Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

A War Shifts Its Ground

November 02, 1994

It seems no small coincidence that a trial involving the murder of an abortion doctor is in the news at the same time that clinical tests of RU486, the so-called abortion pill, are getting under way.

The national controversy over abortion is now in a new stage; clearly the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans on this question has shifted its ground. The constitutional arguments that once preoccupied courts have receded, and the major political parties are largely sidestepping the issue. Women in need of abortions and the doctors who provide them are pretty much on their own and more than ever are on the firing line.

Since 1977, hundreds of bombings, arson attacks, acts of vandalism and threats have been directed at abortion clinics across the nation. In 1993 the threats became deadly reality when Dr. David Gunn was murdered outside a clinic in Pensacola, Fla. Then earlier this year another abortion doctor, John Britton, was killed, also in Pensacola; Paul Hill, whose trial began Monday, is charged in the case.

Hill represents the anti-abortion movement's violent fringe, a collection of individuals committed to choking off women's access to abortions in any way they can, regardless of the law. Their tactics unfortunately are paying off: 84% of American counties now have no abortion services.

That's why the U.S. trials of RU486--regarded as safer and more private than a surgical abortion--are so important. Approval of this drug by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could come as early as 1996. When that happens, perhaps the tug of war over abortion clinics will become moot, and none too soon.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|