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The GOP’s Abortion Strategy: Why Pro-Choice Republicans Became Pro-Life in the 1970s

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2011

Daniel K. Williams*
University of West Georgia


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Copyright © Donald Critchlow and Cambridge University Press 2011

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1. Layman, Geoffrey, The Great Divide: Religious and Cultural Conflict in American Party Politics (New York, 2001)Google Scholar, 124. The terms “pro-choice” and “pro-life” have such heavy political connotations that some scholars refuse to use them. Donald Critchlow uses the terms “antiabortion” and “proabortion,” which were commonly used terms in the early 1970s, in Intended Consequences: Birth Control, Abortion, and the Federal Government in Modern America (New York, 1999). In contrast, Leslie Cannold, an advocate of abortion rights, uses the terms “pro-choice” and “anti-choice” in The Abortion Myth: Feminism, Morality, and the Hard Choices Women Make (Hanover, N.H., 2000). Other scholars who have avoided use of the polemical term “anti-choice” have also shied away from the term “pro-life,” preferring to use the term “antiabortion” instead. But I follow the lead of scholars such as Luker, Kristin (author of Abortion and the Politics of Motherhood [Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1984])Google Scholar, who designate the two sides in this controversy as “pro-choice” and “pro-life,” the terms that each side has generally used as self-monikers. For the sake of consistency, and in order to be fair to both sides in this political debate, I use the terms “antiabortion,” “pro-life,” and “right-to-life” to refer to opponents of abortion who seek to use the law to restrict its availability, and “pro-choice” and “supporters of abortion rights” to refer to the proponents of keeping abortion legal.

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