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December 15, 1993

The Public and the Controversy Over Abortion

JAMA. 1993;270(23):2871-2875. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510230113050

THE ARRIVAL of a new presidential administration in Washington, DC, has been marked by vigorous debate about two major health policy issues—national health reform and abortion. While the national health reform debate will be centered on the passage of a single piece of legislation, the abortion controversy encompasses a number of distinct judicial, legislative, and administrative policy decisions. In each of these areas, the Clinton administration seeks to reverse the trend established in the Reagan-Bush years of increased restrictions on access to abortion and other reproductive services.

Within the American medical community and among the general public, few issues are as controversial as abortion. Concern has deepened recently as violent protests and personal attacks on physicians have escalated in the wake of Clinton's decision to remove the gag rule on abortion counseling in family planning centers, and as he and Congress take up several policy initiatives: passing a freedom of