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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

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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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: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,552,125 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By andrew l'amour on January 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
in reading this book, one understands the trauma that our society imposed on women in the past and wishes to re-impose on them in the future. women were denied the healthcare they needed when faced with an unwanted pregnancy and women were denied contraceptives. (sometimes only able to get them with their husband's permission. no husband; no permission.) and the abstinence-only right would wish to do this again where no one has access to information on birth control nor accessibility to contraceptives. this debate is without a winner unfortunately as the pro-choice understand the need to protect a woman's right to control the health of her own body and the anti-choice people believe that a woman has no right to make this decision. and there can be no compromise or middle ground.

if only men had babies then there would be no debate. abortion would be completely legal and we could discuss other important matters.

read this book and understand why some believe there can be no going back to pre-roe v. wade.
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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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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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Format: Paperback
Abortion kills embryos. Illegal abortion kills women and embryos. Which is worse? The stories from this book show how women's deaths from illegal abortions reverberate throughout society.

Every American, and especially every legislator, should read this book. It is a collection of stories, most told in the first person, of lives affected by illegal abortion: a county coroner, an abortionist, a police officer, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, a child. And of course the women survivors themselves, who were maimed, traumatized, raped, left near death, treated with disgust and revulsion, or abandoned and deserted.

Read this book, then pass it on to your boyfriend or your sister, to a friend or to someone you meet at the grocery store. Give a copy to the sidewalk harasser at your local women's health center. Send a copy to your federal representative and your state assembly person. Leave a copy in hotel rooms and coffee houses.

Abortion has been legal for 24 years in this country. Only a single generation of women has grown up not knowing the horrors of illegal abortion. We must never go back.

Coroner Fred: "The deaths [from botched abortion attempts] stopped overnight in 1973 [when abortion was legalized], and I never saw another abortion death in all the 18 years after that until I retired. That ought to tell people something about keeping abortion legal."
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By A Customer on April 3, 2003
Format: Paperback
My connection to this book is a personal one. My mother-in-law (under the pseudonym "Dr. Edith" in the book) is, at the present age of 94, one of the few remaining obstetrician/gynecologists living who practiced both before and after Roe v. Wade. After her retirement from the practice of medicine, she was active on speakers' bureau lists for Planned Parenthood, and would tell stories from her experience such as the one in the book. I have heard her tell many more stories of the patients she encountered in her practice who presented with the after-effects of illegal abortion attempts. In this day and age of the conservative-stacked Supreme Court, when the legislature is attempting to get part or all of Roe v. Wade repealed, this book is a "must-read" for every woman (and every man who is connected to a woman who can bear children!)
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