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
. 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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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