The Public Interest

The class conflict over abortion

Peter Skerry

Summer 1978

THERE are several persistent misconceptions about the continuing controversy over abortion in the United States. One error is to dismiss anti-abortion sentiment as nothing but the view of a few well-financed zealots. Evidence from national opinion polls, however, demonstrates widespread opposition to abortion on demand (which, in essence, is what the Supreme Court granted in 1973 with its decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton). It is a serious mistake to underestimate the strength of the anti-abortion movement, which was able to bring 40,000 marchers to Washington in January 1977, during one of the coldest winters on record. Moreover, the 201-to-155 majority by which the House of Representatives, in June 1977, passed the Hyde amendment (which would prohibit Federal funding of all abortions, even when necessary to save a mother’s life) certainly reflects a significant level of nationwide anti-abortion sentiment.

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