On 10th November the CEO of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, told CNS News ‘I think that Roe vs. Wade was on the ballot in this election’.
The “Pro-life” “Pro-choice” debate is one that has split America ever since the landmark case of “Roe v Wade” in 1973 in which Supreme Court justices ruled that abortion is a fundamental right protected by the United States Constitution. Since that time the debate around the morality of abortion has been raging hard, and it came to a head in the recent US election.
For the first time American voters were faced with a stark choice on the issue of abortion. On the one hand Hilary Clinton is a passionate advocate for “abortion rights” and has a close relationship with Planned Parenthood (a major provider of abortions in the US) who gave Clinton at least 20 million dollars to support her election bid. On the other hand Donald Trump surprised many when he came out as Pro-life in the run-up to the elections and selected a Catholic, pro-life working mother of four, Kellyanne Conway, to be his campaign manager.
At a rally hosted by Planned Parenthood on 10th January 2016 Clinton angered many when she called for an end to the Hyde Amendment. Why is this a big deal? Well, the Hyde Amendment is a piece of legislation that blocks state money (collected from citizen’s taxes) being used to fund abortion. This had been seen as a way of keeping everyone happy as Pro-lifers weren’t having their taxes used for abortions but Pro-choicers were happy that abortion was still legally available. Clinton however saw this as unjust because it meant that poorer women might not be able to afford the prices charged by abortion providers.
In her Planned Parenthood speech Clinton also spoke passionately about her desire to tackle what she calls ‘harassment and intimidation’ by pro-life groups. Clinton here was referring to the growth of pro-life groups such as 40 Days for Life which meet outside abortion clinics to pray and offer alternatives to abortion. The group has attracted thousands of supporters all over the world and, in addition to supporting women who have chosen not to go ahead with abortion, has helped many abortion workers leave their jobs. These include Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood ‘employee of the year’, who now speaks about her experience working for Planned Parenthood.
Clinton is also more extreme than many other pro-choice politicians in that she voted against a a ban on late-term partial birth abortions, which (although rare) may be carried out days before a mother is due to give birth.
Where does Trump stand on the issue?
Trump has reportedly changed his mind on abortion, having spoken out in an interview on NBC in 1993 as someone who ‘hates abortion’ but ‘believes in choice.’ He has since said in interviews leading up to the election, that a personal experience involving his friends who chose to keep their child, has convinced him of the Pro-life position. Since changing his mind on the issue he has pledged to appoint Pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, who could potentially overturn Roe v Wade.
However some pro-lifers remain unconvinced about the sincerity of his change of heart. One young Pro-life American woman we spoke to stated, ‘I will not claim that I understand Trump’s inner conscience, but my impression was his opinion to be anti-abortion has more to do with what he thought would get him votes than any personal conviction.’ Furthermore, Trump’s comment that women should be punished for obtaining an abortion, if they became illegal, caused an outcry from all camps, including pro-lifers. Although he retracted the statement and clarified that it would be the doctor who would receive punishment, it seemed to betray a lack of thought for the wider issues.
With the elections now over and Trump due to be sworn in to the White House on 20th January, both pro-lifers and pro-choicers will be waiting with bated breath to see how this critical human rights issue is dealt with by the 45th President of the United States.
Photos: Hillary Clinton ©Krista Kennell / Shutterstock.com
Donald Trump © stock_photo_world / Shutterstock.com