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From Roe to Casey: The Battle over Abortion Rights

The Pro-Choice/Pro-Life Debate

At the center of the contemporary policy debate is a bitter battle between feminists and religious conservatives over the control of reproduction. On questions of contraception and abortion, feminist goals have remained fairly consistent. Feminists believe that women must have freedom and effective choice in deciding when and if to bear a child. To them, choice means not only the removal of legal barriers to contraception and abortion but also full access to information and services from public and private agencies regardless of the woman’s economic circumstances. They believe women must be full participants in making decisions about their health care. To play this role, women require complete and accurate information. Feminists also believe there should be continuing research for safe contraceptive and abortion methods; only with such a policy, they say, can women exercise their civil rights, have legal equality, and take advantage of opportunities for achievement in all aspects of life. Feminists see reproductive freedom as the substance of independence and freedom for women in family and sexual relations. It is crucial to empowerment in all social relations.