In this 2006 volume, sociologist Anne Hendershott gives an excellent history of The Politics of Abortion. Among other things, Hendershott shows how the Democratic Party went from being the champion of the little guy to abandoning the most defenseless among us. Although Ted Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson and many other democratic luminaries once articulated pro-life convictions, the party of the New Deal, Medicare, and Aid to Families with Dependent Children, has become the party of Abortion on Demand. In just the first few chapters of this book, the reader learns about:
1. How, via Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court advanced a particular agenda by effectively silencing the normal, political debate on abortion at the state level (even though some states had already passed pro-choice legislation).
2. How abortion-industry capitalists teamed up with radical feminists in the late 1960s to define abortion as a basic right.
3. A clandestine meeting at the Kennedy home in Hyannis Port, MA in the summer of 1964 where leading Catholic theologians and professors helped Senator Ted Kennedy (of MA) and Robert Kennedy (then running for a NY Senate seat) and others in their family accept and even promote abortion with a "clear conscience".
4. How academic leaders in the Catholic community have been enlisted to promote the pro-choice position, in spite of the official Catholic teaching against abortion (giving cover and talking points to leaders such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President-Elect Joe Biden).
5. How large sums of campaign money lured Democratic leadership into pushing aside pro-life democrats. For example, Governor of Pennsylvania Robert Casey was denied a speaking role in the 1992 Democratic National Convention in spite of his impressive record of accomplishments. Others lost elections due to insufficient financial support. Hendershott also discusses the pro-choice lurching every four years in the Democratic primary, as candidates seek to out-maneuver one another in loyalty to the pro-choice cause (often, as in Al Gore's case, having to recant and distort their public record).
6. The pervasively racist leanings of Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood.
7. The deep ambivalence regarding abortion on the part of Democratic politicians well into the 1980s. Jesse Jackson once observed that the "privacy" argument used to justify the Roe decision was "the premise of slavery."
I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand the history of the legal and political battles on abortion.
By the way, I will be posting an interview with Dr. Hendershott on my blog in late January 2009. Just google my name and it will come up at the top.