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Date Permissions Signed

12-12-2012

Date of Award

2012

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

First Advisor

Leonard, Kevin Allen, 1964-

Second Advisor

Myers, Polly M. (Polly Marie)

Third Advisor

Nuzum, Kathleen, 1961-

Abstract

In November 1970, fifty-six percent of Washington State voters approved Referendum 20. With this act, a state legalized abortion by popular vote for the first and only time in the history of the United States. This study explains how and why Washington State reformed its abortion law. The successful political campaign, led by Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform (WCAR), based in Seattle, constituted an unusual alliance of conservatives and liberals, men and women, Protestants and Catholics, often forgotten from the history of reproductive politics and certainly from the public debate on the issue during the twenty-first century. In the shadow of the population bomb-a postwar metaphor which conflated fears of atomic annihilation and overpopulation-a heterogeneous alliance of supporters for reform was built by Seattleites to meet their needs of a changing urban landscape. Members of the WCAR were professionals in law, medicine, politics, theology, and social work as well as citizen lobbyists. This study posits that their motivation to support the reform was shaped by their identity as a Seattleite (place identity), profession identity, and middle-class values in democracy, education, economic mobility, and family. Their understanding of the dilemma of unwanted pregnancies and illegal abortions was influenced by stories women told them about their need for abortion. These stories played a central role in the mobilization of the reform movement. Furthermore, messages about overpopulation and "healthy" sexuality informed the WCAR's advertisement campaign to solicit voter-approval for Referendum 20. This work argues that the science of ecology created a new lexicon and schema with which to consider population issues at the same time as a growing women's movement posited a challenging critique of gender roles. Therefore, the abortion reform movement was aided by two powerful, concurrent social movements during this era-the environmental and women's movements-in order to remake laws to reflect the changing needs of women in a post-industrial economy.

Type

Text

Publisher

Western Washington University

OCLC Number

821218985

Digital Format

application/pdf

Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Washington Citizens for Abortion Reform (Organization)

Geographic Coverage

Seattle (Wash.); Washington (State)

Genre/Form

Academic theses

Language

English

Rights

Copying of this thesis in whole or in part is allowable only for scholarly purposes. It is understood, however, that any copying or publication of this thesis for commercial purposes, or for financial gain, shall not be allowed without the author's written permission.

Included in

History Commons

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