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The Nation: Term Limits: Our National Obsession With Late-Term Abortion [View All]

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-15-08 11:43 AM
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The Nation: Term Limits: Our National Obsession With Late-Term Abortion
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Term Limits: Our National Obsession With Late-Term Abortion
By Jessica Arons

July 14, 2008

Once again, a politician has gotten tripped up talking about abortion. Senator Barack Obama's recent comments on late-term abortion have him defending charges from some progressives that he's moving right in order to appeal to swing voters, while fighting off attempts from conservatives to paint him as the "abortion candidate."

Of course, it's no coincidence that politicians are constantly asked about late-term abortion. When, if ever, do we talk about first-trimester abortion, which accounts for almost 90 percent of all abortions in this country? When do we get to talk about much more common reproductive health care needs--like prenatal care, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections? What about breast and cervical cancer?

The answer is "rarely," and there's a reason why. In the 1990s, anti-abortion rights activists identified an extremely effective strategy when they crafted their campaign against what they called " partial-birth abortion." By describing it as if it were being performed on fully developed, viable fetuses, they connected abortion to infanticide in people's minds.

They ignored the fact that the procedure (before Congress banned it) was used primarily around the midpoint of pregnancy, well before a fetus could survive outside the womb, and that no type of abortion is performed in this country after a fetus is viable, unless there is a medical reason.

But by conjuring up the specter of infanticide, opponents of abortion rights have been able to exploit the ambivalent feelings most Americans have about abortion. Americans' support for abortion varies tremendously based on the point in time at which it occurs: the farther a pregnancy progresses, the less comfortable most people are with allowing abortion. ......(more)

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