Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War
In his gripping, behind-the-scenes account, journalist William Saletan reveals exactly how, thirty years after Roe v. Wade, “pro-choice” conservatives have won the abortion war. Having successfully turned abortion into a privacy issue, conservatives now prevail on issues ranging from abortion’s legality and parental notification to Medicaid, rape, and cloning; consequently, reproductive autonomy is now becoming inaccessible to the young and the poor. This eye-opening exposé tells how abortion rights activists–people who desired social change, women’s equality, and broader access to health care–have had their message co-opted in a culture of privacy and limited government. Bearing Right is also a story about the essentially conservative character of the United States today.
Saletan tells how, beginning in Arkansas in 1986 during the administration of Governor Bill Clinton, the National Abortion Rights Action League repackaged the abortion issue to give it broader appeal to conservatives. Pro-choice conservatives adopted this new rhetoric and made the abortion issue their own. Saletan takes us through the key events in the ensuing story–the fight over the nomination of Judge Robert Bork, the election of Governor Doug Wilder in Virginia, the convergence of the Bush and Clinton positions on abortion in 1992, and much more–right up to the present day.
This book is a crucial lesson in how politicians and interest groups can change the way we vote, not by telling us facts or lies, but by reshaping the way we think–in part through mass marketing. Today, the abortion rights movement must ask itself what it has won and what it is fighting for. This book is sure to play a role in answering that question.