The Politics of Abortion in the House of Representatives in 1976

The battle over federal funds for abortions and the attempts to pass a constitutional amendment to prohibit all abortions have become annual events that most members of Congress privately dread but publicly welcome. As “pro-life” and “pro-choice” constituents descend upon their elected officials each year, representatives are forced to face an issue that has no easy legislative solution. Despite the intensity and disruptiveness of these confrontations, there have been no thorough and independent analyses of this phenomenon. Instead, most information on the abortion controversy in Congress has come from the understandably biased pens of the activists on both sides. Representatives and other policy makers are forced to make their decisions without fully understanding the political dynamics of the issue.

This Article will try to remedy that lack of analysis by investigating the enactment by the House of restrictions on federal abortion funding. I will first describe the debates that preceded three important votes on abortion; I will then analyze those votes using multivariate statistical analysis.