Shaping Abortion Discourse supplies the reader with a highly condensed product of a long and complicated research process that generated a great mass of data. Literally thousands of newspaper articles and hundreds of documents about the abortion conflict in Germany and the United States were systematically analyzed, and thousands of speakers, utterances, and ideas were identified and interpreted. In addition, many interviews with actors and observers of the abortion issue were carried out. All of this covered an almost three-decade period of public abortion discourse in two countries, carried out by a U. S. German research team with the idea that in the end a monograph should be jointly written to present the core results of the comparative research.
The demand for consensus set by this ambitious goal required an unusual level of transatlantic cooperation. The “same codebook for content analysis, the same survey questionnaire, and to some extent the same interview schedule”had to be designed and agreed upon. Working with these instruments brought up many practical questions that had to be solved with balanced procedures on both sides. And because data produced by these procedures do not speak for themselves, a difficult and sometimes controversial discussion among the authors about the cross-cultural meaning of these data had to be carried out in order to develop a single line of describing and interpreting the research findings.
At the beginning, I myself was heavily involved in the research project. Then I was elected to an office that so much absorbed my capacity that I was not able to stay on as a member of the research team. But I remained in contact with my colleagues, heard this and that, and became more and more curious about the comparative outcome of the project. Would they be able to do it at all? And what could be learned