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Doctors and Demonstrators: How Political Institutions Shape Abortion Law in the United States, Britain, and Canada Paperback – November 14, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


Winner of the 2012 Charles Tilly Best Book Award, Section on Collective Behavior and Social Movements, American Sociological Association

2013 Distinguished Scholarship Award, Pacific Sociological Association

"The abortion issue offers Halfmann the opportunity to account for many of the ills that the U.S. system is manifesting across many other issues, and thus provides not only a comprehensive political history of the path the abortion issue followed but good indications of the sources of the havoc wreaked on U.S. decisions on other issues from climate change to tax policy." (Myra Marx Ferree, American Journal of Sociology)

"Scholarship around abortion politics and policy may be nearly as crowded and contentious a field as the phenomena it seeks to explain. Drew Halfmann’s book, Doctors and Demonstrators, ventures boldly into this arena with a compelling tale of institutional mediation of abortion politics and policy in three nations." (Mark Wolfson, Mobilization)

"...an interesting and absorbing analysis...." "His view that institutions were the key players in the differing developments in the [three countries] is a powerful one in light of his arguments, making this a book well worth reading."  (Gloria Cox, Law and Politics Book Review)

"Doctors and Demonstrators is an innovative, thorough, and expertly designed work of political analysis. There is much to admire here, but one of the most important elements is the use of a comparative historical approach to an issue of legal policy. Halfmann sets up an intriguing puzzle - why are abortion politics in the United States, Britain, and Canada so different? - and provides a subtle yet clear and powerful explanation." (John Skrentny, University of California, San Diego)

"Halfmann's analysis is an important contribution to sociology and a source of timely insight that goes beyond the specifics of abortion issues to controversies over health care generally." (Craig Calhoun, London School of Economics and Political Science)

About the Author

Drew Halfmann is associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Davis.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (November 14, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226313433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226313436
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,058,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this book. It is incredibly well researched and provides rich context to the evolution of abortion politics. By comparing how abortion policy unfolded in the United States, Great Britain, and Canada at around the same time, Halfmann is able to explain why abortion is so much more deeply fraught in the American political arena. Moving beyond essentialist explanations of religion and morality, the book elucidates critical structures of institutions and historically specific factors for a fuller understanding of how abortion manages to hog so much of the political limelight in the United States.
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