Few sociopolitical issues polarize contemporary American politics as much as abortion. Although most polls indicate that a majority of Americans support the legality of abortion, a host of corollary issues remain quite controversial: These include parental and/or spousal notification, the role of states and the courts in crafting abortion policy, and the moral and ethical questions invoked by various abortive procedures such as “partial birth.” Contemporary abortion discourse remains emotionally charged on both sides with abortion rights advocates arguing that reproductive choice is a fundamental right of all women and opponents of the practice claiming that nearly any form of abortion for nearly any reason is “murder.”

The conflict over reproductive choice in the United States dates back to 1821 when Connecticut became the first state ...

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