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Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States Paperback – September 18, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-0809028603 ISBN-10: 0809028603 Edition: 1st
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the United States is a thorough feminist history of public policy on abortion since Roe v. Wade, as well as a reconsideration of recent political strategy. Rickie Solinger's third book on reproductive rights hinges on a crucial semantic shift in the 1970s from "abortion rights" to the softer, less direct "choice" and "pro-choice," itself an attempt to shake off the awkward "pro-abortion" tag. While "rights" are undeniable, Solinger asserts, "choice" is a market-driven concept. "Historical distinctions between women of color and white women, between poor and middle-class women, have been reproduced and institutionalized in the "era of choice," she continues, "in part by defining some groups of women as good choice makers, some as bad."

Solinger also advances a troubling economic thesis about adoption, defined roughly as "the transfer of babies from women of one social classification to women in a higher social classification or group." Bracing and well-researched, Solinger's arguments should be considered by anyone working for women's and children's rights. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Feminists need a paradigm shift, argues Solinger (Wake Up Little Susie;, The Abortionist), away from the post-Roe v. Wade concept of "choice" and back to the '60s concept of "rights," based on the approach of the civil rights movement, which argued that all citizens were entitled to vote, for instance, regardless of class status. "Choice" evokes a marketplace model of consumer freedom, she explains, while rights are privileges to which one is justly and irrevocably entitled as a human being. The shift from the language of rights to that of choice was deliberate, aimed at reducing the federal welfare tab and increasing the pool of adoptable children, which began to diminish after the early 1970s, Solinger argues. Once the pill and legal abortion were available, poor women could be considered "bad choice-makers" if they kept having babies they couldn't afford hardly the government's responsibility. (Never mind, Solinger observes, that many poor women can't afford either option and might want children, just as middle-class women do.) Is this progress? No, Solinger writes: "women with inadequate resources... must... have the right to determine for themselves whether or not to be mothers." With its crisp, jargon-free prose and copious footnotes, Solinger's reexamination of those twin bogeys the Back Alley Butcher and the Welfare Queen is a provocative read for any modern feminist.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hill and Wang; 1st edition (September 18, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809028603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809028603
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #831,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Charlie on April 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tackles extremely difficult issues without resorting to "easy" answers. Solinger deals deftly with the ways in which parenthood is a class-based privilege, using the model of reproductive "choice" (as opposed to a rights-based model) to frame her argument. Most notably, Solinger discusses how women whose reproductive options are constrained by their lack of resources, and the children of those women, become commodified and erased in a "marketplace" where others' greater (primarily financial) resources provide expanded latitude and legitimacy for their choices, creating a dynamic wherein adoption frequently eclipses the rights of birthparents and babies in favor of more privileged childless couples.

Solinger persuasively argues that the shift after Roe v. Wade from a rights-based to a choice-based argument about abortion engendered a marketplace approach to human reproduction, where the menu of options available to an individual is largely dictated by their degree of wealth.

A fascinating and convincing read.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Danielle Bird on May 7, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Rickie Solinger has written a fantastic history of the struggle for women's rights to reproductive freedom in the United States. This book gives an indepth of examination of the politics of choice and how the arguments over abortion influences the debates on welfare and women's rights in the US. This book not only provides an examination of the history of choice and reproductive freedom it also informs current discussions on the matter. Most notably, Solinger provides information missing from political discussions such as the decrease in available babies for adoption is not due to an increase in abortion but is largely due to a recognition by young women that they are capable of making their own decisions regarding whether or not to keep their babies. This book is an important read for those who wish to understand the contentious argument surrounding women's rights to reproductive freedom and the need to protect women's rights.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on January 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
How do the politics of choice shape issues and laws surrounding adoption, abortion and welfare in this country? Rickie Solinger's Beggars And Choosers explores the changing language and evolving law since Roe V. Wade, examining historical distinctions between ethnic and social classes and how new politics and issues influence concepts of choice. An eye-opening presentation of how one woman's choice is another's burden.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Caren on March 15, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I consider myself pretty aware when it comes to reprodcutive rights issues, but after reading "Begger & Chooser" I realized that there was a lot I didn't know.
I think Solinger does an amazing job of presenting a historical account of how the the politics of choice have moved from a rights based issue to a consumer issue. But, I was a bit frustrated and disappointed that she didn't offer any ideas of how these problem can and should be addressed.
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