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The Worst of Times: Illegal Abortion : Survivors, Practitioners, Coroners, Cops and Children of Women Who Died Talk About Its Horrors Hardcover – January, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The days when abortions were illegal are graphically and chillingly recalled here by a host of witnesses. Women tell of the byzantine lengths they went to to get mostly perilous abortions; doctors, nurses and others, including boyfriends, describe their experiences. Here, too, are poignant reminiscences of those orphaned when their mothers died having siblings aborted. Published to coincide with the 20th anniversary of Roe v. Wade , this powerful collection of testaments, assembled by Miller, a Pittsburgh lawyer and abortion rights activist, demonstrates what awaits women if abortion is made illegal again. Appendices review the history of abortion legislation and the frequency, methods and complications of "underground" abortions. Author tour.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (January 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060190345
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060190347
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #557,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Robin Orlowski on January 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This collection of stories bluntly illustrates why having reproductive choice is essential to a society. The chilling stories from women, their families, the practitioners, the investigators, and the people who tried to patch up the women still rivals any horror-suspense movie which I've seen.

I was particularly struck by Paula's recollection of her 1963 illegal abortion. The juxtaposition of the Miss America pageant airing while she was undergoing an illegal abortion (p. 225) reinforced the frustration that she felt at having to go to those depths. She got her abortion after finding out her husband left her because being a single parent was impossible in that era and temporarily going to a maternity home was impractical already with one young son. She explicitly notes that the contents of her uterus did not look like what is now displayed on anti-choice placards (pp. 226-227). Finally, she juxtaposed her daughter's 1991 legal abortion (pp. 227-229) to emphasize the critical difference that legalization made for women's physical and emotional health.

Women occupy center stage in this anthology, but men's voices are also heard. Two powerful testimonies come from 'Dr. Bert' who said that 'it was the system and not the abortionist that killed her' (p. 195) and 'Coroner Fred' who emphatically said that after Roe v. Wade was decided 'the deaths stopped overnight in 1973 and I never saw another abortion death in all the 18 years after that until I retired' (p. 13).

Both of those people are older than the 'baby boom generation' who were participating in the 'sexual revolution' and were not a part of it, but their experiences of what the 'good old days' were really like are a needed reality check---especially now. It is indicative of how little rights women really have if there are elected officials in this country eager to return us to those times.

I reccomend this book to anybody needing to learn about reproductive politics.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By DivaPrime on August 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
When I first read this book I was so moved that I bought a dozen copies and have given them out whenever I run into a woman who thinks she's anti-abortion. It never fails to change their point of view. Having lost my best friend to an illegal abortion in 1971, I was overjoyed when Roe vs Wade came down. I am a woman who loves children and has adopted 3, but I fear greatly for my daughters and their daughters in a world where abortion will all too probably become illegal again.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Mickeycat on January 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book does not politicize abortion, it just tells stories like mine. The truth - in their own words, unvarnished and without an agenda. Making something illegal does not stop it at all, it creates a flourishing underground. The anti-abortion movement has forgotten about Prohibition! This should be required reading for every politician who aspires to be a lawmaker. Everyone who does not have a uterus should read this book; if women began attempting to regulate testicles - this entire debate would vanish.

No one wants to have an abortion. My story is like Janet's - I was in an abusive relationship, and I was on the pill....if it is 99% effective and you have 30 years of active fertility (let's say from ages 15 to 45) and you cycle 13 times a year (every 28 days) and you NEVER miss a pill and you are married to someone who believes it is his right to use his wife as he wants, when he wants; then you have 390 chances in your life when it is possible to become pregnant - if you use the pill faithfully - you will face 3.9 unintended pregnancies during your life.

If you think about it and ask around, I bet you will hardly ever find a woman who planned, in detail, each of her pregnancies. Nearly every woman - since the dawn of time - has had the experience of saying to herself, "huh...I'm pregnant, I wasn't expecting that". How she deals with it will be exclusively related to the place in her life she is. I desperately wanted another child, but knew if I remained pregnant at that point in my life, I would likely be beaten to death (along with the unborn child). As a mother, I already loved my child enough not to put him/her through dying a death like that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dee Z on October 6, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An essential read for everyone before they think of limiting reproductive rights.
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4 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Life Champion on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of stories concerning illegal abortions that have been performed over the years. It does a good job of presenting the emotional argument that abortion rights activists present, namely, what happens to those women who have to get illegal abortions. But it overlooks some very important facts. First, no one (unless you consider the very small number of those who get pregnant from rape) gets pregnant without having unprotected sex, a choice. Second, what about the unborn? Do they not have rights? Do woman have unrestricted right to kill an unborn child all the way to term? Third, the whole abortion rights movement is based on a sham. Does anyone know that Roe in Roe vs. Wade is now a leader in the Right to Life movement and never did get an abortion herself but was used as a vehicle to overturn the law. And there are millions of women who fervently believe that abortion is wrong. If you want to read the strongest argument for the pro-choice side read this book. But ask yourself, "who speaks for the unborn?" A century from now Americans will be mystified as to why we considered a unborn child non-human, just as we cannot understand why our forefathers considered a black man not a man.
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