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Ideological Resistance

Resistance to change through law on ideological grounds is quite prevalent. A good example of this is the opposition of the Catholic Church to legislation and court decisions dealing with the removal of some of the restrictions on birth control and abortion. Specifically, in 1982, a French pharmaceutical company announced that it had developed a pill that would end pregnancy if taken within 7 weeks of conception. Advocates of reproductive freedom hailed the news, because the pill, known as RU-486, meant that abortions could be induced soon after conception in a doctor’s office, without surgery. By the early 1990s, RU-486 was available in France, Britain, and Sweden. But protests by abortion opponents helped block the drug’s introduction into the United States by threatening to boycott the products of any drug company that sold it. In the face of such efforts, virtually no American company was willing to supply RU-486 in commercial quantities. After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration finally approved the drug in the fall of 2000, one pharmaceutical company did distribute RU-486 in the United States (Tone, 2001, 2009).

Organized Opposition

Occasionally, widespread individual resistance to change may become mobilized into organized opposition, which can assume formal organizational structure (for example, the National Rifle Association opposing gun control or AARP opposing changes in Social Security benefits). Resistance to change may also be channeled through a social movement, political action committees, or lobbyists. Much organized resistance to change results from efforts of groups that oppose extending rights and liberties to historically subordinate groups. For example, members of the Ku Klux Klan and the John Birch Society oppose efforts to improve racial and ethnic equality These and similar organizations have resisted change that was under way, and although most of them have fought a losing battle, their delaying effects have often been considerable.

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