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Reproducing Patriarchy: Reproductive Rights Under Siege
by Pam Chamberlain and Jean Hardisty
The Public Eye Magazine - Vo. 14, No. 1

    Reproductive Rights Under Siege

by Pam Chamberlain and Jean Hardisty

A woman's ability to control her reproductive decisions- her reproductive rights- involves more than her right to safe and legal abortion. Reproductive rights encompass the right to bear and raise children, the right to access adequate reproductive health care, and the right to prevent pregnancy or terminate an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy. In the almost thirty years since the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, much of the public's attention has been absorbed with the struggle over the right to abortion. The US political right wing has played a central role in that struggle, with nearly every right-wing politician promising a "litmus test" of opposition to abortion for government and judicial appointments. But the right's attack on women's reproductive rights goes far beyond its attack on the right to abortion. The same political forces that work to deny women access to abortion and birth control often simultaneously work to deny women their full range of reproductive rights.

Nevertheless, the centerpiece of the right's attack is the abortion issue. Abortion is not simply a medical procedure or a moral question. It is a political issue that will never go away. Its supporters and foes are locked in an ever-changing struggle. In the 1990s, that struggle became more violent. Abortion rights activists, always demonized and threatened by anti-abortion activists, now actually fear for their safety. What is the make-up of the anti-abortion movement, how does it relate to the larger attack on reproductive rights, and how can women expect their rights to be attacked in the future?

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