From Publishers Weekly
The abortion issue is a cover for a fundamentalist "anti-contraception" and "anti-sex movement," argues this vigorous broadside. In a well-researched and pointed critique of prolife excesses, NARAL official Page (The Smart Girl's Guide to College
) details the multifaceted opposition the Christian right has mounted to a broad range of reproductive rights. Prolife groups, she notes, have fraudulently conflated contraceptives with devices or substances that cause abortion, championed pharmacists who refuse to sell contraceptives, and organized to block over-the-counter sale of "Plan B" emergency contraceptive pills. Attacking both feminism and premarital sex, she contends, they vilify working moms and push ineffective abstinence-only sex-ed curricula, and have even opposed a vaccine against the HPV virus, a major cause of cervical cancer, claiming it would promote promiscuity. The irony, she argues, is that prolifers' effort to restrict access to contraception actually increases the number of abortions. Against what she believes is the fundamentalists' dour procreationist ideology and animus toward sexual pleasure itself, Page celebrates the blessings conferred by contraceptives in liberating women, and their families, in our modern "pro-choice world," claiming that "regular sex brings people as much happiness as a $50,000-a-year raise." If sometimes a tad facile, her defense of the sexual revolution in upbeat—even patriotic—terms makes this a spirited, thought-provoking addition to the culture wars. (Feb.)
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The passion of the pro-life movement extends beyond abortion opposition to an overarching desire to end contraceptive use and to restrict sex to procreation only, argues Page, director of a national pro-choice organization. In contrast, by supporting women's ability to control their reproductive lives, the pro-choice movement has helped to improve life for American women across a broad range of social and economic issues. She details the corrosive influence of pro-life politics on science, including lobbying to prevent FDA approval of an emergency contraceptive pill to be sold over the counter. The pro-life movement has political "muscle that extends across the globe," harming efforts to reduce family size in developing nations and to encourage advancement of women. Page outlines the threats to the Roe
decision and the privacy rights that also protect all aspects of sexuality, from contraception to homosexuality. This is a well-researched and thoughtful look at the politics behind reproductive issues and the implications for all Americans, whatever their position on abortion. Vanessa BushCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved