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Ellen Goodman: Gay Rights, Abortion Rights Go In Opposite Directions.

Publication Date: 
October 16, 2008
The State Journal-Register
Ellen Goodman

The State Journal-Register quotes Professor Pamela S. Karlan in a story about the gap between gay rights and abortion rights in terms of societal acceptance. The article argues that as more men come out of the closet and marry, more women go into the closet hiding the fact that they have had an abortion:

Stanford law professor Pam Karlan was the first to compare changes in the last two decades. “Gays have come out of the closet,” she said, “and women who’ve had abortions have gone back into the closet.”

The long slow process of “coming out” means that today nearly everyone knows someone who is gay. Gays are no longer some foreign “them,” especially to younger Americans who are four times more likely than their grandparents to support marriage equality.


The long slow process of “going back in” has meant, in Karlan’s words, that “we don’t always know that we know someone who’s had an abortion.” Has the invisibility of these women made it easier to chip away at their rights?


Karlan said, “Look to your right. Look to your left. One of you has had an abortion.” Because we rarely hear from women, it’s easy to forget that over half those women already have children and are making their decisions in that family context.