About Abortion: The Complications of the Category

My subject this afternoon is abortion, a subject that for the last 40 years has embedded itself in American consciousness, American politics, and American culture with remarkable durability and reach. Looking only at the first decade of this century—from George W. Bush to Barack Obama, to use two presidential landmarks—abortion has been central to how Americans conceptualize, debate, and sometimes resolve all sorts of things: foreign aid, health care reform, high school sex education, and judicial nominations to the Supreme Court. Abortion has been at the heart of disputes over what products Walmart keeps on its shelves, whether Super Bowl fans should watch or boycott half-time advertisements, and what health care services are available to pregnant servicewomen serving abroad. Reliably divisive, the subject is never far out of sight; it stands at the ready to stir the pot or, depending on one’s viewpoint, to bring sudden clarity to whatever issue is under discussion.

| View PDF | Appears in Volume 54, Issue 4

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