Anti-abortion movements

"Pro-life" redirects here. For other uses, see Pro-life (disambiguation).

Anti-abortion movements, also referred to as pro-life movements, are involved in the abortion debate advocating against the practice of abortion and its legality. Many anti-abortion movements began as countermovements in response to the legalization of elective abortions. Abortion is the intentional termination of a human pregnancy. On January 22, 1973, two cases simultaneously handed downed by the Supreme Court of the United States, Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, legalized abortions in all 50 states. There are roughly 1.06 million abortions that happen every year throughout the United States, with the most being in California at 181,730 abortions.


By some, especially on the media, the terms used in the debate are seen as political framing: they are terms used to validate one stance while invalidating the opposition's. For example, the labels "pro-choice" and "pro-life" imply endorsement of widely held values such as liberty and freedom, while suggesting that the opposition must be "anti-choice" or "anti-life" (alternatively "pro-coercion" or "pro-death").[1] The Associated Press favors the terms "abortion rights" and "anti-abortion" instead.[2]

However, some in the "pro-life" movement view the term "anti-abortion" as an inaccurate media label as well.[3] For example, not all who would describe themselves as "pro-life" are opposed to abortion if the life of the mother is in certain danger. Also, for many in the "pro-life" movement, the word "life" reflects the core value and truth for which they sincerely believe their causes represents.[4] Biologically, a human life begins before birth (i.e., at fertilization, when the genetic material which will develop into a fetus first assumes zygote form and acquires unique DNA), and many feel that human life is valuable and worthy of protection at all stages.[5] This view is heavily influenced by religious belief in many, but not all cases. There is significant philosophical debate regarding whether human embryos acquire personhood and human rights upon genetic formation or upon fetal viability.

Philosophical and legal arguments

Further information: Abortion debate

Anti-abortion advocates cite moral and philosophical arguments against both the acceptability or legality of abortion. Many advocates also hold religious objections to abortion.

Movements by country


Each Life Matters demonstration in Madrid, Spain, on 17 October 2009

In Europe, abortion law varies by country, and has been legalized through parliamentary acts in some countries, and constitutionally banned (or heavily restricted) in others.. In Western Europe this has had the effect at once of both more closely regulating the use of abortion, and at the same time mediating and reducing the impact anti-abortion campaigns have had on the law.[6]


The first specifically anti-abortion organization in France, Laissez-les-vivre-SOS futures mères, was created in 1971 during the debate that was to lead to the Veil Law in 1975. Its main spokesman was the geneticist Jérôme Lejeune. Since 2005, the French anti-abortion movement has organized an annual March for Life.[7]


There are several major anti-abortion groups in the Republic of Ireland, Pro Life Campaign, Youth Defence and Iona Institute.


In Liechtenstein an application to legalize abortions was rejected by a slim majority in a referendum in 2011. The opponents, which included Prince Alois, got 500 votes more and eventually settled at 52.3 percent compared with 47.7 percent.[8]

Prince Alois had announced the use of his veto in advance if necessary to prevent the introduction of abortion.[9]


In Spain, over one million demonstrators took part in a march in Madrid in October 2009 to protest plans by the government of José Luis Zapatero to legalize elective abortions and eliminate parental consent restrictions.[10]

In 2010 1,067,315 Spaniards signed a petition against the liberal abortion policy of the government. The petition was launched by the organizations "Derecho a vivir" (right to life) and "Hazteoir" (Let your voice be heard).[11]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, the most prominent anti-abortion organization is the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. It was formed to "uphold the principle of respect for human life, in particular the life of the unborn child" at the time of the passage of the 1967 Abortion Act which liberalized abortion law. It was the first such organization in the world.[12]

Middle East and North Africa

In Israel, the major anti-abortion organization is Efrat.[13] Efrat activists primarily raise funds to relieve the "financial and social pressures" on pregnant women so that they will not terminate their pregnancies. However, this activity is only carried out in the Jewish sector in Israeli society, as Efrat officially views abortion among Jews as a demographic threat to the Jewish people.[14]



In Canada, the American-based organization Silent No More advocates legislation prohibiting late-term and partial birth abortions.[15]


The Chilean movement is called Siempre por la Vida (always for the life).[16]

United States

The United States pro-life movement formed as a response to the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton Supreme Court decisions, with many pro-life organizations having emerged since then. There is also a smaller consistent life ethic movement, favoring a philosophy which opposes all forms of killing, including abortion, war, euthanasia, and capital punishment.

The current pro-life movement is in part a continuation of previous debates on abortion that led to the practice being banned in all states in the late 19th century. The initial movement was led by physicians, but also included politicians and feminists. Among physicians, advances in medical knowledge played a significant role in influencing anti-abortion opinion. Quickening, which had previously been thought to be the point at which the soul entered a human was discovered to be a relatively unimportant step in fetal development, causing them to rethink their position of early term abortions. [17] Ideologically, the Hippocratic Oath and the medical mentality of that age to defend the value of human life as an absolute, also played a significant role in molding opinions about abortion. [17]

Meanwhile, feminists tended to regard abortion as an undesirable necessity forced upon women by thoughtless men. [18] Even the "free love" wing of the feminist movement refused to advocate abortion and treated the practice as an example of the hideous extremes to which modern marriage was driving women.[19] Marital rape and the seduction of unmarried women were societal ills which feminists believed caused the need to abort, as men did not respect women's right to abstinence.[19]


In South Africa, the anti-abortion organization is called Pro-Life Generation. In Africa, according to the most recent estimates, at least 9% of maternal deaths (16,000)annually were due to unsafe abortion. About 1.6 million women in the region are treated annually for complications from unsafe abortion. [20]

See also


  1. Holstein and Gubrium (2008). Handbook of Constructionist Research. Guilford Press.
  2. Goldstein, Norm, ed. The Associated Press Stylebook. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2007.
  3. NR Interview (13 November 2013). "What's 'Pro-Life,' Anyway?". National Review Online. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  4. "Prolife OBGYNS – AAPLOG – American Association of Pro-life Obstetricians & Gynecologists » About Us". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  5. "Pro-Life vs. Anti-Abortion". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  6. Outshoorn, Joyce (1996). "The stability of compromise: Abortion politics in Western Europe". In Marianne Givens and Dorothy M. Stetson. Abortion politics: public policy in cross-cultural perspective. Routledge. p. 161. ...parliamentary decision are sustained by political parties which, in comparison to the United States, are deeply rooted in European society. The political parties have managed to regulate and pacify the political reform process, which in the decision-making stage marginalized opposition outside parliament.
  7. "Thousands take part in Paris anti-abortion march". Euronews. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  8. "In Liechtenstein bleiben Abtreibungen verboten". Focus. 2011-09-18. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  9. "Radikal für das Leben! , 08 September 2012". Zukunft CH. 2012-09-28. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  10. "Agence France Presse, 17 October 2009". 2009-10-17. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
  11. "Spanien: Mehr als eine Million unterschreiben gegen Abtreibung , 23 February 2010". Blaue Narzisse. 2010-02-23. Retrieved 2014-12-17.
  12. "History". Society for the Protection of Unborn Children.
  13. "Pro-Choice vs. Pro-Life". Retrieved 31 May 2015.
  14. "How Efrat Saves Lives". Retrieved 24 December 2015.
  15. "Canada Silent No More - Home". Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  16. "Bachelet to Redact Chile's Abortion Prohibition before End of 2014". PanAm Post. 26 June 2014. Retrieved 4 February 2016.
  17. 1 2 James C. Mohr (1978). Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy. Oxford University Press/. pp. 35–36.
  18. Mohr, James C. (1978). Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy. Oxford University Press. p. 110.
  19. 1 2 James C. Mohr (1978). Abortion in America: The Origins and Evolution of National Policy. Oxford University Press/. p. 112.

External links

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