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 Est. 1998




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Quotations about Abortion, Choice,
Reproductive Rights, Roe v. Wade, etc.


SEE ALSO:  BIRTH CONTROL HUMAN RIGHTS POLITICS DECISIONS FEMINISM RUTH BADER GINSBURG PREGNANCY CHILDLESSNESS LOSS OF CHILD


The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman's life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices. ~Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 1993


      There is much debate in this country over abortion. I have always found it puzzling. There are the right-to-lifers who say that abortion is the equivalent of murder. Then there are those who say a woman's right of free choice must be preserved. What has always struck me as odd is that each side is convinced that only it is right, and the other is wrong.
      I feel they are both wrong. No one should take away another person's right to choose. And no one should kill an unborn infant. Of course I could just as easily say both sides are right, but I won't. It's a paradox that can't be resolved. I think it is better to admit that than pretend there is a resolution. ~Christopher Pike, Whisper of Death, 1991


I have met thousands and thousands of pro-choice men and women. I have never met anyone who is pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is not being pro-abortion. Being pro-choice is trusting the individual to make the right decision for herself and her family, and not entrusting that decision to anyone wearing the authority of government in any regard. ~Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1999


No woman wants an abortion. A woman who has one is almost always in a desperate situation, and her decision is not made lightly. She deserves Christian compassion, not... self-righteous scorn... ~Jean Peterman, 1973


I consider abortion to be a deeply personal and intimate issue for women and I don't believe male legislators should even vote on the issue. ~Alan Simpson, 2012


The States are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies. ~Harry A. Blackmun, 1986


This right of privacy... is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy. ~Harry A. Blackmun, Roe v. Wade, 1973 January 22nd


No woman wants an abortion. Either she wants a child or she wishes to avoid pregnancy. ~Author unknown, from a letter to the Lancet, unverified


Against abortion? Don't have one. ~Author unknown


Steinem's revolutionary rhetoric boils down to mild reformism.... one: equal pay.... two: reproductive freedom... Most of us grant the fairness of that; no woman should be compelled to bear a child against her will; compulsory maternity amounts to rape by the state.... three: an equal sharing of political power.... four: "cultural parity." ~Edward Abbey, "The Future of Sex: A Reaction to a Pair of Books — Brownmiller's Femininity and Steinem's Outrageous Acts," 1980s


Abolition of a woman's right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State. ~Edward Abbey, Vox Clamantis in Deserto, 1989


      But the preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces; what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities.
      We are not going back to the Dark Ages. We are not going to let anybody in this country have that kind of power over any girl or woman. There are great powers, outside the government and in it, trying to legislate the return of darkness. We are not great powers. But we are the light. Nobody can put us out. ~Ursula K. Le Guin, "The Princess," 1982


77% percent of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never be pregnant. ~Planned Parenthood and Pro-Choice Public Education Project advertisement by DeVito/Verdi, c.1998, plannedparenthood.org, protectchoice.org, devitoverdi.com


The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control. ~Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 1974


      The practice of abortion was one to which few persons in antiquity attached any deep feeling of condemnation... A long chain of writers, both Pagan and Christian, represent the practice as avowed and almost universal... It was probably regarded by the average Romans... much as Englishmen in the last century regarded convivial excesses, as certainly wrong, but so venial as scarcely to deserve censure...
      But to the theologian this infant life possessed a fearful significance. The moment, they taught, the fœtus in the womb acquired animation, it became an immortal being, destined, even if it died unborn, to be raised again on the last day, responsible for the sin of Adam, and doomed, if it perished without baptism, to be excluded for ever from heaven and to be cast, as the Greeks taught, into a painless and joyless limbo, or, as the Latins taught, into the abyss of hell... and the criminality of abortion was immeasurably aggravated when it was believed to involve, not only the extinction of a transient life, but also the damnation of an immortal soul. ~William Edward Hartpole Lecky, History of European Morals, "From Constantine to Charlemagne," 1869


I cannot understand anti-abortion arguments that center on the sanctity of life. As a species, we've fairly comprehensively demonstrated that we don't believe in the sanctity of life. The shrugging acceptance of war, famine, epidemic, pain, and lifelong, grinding poverty show us that, whatever we tell ourselves, we've made only the most feeble of efforts to really treat human life as sacred. ~Caitlin Moran, How To Be a Woman, 2011, U.S. edition, caitlinmoran.co.uk


I am politically pro-choice, but personally pro-life. I have my faith but refuse to force it on the world at large — especially this world, so brutal and unjust. I cannot make these wrenching personal life and death decisions for others — nor do I believe they should be made by a church run by childless men... Even though I'm personally pro-life, I acknowledge that I cannot wholly predict my own decisions if faced with any number of life-altering scenarios — rape, incest, the horrific suffering of my own child, etc. ~Julianna Baggott, "Sister Margaret McBride: Don't Confess," 2010


      [W]e must stop letting Republicans name themselves "pro-life" and Democrats as "pro-choice." It is a huge distortion.
      In my world, you don't get to call yourself "pro-life" and be against common-sense gun control — like banning public access to the kind of semiautomatic assault rifle, designed for warfare.... You don't get to call yourself "pro-life" and want to shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which ensures clean air and clean water, prevents childhood asthma, preserves biodiversity and combats climate change that could disrupt every life on the planet.... You can call yourself a "pro-conception-to-birth, indifferent-to-life conservative."
      The term "pro-life" should be a shorthand for respect for the sanctity of life. But I will not let that label apply to people for whom sanctity for life begins at conception and ends at birth. What about the rest of life? Respect for the sanctity of life, if you believe that it begins at conception, cannot end at birth. ~Thomas L. Friedman, "Why I Am Pro-Life," 2012, in The New York Times, nytimes.com, thomaslfriedman.com


      "There's something wrong with my baby," I blurted... "The doctors told me that if she lives — if — she's going to be so sick. So, so sick. And I'm not supposed to think about it, but I don't understand why it's a sin if you love something and want to keep it from having to suffer..."
      "My baby would have been two years, six months, and four days old today," she said. "There was something wrong with her, something genetic... I gave in, and my doctor induced me at twenty-two weeks... Here's what no one tells you... You can't win. Either you have the baby and wear your pain on the outside, or you don't have the baby, and you keep that ache in you forever. I know I didn't do the wrong thing. But I don't feel like I did the right thing, either." ~Jodi Picoult, Handle with Care, 2009, jodipicoult.com


      There is no right to life in any society on Earth today, nor has there been at any former time (with a few rare exceptions, such as among the Jains of India): We raise farm animals for slaughter; destroy forests; pollute rivers and lakes until no fish can live there; kill deer and elk for sport, leopards for the pelts, and whales for fertilizer; entrap dolphins, gasping and writhing, in great tuna nets; club seal pups to death; and render a species extinct every day. All these beasts and vegetables are as alive as we are. What is (allegedly) protected is not life, but human life...
      That protection, that right to life, eludes the 40,000 children under five who die on our planet each day from preventable starvation, dehydration, disease, and neglect.
      Those who assert a "right to life" are for (at most) not just any kind of life, but for — particularly and uniquely — human life. So they too, like pro-choicers, must decide what distinguishes a human being from other animals... ~Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, "Abortion: Is It Possible to Be Both 'Pro-Life' and 'Pro-Choice'?," 1990


      Birth control reduces unwanted pregnancies. Fewer unwanted pregnancies reduces abortion. So if you really want to cut down on abortion, you should be making birth control more available, not less.
      But of course, the Repressives know this. They're just doing what they always do in an election year: playing to their hard-core constituents by threatening to hurt a population that's already hurting and can't fight back, hoping the rest of us won't notice or won't care....
      It still takes two to do the pregnancy tango, so instead of going after the women year after year, why not try, in alternating election cycles, going after the men?
      Maybe some brave lawmaker could propose forced sterilization for any man who impregnates a woman while he's earning less than the federal poverty income guidelines, married or single....
      How about this: They could threaten low-income women in years that end with 2 and 6, and men in years that end in 4 and 8. In years that end in 0, they could take a hard-earned rest.
      So now it falls to the state Senate to stop this wrongheaded measure. Once again, I remind them that a woman's reproductive organs are not big enough to accommodate both ideology and gynecology. They're going to have to pick one, and it better not be health care. ~Sally Kalson, "Legislators insult our intelligence again," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2002


      If my younger sister were in a car accident and needed a blood transfusion to live, and I was the only person on earth who could donate blood to save her, and even though donating blood is a relatively easy, safe, and quick procedure no one can force me to give blood. Even to save the life of a fully grown person, it would be illegal to force me to donate blood if I didn't want to.
      We have a concept called "bodily autonomy," a notion that a people's control over their own bodies is above all important and must not be infringed upon. We cannot even take life-saving organs from corpses unless the person gave consent before death. Even corpses have bodily autonomy.
      To tell people that they must sacrifice their bodily autonomy for nine months against their will is an incredibly expensive, invasive, difficult process that is desperately unethical. You can't even ask people to sacrifice bodily autonomy to give up organs they aren't using anymore after they have died.
      You're asking women to accept less bodily autonomy than we grant to dead bodies. ~Rosie, fandomsandfeminism.tumblr.com, 2013, response to "'My body, my choice' only makes sense when someone else's life isn't at stake"


...the goal of the right is not to stop abortion but to demonize it, punish it and make it as difficult and traumatic as possible. All this it has accomplished fairly well, even without overturning Roe v. Wade. ~Ellen Willis, 2006


If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. ~Anonymous taxi driver, said to Florynce Kennedy and Gloria Steinem, popularized by Kennedy and Steinem in 1971 speeches  [quoteinvestigator.com/2013/09/11/men-pregnant]


      Abortion is legal. My friends, some of them here do not like that. So there has been this huge attempt to narrow this right...
      Now, what does Roe guarantee to women? In the decision of the Supreme Court, the Court found that a woman's reproductive decisions are a privacy right guaranteed by the Constitution. But I have to say that even though this right was granted to women, it was not an unbalanced decision. It was a very moderate decision. That is why, in my opinion, the majority of Americans support it.
      In the early stages of a pregnancy, the Government cannot intervene with a woman's right to choose. That is it, plain and simple. Guess what. We are not going to be big brother or sister, as the case may be. We are going to allow a woman, her doctor, and her God to make that decision.
      But in the later stages of pregnancy, Roe found that the Government can intervene, that it can regulate, that it can restrict abortion. We all support that. All of us support that. But there is one caveat — always, always, always. Any law that a State may pass to restrict abortion rights has to have an exception to protect the life of the woman or to protect her health. ~Barbara Boxer, U.S. Senator (D–CA), 2003


We are not here to advocate abortion. We do not ask this Court to rule that abortion is good or desirable in any particular situation. We are here to advocate that the decision as to whether or not a particular woman will continue to carry or will terminate a pregnancy is a decision that should be made by that individual. That, in fact, she has a constitutional right to make that decision for herself and that the state has shown no interest in interfering with that decision. ~Sarah Weddington, 1972


[I]t is unthinkable to allow complete strangers, whether individually or collectively as state legislators or others in government, to make such personal decisions for someone else. ~Sarah Weddington, A Question of Choice, 1993


It is time to renew the battle for reproductive rights. We have been outmaneuvered, outspent, outpostured, and outvoted by a group of single-issue activists. It has taken them nearly two decades to turn back the principles of Roe. Let's make sure it takes us a shorter time to replace protection for reproductive choice. ~Sarah Weddington, A Question of Choice, 1993


George W. Bush will protect your unborn fetus then send your grown child to die in war. ~Rick Claro, c.2005


Two of the most energetic pro-lifers of all time were Hitler and Stalin — who immediately upon taking power criminalized previously legal abortions. Mussolini, Ceaușescu, and countless other nationalist dictators and tyrants have done likewise. Of course, this is not by itself a pro-choice argument, but it does alert us to the possibility that being against abortion may not always be part of a deep commitment to human life. ~Carl Sagan


Abortion is only a symptom of a more deep-seated disorder of the social state. It cannot be put down by law... Childbearing is not a disease, but a beautiful office of nature... Abortion is the choice of evils for such women. Is there, then, no remedy for all this bad state of things? None, I solemnly believe; none, by means of repression and law. I believe there is no other remedy possible but freedom in the social sphere. ~Tennessee Claflin, 1871


And I've noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born. ~Ronald Reagan, 1980


Only half the patients who go into an abortion clinic come out alive. ~Author unknown


If the anti-abortion movement took a tenth of the energy they put into noisy theatrics and devoted it to improving the lives of children who have been born into lives of poverty, violence, and neglect, they could make a world shine. ~Michael Jay Tucker, unverified


Society does not need more children; but it does need more loved children. Quite literally, we cannot afford unloved children — but we pay heavily for them every day. There should not be the slightest communal concern when a woman elects to destroy the life of her thousandth-of-an-ounce embryo. But all society should rise up in alarm when it hears that a baby that is not wanted is about to be born. ~Garrett Hardin, c.1980, unverified


Abortion doesn't belong in the political arena. It's a private right, like many other rights concerning the family. ~Bella Abzug, unverified


Republicans are against abortion until their daughters need one, Democrats are for abortion until their daughter wants one. ~Grace McGarvie, unverified



Post-Roe Era


This page was originally published in the 25th anniversary year of Roe v. Wade. Unfortunately, that decision didn't get to see its fiftieth. Below are some updated quotations. —tg, June 2022


After today, young women will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers had. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


In overruling Roe and Casey, this Court betrays its guiding principles. With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is waging a full-scale war on modernity. ~Pema Levy, "The Supreme Court Is Waging a Full-Scale War on Modern Life," MotherJones.com, 2022 June 24th


In a reckless fit of judicial activism that will redound for generations, the Supreme Court on Friday overturned Roe v. Wade, the half-century-old precedent that declared that Americans have a constitutional right to obtain abortions. It is hard to exaggerate how wrongheaded, radical and dangerous this ruling is, and not just for anyone who could ever become pregnant. A 5-to-4 majority has thrust the country and the court itself into a perilous new era, one in which the court is no longer a defender of key personal rights. ~Editorial Board, The Washington Post, "The Supreme Court’s radical abortion ruling begins a dangerous new era," 2022 June 24th, washingtonpost.com


Whatever the exact scope of the coming laws, one result of today’s decision is certain: the curtailment of women’s rights, and of their status as free and equal citizens... The Constitution will, today’s majority holds, provide no shield, despite its guarantees of liberty and equality for all. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


No matter your political leanings, it’s clear the Republicans in power had a clear strategy, and played a long game. It took place right out in the open. Now that they’ve succeeded on Roe, expect them to push “repeat.” ~Micheline Maynard, @MickiMaynard, tweet, 2022 June 24th


      So the Court struck a balance, as it often does when values and goals compete. It held that the State could prohibit abortions after fetal viability, so long as the ban contained exceptions to safeguard a woman’s life or health. It held that even before viability, the State could regulate the abortion procedure in multiple and meaningful ways. But until the viability line was crossed, the Court held, a State could not impose a “substantial obstacle” on a woman’s “right to elect the procedure” as she (not the government) thought proper, in light of all the circumstances and complexities of her own life.
      Today, the Court discards that balance. It says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of. A State can force her to bring a pregnancy to term, even at the steepest personal and familial costs. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


The court’s decision is so emphatic, and so contemptuous of the principle of stare decisis, that one wonders whether the unvarnished radicalism of the decision will finally rouse millions of Americans to the threat posed by a court untethered to law, precedent or reason... The right-wing majority’s willingness to countenance an all-powerful state that interferes with every aspect of our lives is breathtaking. ~Jennifer Rubin, "The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy," washingtonpost.com, 2022 June 24th


Today’s decision... forces her to carry out the State’s will, whatever the circumstances and whatever the harm it will wreak on her and her family. In the Fourteenth Amendment’s terms, it takes away her liberty. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


My heart cries for girls and women in the United States. A huge setback. The right to free abortion is one of the most fundamental rights that exists. We must never compromise on women's unrestricted right to decide over their own bodies and futures. ~Mette Frederiksen, Prime Minister of Denmark, 2022 June 24th


      The threshold question of whether abortion is legal needs to be consistent at a national level. States can account for regional differences with regulations like parental notification requirements, but the basic right needs to be the same for all American women.
      The Supreme Court has abandoned a fifty-year precedent at a time that the country is desperate for stability. This ill-considered action will further divide the country at a moment when, more than ever in modern times, we need the Court to show both consistency and restraint. Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative. It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government. ~Susan Collins, U.S. Senator (R–ME), 2022 June 24th


In other words: the majority’s reliance on the laws of centuries yore is not a bug, but a feature. Alito and his fellow conservatives on the court have embraced “history” to justify their decisions. History here belongs in scare quotes because the goal of a historical test for the court here seems to be to pick and choose the artifacts they want. ~Pema Levy, "The Supreme Court Is Waging a Full-Scale War on Modern Life," MotherJones.com, 2022 June 24th


Friday’s ruling was another reminder, for a country that needs no more, that Americans cannot take for granted the freedoms they enjoy. ~Editorial Board, The Washington Post, "The Supreme Court’s radical abortion ruling begins a dangerous new era," washingtonpost.com, 2022 June 24th


The legal framework Roe and Casey developed to balance the competing interests in this sphere has proved workable in courts across the country. No recent developments, in either law or fact, have eroded or cast doubt on those precedents. Nothing, in short, has changed. Indeed, the Court in Casey already found all of that to be true. Casey is a precedent about precedent. It reviewed the same arguments made here in support of overruling Roe, and it found that doing so was not warranted. The Court reverses course today for one reason and one reason only: because the composition of this Court has changed. Stare decisis, this Court has often said, “contributes to the actual and perceived integrity of the judicial process” by ensuring that decisions are “founded in the law rather than in the proclivities of individuals.” Payne v. Tennessee, 501 U. S. 808, 827 (1991); Vasquez v. Hillery, 474 U. S. 254, 265 (1986). Today, the proclivities of individuals rule. The Court departs from its obligation to faithfully and impartially apply the law. We dissent. ~Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, Associate Justices, Supreme Court of the United States, dissenting, Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, 2022 June 24th, supremecourt.gov


The dissent also underscores the enormous damage to women’s self-determination, autonomy and equal status as persons. And it rightly attacks the garbled history in the majority opinion, noting that the Constitution was ratified before women had the vote. In essence, the court elevates male dominance to a constitutional imperative in the 21st century. ~Jennifer Rubin, "The Supreme Court eviscerates abortion rights and its own legitimacy," washingtonpost.com, 2022 June 24th


Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues — attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans... Join with the activists who've been sounding the alarm on abortion access for years — and act. Stand with them at a local protest. Volunteer with one of their organizations. Knock on doors for a candidate you believe in. Vote on or before November 8 and in every other election. Because in the end, if we want judges who will protect all, and not just some, of our rights, then we've got to elect officials committed to doing the same. ~Barack Obama, 2022 June 24th


I am heartbroken for people around this country who just lost the fundamental right to make informed decisions about their own bodies... This is what our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers lived through, and now here we are again. ~Michelle Obama, 2022 June 24th





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published 1998 Mar 18
revised 1999, 2021, 2022
last saved 2022 Sep 18
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