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Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe V. Wade Paperback – August 31, 1996
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Both sides of the debate over legal abortions have invoked the images of the "back-alley butcher" and the coat hanger as a portrayal of abortionists in the years before the Roe v. Wade decision. Anti-abortionists use these symbols to portray abortionists as greedy, exploitative, and less than professional, while supporters of choice invoke them to warn of the jeopardy in which women's lives would be placed if abortion were recriminalized.
But the truth about pre-Roe abortion is often quite different. Carole Joffe interviews 45 health-care professionals who either provided safe abortions or access to them in those years, focusing on, as she puts it, "the mounting frustrations with anti-abortion legislation that led otherwise highly conventional physicians to various degrees of law breaking and law bending" and the impact that decision had on their personal and professional lives. These people got involved because they could not stand by while women suffered from poverty or health complications; for many, it was more a matter of profound internal religious questioning. "I felt the solution to God's problems, in the world, was through faith," says one doctor. "Through faith in God we'd find a way to solve these problems... God wasn't going to solve all our problems. We've got to solve them ourselves." Doctors of Conscience is a solid, well-rounded portrayal of several people who came to such decisions; as an informed document, it offers much clarity and insight into a highly controversial issue.
Well-researched and clearly written. . . Provides a compelling narrative of the dedication of doctors who have braved society's continuing ambivalence toward women's right to choose. —K. Kaufmann, San Francisco Examiner-Chronicle
"A fabulous read. . . intense and absorbing. —Marge Berer, Women's Review of Books
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To paraphrase the author, women willing to go to great and dangerous lengths and subject themselves to risky, expensive and sometimes illegal or morally questionable practices in attempts to have children are also the exact same women who will subject themselves to the same dangers not to. As a man who read this book at his wife's request I learned to understand this. I found it enlightening.
Statistics vary. I've read a variety of statistics that said every 1 in10 or 1 in 5 or 1 in3 women have had an abortion regardless of age, race, marital status, financial status or religion. That surprised me and opened my eyes. When you think about it that is no more uncommon than a man opting to have a vasectomy.
I feel bad that women are shamed and made to feel bad for their choice in regards to reproduction. Nobody is picketing my doctor's office when a man comes in and asks for a vasectomy. It made me question why? According to the teachings of certain churches anything that frustrates or attempts to frustrate life is an abomination against God. Again, it made me question why the outrage and backlash against women and not men. Interesting in how we view women and determine the "function" in our world and feel free to scrutinize, criticize and debate what they may do with their bodies but ours is never questioned.
As a man I started to really think about these things and the unfairness of it. I certainly wouldn't want anyone telling me what to do with my body or that my health insurance refused to cover intelligent, practical, reasonable and safe LEGAL medical procedures if I wanted one. Yet, here we sit today doing just that. Think about that guys. Scary thought isn't it?
I feel regardless of being pro abortion or pro life ALL PEOPLE should be pro choice. This is America. We have the right to make choices. Women are not brainless, unintelligent, uninformed or ignorant children who do not understand their bodies or need others to make their choice for them. They've had a few months to "think" about what they want to do from the moment they get pregnant.
More than any other person, government or church THEY know their heart, minds, bodies and souls. They talked to their "God". They weighed the pros and cons. They have a conscience and a soul and a heart that you and I could never know. Only the do.
Abortion is the most private and personal decision that any woman can make. It should be hers and hers alone to make it. Whatever consequences or benefits she feels she experiences in life due to her choice are for her to deal with. They are not ours.
I wouldn't want someone telling me I was going to burn in Hell or I was murdering "unborn children" because I had a vasectomy. I wouldn't want anyone to shame me or tell me I lacked compassion or insight for the choice I made. I don't feel we have the right to judge. I don't feel we have the right to shame people. I think women should stop feeling ashamed. While abortion is not something to be proud of I don't feel it should have the negative stigma attached to or associated with it that exists presently. It should be treated just like any other procedure. Privately and not anybody else's business.
As for unborn children that is another debate. We do not know what "a fetus" feels, thinks or experiences for sure or beyond a shadow of doubt. A fetus is a lump of tissue that EVENTUALLY will become a human being/unborn child. Day 1 through the first couple months (5) IS NOT it. It simply isn't viable.
When exactly viability starts I think that is a personal decision best made by the individual. I do know the people on death row who are put to death are viable. They are not dividing cells, non gender specific tissue. We know what they think, feel, and experience. Why isn't the pro-lfe
movement more concerned with their lives? The Bible says to pray for those in prison as you would your self.
Why isn't the pro-life movement concerned with NOT taking life saving drugs or personally boycotting and turning life saving drugs. Drugs created through the use of fetal tissue and stem cells. I've never hear of a pro-life person saying they're cashing in their mutual fund because they don't want to invest in drug companies that sell cancer, diabetes or leukemia medication. I've never seen any boycotting doctors and clinics that prescribe it or refuse to take these drugs even if it means their own children die. Nope. They're the first ones in line for treatment. Those "unborn children" don't enter the pro-life mind ever in these circumstances.
We have no problem harvesting the organs of freshly deceased persons to do research on or to sell or pass out to hospitals for transplants.
As a matter of fact we beg the living to willingly sign over their body parts while their hearts are still beating! We put stickers on their licenses that say "organ donor". Nobody complains about the hospital bill they receive or how much money the hospitals rake in by "selling" these body parts and organs. As long as they get one when they or their precious children need it. Makes you think about the true power and real convictions of those who claim to be pro life.
To me it doesn't matter whether your pro abortion or anti abortion. Everyone should be pro-"choice." As those with FULLY functioning brains, a consciousness, and a belief deserve that right?
And today, my generation finds itself in an interesting paradigm. Because while the state officially allows the performance of abortion, protestors take it upon themselves to hunt and terrorize the doctors who perform this procedure. This climate has chilling repercussions because 86 percent of American counties now lack a medically licensed abortion provider. Wanting women to have access to health care places their lives physically at risk.
With all of the news stories about clinic protests and doctor shootings, it's easy for American citizens to become discouraged, feeling like extremists are winning. But this book gave me effective 'pain relief' by reminding me that we are not alone. There are doctors wanting us to obtain health care.