Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v. Wade

Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v. Wade

Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v. Wade

Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion before and after Roe v. Wade

Synopsis

"The battle for legal abortion in the United States may have been won, but access to safe medical abortions is rapidly narrowing. Some 84 percent of all U. S. counties are now without abortion facilities, and the situation is growing worse. How are we to explain the crisis of abortion access? In Doctors of Conscience, Carole Joffe argues that in addition to the violence and disruption of the anti-abortion movement, the medical community itself must share the blame. Joffe traces the ways mainstream medicine has marginalized abortion even after Roe vs. Wade, by failing to establish needed training and services and by stigmatizing and penalizing doctors who perform abortions. The costs have been high - not only for women with unwanted pregnancies, but also for doctors committed to providing safe medical abortions. Based on in-depth interviews with forty-five physicians who have provided or facilitated abortions, Doctors of Conscience recalls the days before Roe, when emergency rooms were filled with women maimed and infected by botched abortions. Witnessing the desperation of women seeking illegal abortions was a turning point in the careers of many of the doctors interviewed. After Roe, they continued to be haunted by their experiences." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

The "back alley butcher" is the dominant image that has been used--by both supporters and opponents of abortion--to describe abortion providers in the pre-Roe era. the term is often used synonymously with "criminal abortionist." These phrases, used to refer both to medical and lay providers, evoke greedy, incompetent, and exploitative individuals, who often injured their patients, sometimes sexually abused them, and occasionally, due to their ineptness, even killed them. Along with its other dominant symbol of the "bad old days"--the coat hanger, which represents the lengths women would go to in attempts at self-abortion--the pro-choice movement has used the figure of the "butcher" as a warning of women's vulnerability when abortion is illegal. Neither the coat hanger nor the butcher are invented symbols. Women did in fact try to abort using hangers (among many other similarly dangerous objects), and we have ample accounts of women's harrowing encounters with butchers, both lay and physician. Indeed this book at numerous points adds to the documentation of both the incompetence and the dubious ethics of those who offered illegal abortions before Roe.

But such butchers/criminal abortionists were only one aspect of a more complex reality that formed the culture of illegal abortion. Abortion before Roe also drew the attention of another category of physicians, those I refer to as "physicians of conscience" in contrast to the butchers who had medical degrees, these physicians of conscience were not incompetent medically (and hence unable to function in mainstream medicine), did not appear to have performed . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.