not considered alive until the 120th day after conception.[37] Islam does provide for some exceptions where abortion is permissible, such as when the woman's life is in jeopardy or when repeated pregnancies severely damage her health.[38]

Although there are different opinions among Islamic scholars about when life begins and when abortion is permissible, most agree that the termination of a pregnancy after four months - the point at which, in Islam, a fetus is thought to become a living soul - is not permissible. Many Islamic thinkers contend that in cases prior to four months of gestation, abortion should be permissible only in instances in which a mother's life is in danger or in cases of rape.

Judaism

Jews are considerably divided in terms of life issues. Adherents to Orthodox Judaism are particularly stringent in these matters, as Judaism stresses the sanctity of life above virtually all other considerations. (Commandments for which one must accept death rather than violate include only murder, idolatry/apostasy, and forbidden sexual relations.) According to halakha (Jewish law) abortion is prohibited once 40 days have passed since conception. Before 40 days have passed, most poskim (Jewish legal decisors) still generally prohibit abortion, though this interval is considered a period of lenience.[39] According to the Talmud the embryo is reckoned in importance to be mere water. Rashi stated that the fetus is not a person.[40] If a pregnancy threatens the life (or even mental health) of the woman, all agree that the fetus must be aborted in order to save the woman's life.[41]

Other denominations of Judaism (Reform, Conservative, etc.) espouse more liberal interpretations of the traditional texts, or often reject them outright as irrelevant or outdated. Consequently, adherents to these movements often take a more liberal stance on abortion issues.

Traditional Jewish teachings sanction abortion as a means of safeguarding the life and well-being of a mother. While the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements openly advocate the right to a safe and accessible abortion, the Orthodox movement is less unified on the issue, but is nevertheless cognizant of the necessity of safety and accessibility for permissible abortions.

Secular

Yet another breed of pro-life individuals hold no religious convictions, and rely upon non-religious sources to base their arguments. One of the more prominent secular pro-life advocates is Nat Hentoff of the Village Voice.

Some of those who are religious have used non-religious justifications when making public policy arguments, including some prominent pro-life politicians (for example, U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan[42] and George W. Bush,[43] and U.S. Senator Sam Brownback).[44]

Term controversy

Pro-life and pro-choice individuals often use political framing to convey their perspective on the issues and, in some cases, to discredit opposing views. Pro-life advocates tend to use terms such as "unborn baby", "unborn child", or "pre-born child",[45][46] while some pro-choice advocates insist on scientific terminology (distinguishing between a zygote, a blastula, an embryo, and a fetus, and objecting to "fetus" as a blanket term).

Both "pro-choice" and "pro-life" are examples of political framing: they are terms which purposely try to define their philosophies in the best possible light, while by definition attempting to describe their opposition in the worst possible light. "Pro-choice" implies the alternative viewpoint is "anti-choice," while "pro-life" implies the alternative viewpoint is "pro-death" or "anti-life." Similarly each side's use of the term "rights" ("reproductive rights", "right to life of the unborn") implies a validity in their stance, given that the presumption in language is that rights are inherently a good thing and so implies an invalidity in the viewpoint of their opponents.

The Associated Press encourages journalists to use the terms "abortion rights" and "anti-abortion."[47]

There is also some overlap between those who support capital punishment and who oppose abortion rights. This can lead to confusion as the majority of people who claim to be pro-life are also strong supporters of the death penalty.Template:Fact The Catholic church has taken strong stance against both abortion and capital punishment.

Activism

Pro-life activism involves a variety of activities, from promoting the pro-life position to the public in general, lobbying public officials, or reaching individuals - for example by attempting to dissuade individual women to forgo abortions. Some efforts involve distributing literature, providing counseling services, conducting public demonstrations or protests, and committing acts of civil disobedience.

Types of activism

Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.]]
  • Free ultrasound: One type of pro-life activism is giving free ultrasound scans to pregnant women who are considering an abortion. These usually take place at a crisis pregnancy center. The theory behind this practice is the belief that the pregnant woman will decide to carry to term once she views images of the fetus. In the US, federal funding is provided for crisis pregnancy centers, many of which provide free ultrasounds.[48][49]
  • The life chain: The "Life Chain" is a public demonstration technique that involves simply standing in a row on sidewalks holding signs with pro-life messages. Historically, the most often used message has been "Abortion Kills Children" but other signs have been produced for use by Life Chainers that include, "Abortion stops a beating heart," "Abortion Hurts Women," "I'm a child, not a choice," "God Heal Our Land," "God Bless America," "Jesus Forgives and Heals," "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and "Jesus Loves You." Life Chainers, as an official policy, do not yell or chant slogans and do not block pedestrians or roadways. This type of demonstration is extremely common, but some pro-life demonstrators question the effectiveness of this tactic. Many Right to Life chapters hold Life Chain events yearly,[50] and the annual worldwide 40 Days for Life campaigns are another example of this technique.
  • The rescue: A "rescue operation" involves pro-life activists standing in front of an abortion clinic in order to prevent anyone from entering. The stated goal of this practice is to force the clinic to shut down for the day. Often, the protesters are removed by law enforcement. Some clinics were protested so heavily in this fashion that they closed down permanently. "The rescue" was first attempted by Operation Rescue. Ever since former president Bill Clinton signed the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act into law, the rescue has rarely been attempted. Some consider it "peaceful civil disobedience" but others fear that the openly confrontational nature of rescue operations may inflame an already touchy situation to violence.
  • The die-in: is a variation of a protest by the same name which was first done to protest the Vietnam War. In the pro-life die-in, protesters fall to the ground in the fetal position. Often this is used to gain attention, in order for groups to distribute literature, and engage in conversation with the onlookers. Those on the ground do not move, hand out literature, or talk. Very few groups use this tactic, however Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust frequently use this method. Template:Fact

.]]

  • The truth display: In a "truth display", protesters go to an area intending to display pictures of aborted fetuses. Though this sparks anger and controversy, some pro-life groups believe this is the most effective way of explaining their position. The members of one group based out of Riverside, California, known as Survivors of the Abortion Holocaust, have been jailed numerous times for these types of displays which they set up both legally and illegally on university campuses. Pro-Life Action League's Face the Truth displays are another example of a "truth display." A point of disagreement among pro-lifers is whether displaying shock pictures is really necessary.[51] Though many believe in the truthfulness of "truth displays", many feel that it is sufficient to display informative images of perfectly healthy fetuses in order to demonstrate their humanity, not their suffering. Proponents of these "shock tactics" argue that, unless people realize the precise nature of abortion methods/procedures and their tangible results, the pro-life position can never succeed.
  • Sidewalk counseling: "Sidewalk counseling" is a form of pro-life activism which is conducted outside of abortion clinics. Activists seek to communicate with those entering the building, or with passersby in general, in an effort to persuade them not to have an abortion or to reconsider their position on the morality of abortion.[52] They do so by trying to engage in conversation, displaying signs, distributing literature, or giving directions to a nearby crisis pregnancy center.[52] The "Chicago Method" is an approach to sidewalk counseling that involves giving those about to enter an abortion facility copies of lawsuits filed against the facility or its physicians. The name comes from the fact that it was first used by Pro-Life Action League in Chicago.[53] The intent of the Chicago Method is to turn the woman away from a facility that the protesters deem "unsafe," thus giving her time to reconsider her choice to abort.[54]
  • Picketing: The majority of the facilities that perform abortions in the United States experience some form of protest from pro-life demonstrators every year, of which the most common form is picketing.[55] Most facilities that perform abortions experience picketing at least 20 times a year;[55] in 2007, 11,113 incidents of picketing were either reported to, or obtained by, the National Abortion Federation.[56]

Violence against abortion providers

The vast majority of pro-life advocates, as well as virtually all mainstream pro-life organizations, reject the use of violence in support of pro-life goals and/or in opposition to abortion,[57] on the basis of the belief that both qualify as murder. They also believe that such violence will only hurt their cause.Template:Fact They rely upon other forms of activism like picketing and vigils, as well as legal and political action. The American Life League has issued a "Pro-life Proclamation Against Violence."[58] However, some pro-choice critics of the anti-abortion movement argue that such violence is a direct and logical outgrowth of the "language of genocide" used by abortion opponents.[59]

Violent incidents directed against abortion providers range from the arson and bombings of abortion clinics, as committed by Eric Rudolph, to the murders or attempted murders of physicians and clinic staff, as committed by James Kopp. G. Davidson Smith of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) defined abortion extremist, animal rights, and environmentalism-related violence as "single issue terrorism".[60] Actual acts of violence against abortion providers and facilities in North America have largely subsided following a peak in the mid-1990s.[61] The National Clinic Violence Survey, conducted by the pro-choice Feminist Majority Foundation, reports that severe violence now affects only 18.4% of abortion providers and facilities (2005PDF (80.4 KiB) figures), a figure lower than at any time since 1994. Statistics from the National Abortion Federation show that violence against abortion clinics or providers has decreased steadily since a peak in 2001.[56]

In North America, the most recent act of violence against an abortion provider that resulted in bodily injury was in Wichita, Kansas on May 31, 2009, when Dr. George Tiller was murdered in the foyer of the church where he was a member of the congregation;[62] the most recent act of criminal damage against an abortion provider in North America was an arson at an abortion clinic in Virginia Beach, Virginia on May 9, 2007;[63] and the most recent act of criminal damage by a pro-life extremist was an attempted suicide bombing on the Edgerton Women's Health Center in Davenport, Iowa, on September 11, 2006 (the center did not provide abortions, but the perpetrator, David Robert McMenemy, apparently believed it did).[64]

Violence against pro-life activists

Matthew R. Haver, 40, was arrested by Chico police for allegedly trying to hit [with an SUV] James Cantfield, 69, of Chico. Canfield is a regular demonstrator at Planned Parenthood and also at the Women's Health Center on Fir Street. He has a large sign with a graphic photo of an aborted fetus. According to Chico Police Lieutenant John Carrillo "it appears Haver became enraged over the picture of the aborted fetus, lost control of his emotions and tried to strike Canfield with his vehicle".[65]

See also

Template:Commonscat

References

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  51. Pavone, Frank A."Should We Use Graphic Images?" Priests for Life Retrieved September 7, 2007. Quote: "Even among those who oppose abortion, answers to this question [Should we use graphic images?] vary".
  52. 52.0 52.1 Hill v. Colorado (98-1856) 530 U.S. 703 (2000). Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  53. "Controversy in the Activist Movement", Pro-Life Action News, August 2000.
  54. "The "Chicago Method": Sidewalk Counseling that appeals to the Mother's concerns for her own well-being," Priests for Life.
  55. 55.0 55.1 "Picketing and Harassment". Center for Reproductive Rights. http://www.crlp.org/st_clinic_picketing.html. Retrieved on 2006-11-09. 
  56. 56.0 56.1 "NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics" (PDF). National Abortion Federation. http://www.prochoice.org/pubs_research/publications/downloads/about_abortion/violence_statistics.pdf. Retrieved on 2008-07-28. 
  57. Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer, President, Human Life International (HLI), 2006: "For one thing, no one who is pro-life kills anyone. So those who have killed abortionists or bombed abortion clinics may be anti-abortion, but they are certainly not pro-life. No pro-life organization that I know of, and certainly not Human Life International, condones or advocates violence against any person. To do so would go against our pro-life beliefs. All human life is precious... without exception."
  58. Pro-life proclamation against violence.
  59. George Tiller and the Paradox of Anti-Abortion Violence
  60. Single Issue Terrorism.
  61. Violence at US Abortion Clinics.
  62. "Suspect in slaying of abortion provider George Tiller being returned to Wichita." (May 31, 2009). kansascity.com. Retrieved May 31, 2009.
  63. "Planned Parenthood Arson." (May 12, 2007). WKTR.com. Retrieved May 14, 2007.
  64. Man rams car into women's clinic in Davenport.
  65. Chico man charged with using SUV to assault anti-abortion protester

Simple English

Some people feel very strongly about abortion. People who think that abortion is wrong and that the law should not allow it are called pro-life. People who think think the law should let women choose to have abortions are called pro-choice.

People who are pro-life believe that all humans, including embryos and fetuses, have a right to life. For this reason, they believe abortion is wrong, sometimes comparing it to murder. They think the law should make abortion a crime in order to protect embryos and fetuses. However, though pro-life people think abortion is wrong, there are special cases in which they will sometimes support allowing an abortion to happen, like if the pregnancy puts the woman's life at risk or if she got pregnant from rape. Pro-life people think women who are pregnant and do not want to raise a child should give the baby up for adoption instead of having an abortion. They have started advocacy groups, like the American Life League, to try to convince more people to think abortion is wrong and to try to get governments to make laws to restrict abortion. Sometimes, people who are against abortion have used violence to try to stop abortions from happening, like bombing the clinics that do abortions or shooting the people who work inside them. However, most people who are against abortion do not do such things and believe that they are wrong, and so they try to stop abortions from happening through peaceful activism like protesting with signs outside of clinics or talking to people about abortion and why they think it is wrong.

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