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Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us Hardcover – January 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Sociologist Joffe elaborates on the violence, stigmatization and legal actions perpetrated against those providing, receiving or even tangentially involved with abortion, despite the protections due under Roe v. Wade. Joffe elucidates the human component of this contentious issue through exploring the hardships of medical professionals and health-care administrators, yet the author's near apotheosis of abortion providers weakens the credibility of her arguments. Furthermore, while criticisms of flamboyantly reactionary rhetoric might be warranted, at times Joffe's own language, such as references to women's health clinics as ground zero in the abortion wars, can seem similarly overwrought. Joffe is at her best taking a more nuanced approach to the issue, as when she discusses her interviews with one nurse who considers herself prochoice but refuses to take part in the medical procedure. While the book provides ample confirmation of damaging actions taken by the movement against abortion providers and receivers, it fails to critically examine prolife ideology or substantiate claims that antiabortion activists have distract[ed] from fully identifying an appropriate sexual and reproductive agenda. (Jan.)
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From Booklist

Sociologist Joffe doesn’t present a “balanced account” but writes “as a war correspondent embedded with the troops.” Though fanatics constitute a small portion of antiabortionists, their violent acts and extreme politics have made abortion highly controversial and contributed to medical administrators’ reluctance to provide it. Legislative restrictions make TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) a greater threat than bombs or bullets, with “excessive and unnecessary” government regulations increasing the costs and scarcity of abortion services. Against that backdrop, Joffe depicts providers as activists and clinics as “ground zero” in the abortion wars, citing such incidents as the infamous “anthrax letter” assaults on clinics by extremists to verify those characterizations. She adduces “the two Americas” of reproductive health, placing abortion within America’s “striking disparity” of health care for the poor vis-à-vis the non-poor and using case histories to put human faces on the effects of that two-tiered system and the consequences of public-funding cutbacks. This scholarly yet clear and well-paced reportage from the front will stir as it encourages debate. --Whitney Scott

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807035025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807035023
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,323,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carole Joffe is a professor at the Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health at the University of California-San Francisco, and a professor emerita of sociology at the University of California-Davis. She is the author of several books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By William F Harrison on February 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Carole Joffe wrote a book called Doctors Of Conscience about 11 or 12 years ago. I first met her over the telephone when I called her to ask the address and phone number of one of the doctors she featured in that book. We soon met a my first National Abortion Federation meeting after she talked me into to joining in 1999. At my first meeting I met some of the most incredible people I had ever met and many became fast friends. Now, several of these friends are dead. One, Dr. George Tiller, murdered only last year by a religious fanatic, Scott Roeder, in George's church in Wichita as he handed out church materials. I have been a victim of the same religious terrorists that have murdered others and burned our clinics and offices. However, like most of my incredibly brave colleagues among the abortion provider group, I also refuse to be intimidated by these Christian Taliban. Carole does an excellent job of featuring our colleagues.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Generation Roe on February 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I have to confess, I'm jealous of Carole Joffe. Not just because she gets to teach and live in Northern California, and not just because she gets to travel around the country interviewing experts in the reproductive rights movement. I'm jealous because her new book, Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us is well-written and informative and makes me worry that my book about the pro-choice movement, which could potentially be seen as a kind of companion to hers (well, I think it could!), won't be half as informative or inspiring.
As the title indicates, Carole is focused on the toll that anti-choice activity has taken on the pro-choice movement. "Activity" is too polite a word, actually, when you're talking about arson, anthrax threats, and punitive legislation - and, of course, the murder of Dr. Tiller, which occurred as this book was in its final stages. I defy anyone to read about the trials and tribulations of a clinic which suffered an arson attack and not choke up, both at the bravery of the staff and the generous nature of the community, which turned out in force to support the rebuilding. Acts like this pepper the book, though not all are as dramatic; but they all speak to one of the ideas running through the pages, that individual connections mean so much more than rhetoric and sound bites.
That idea has particular resonance for me, and is what inspired my book, Generation Roe. I haven't spent as much time in the trenches of the abortion wars as Carole, but my experience in direct patient services has shown me that individuals relate much more strongly to personal experience than anything else.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gripping and very graphic. This novel will make any person look at the reproductive rights movements from a different perspective. I did not always agree with the opinions of the author, but that is what gives this book an edge. The author is very straight forward and descriptive about the good, the bad, and the ugly truth of reproductive rights; specifically, this author focuses on abortion and its political and social impacts on modern society.
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