Book Club: Generation Roe

Generation RoeLike many in her generation, Sarah Erdreich thought the freedoms that Roe v. Wade guaranteed were secure. A child of the post-Roe era, she learned that the landmark decision had legalized abortion, striking down many of the state and federal restrictions that had previously forced countless women to risk their lives and health in the hands of underground abortion providers — providers whose work was not accountable to any professional medical standards.

What Erdreich learned was true, but it wasn’t the entire truth. Legalizing abortion was one thing. Guaranteeing access to it was another. After college, graduate school, and a series of abandoned career starts, Erdreich ended up in Washington, D.C., working for the hotline for the National Abortion Federation. Her job changed her perspective, opening her eyes to the extent that restrictions and barriers still diverted many people from the legal procedure of abortion. It was that experience that inspired her to write Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement (Seven Stories Press, 2013).


Generation Roe is worthwhile reading for those who want to build on the legacy of Roe v. Wade.


Generation Roe assesses where we are today, 40 years after Roe, with a sobering look at the continuing threats to reproductive freedom. In the decade that Roe was decided, 77 percent of all U.S. counties lacked an abortion provider. Today, that figure has jumped to 87 percent, while the number of women of childbearing age in those counties has increased from 27 to 35 percent. That’s one of many indicators Erdreich uses to capture the contradictions of the post-Roe era. Those like her who grew up after 1973 have never known what it’s like to live without the availability of legal abortion. But that availability has been curtailed by everything short of overturning Roe, from legal means, such as statutes mandating medically inaccurate pre-abortion counseling — plus waiting periods of 24 hours or more — to illegal means, such as threatening abortion providers and their patients.

Unfortunately, while so much significance can be pegged on Roe v. Wade, and while those few syllables can serve as a sort of shorthand for reproductive freedom, there isn’t a counterpart that succinctly captures its myriad curtailments. As a result, many of those curtailments are left out of the conversation. It takes a news hound to follow what’s happening in the 50 states on the abortion front and to have a thorough sense of where that leaves people who seek abortion services. “I absolutely think most people are not aware of what the realities are in terms of barriers to access,” says law student Kyle Marie Stock, one of the many people Erdreich interviewed for her book. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Friday News Rundown

  • The War On Contraception = A war on women (XX Factor)
  • Obama Sacks Bush-Era Contraception Rules (Huff Po)
  • New study shows access to over-the-counter birth control improves usage (Feministing)
  • Jacksonville, FL mayoral candidate defends his joke about bombing abortion clinics because his audience was catholic and “100% pro-life”. Apparently “pro-lifers” find death funny…who knew?! (Jacksonville.com)
  • Check out Salon’s powerful article on why men need to speak up about abortion (Salon)
  • Read up on the side effects of the GOP’s war on family planning (Wa Po)
  • Infamous, anti-choice, race-baiting billboards make their unwelcome debut in Manhattan. Their message? “The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb.” Jiminy Christmas. There really are no words… (NBC NY)
  • Ga. Law Could Give Women the Death Penalty for having a miscarriage (Mother Jones)
  • Despite the fact that a 2006 congressional investigation found that “20 of 23 federally funded “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” contacted by staff investigators requesting information about an unintended pregnancy were told false or misleading information about the potential risks of an abortion”, South Dakota has introduced a bill that would mandate women receive “pre-abortion counseling” at these very businesses. (TPM)

12th and Delaware and the Crisis of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”

twelfth_and_delawareThe documentary film 12th and Delaware covers the story of two clinics adjacent to one another in Fort Pierce, Florida. On one corner, sits an abortion clinic. On the other, what’s commonly called a “crisis pregnancy center” (abbreviated as CPC).

It is not happenstance alone that caused these clinics to share an intersection.

The abortion clinic was in business first. When the building across the street went up for sale, it was purchased by the organizers of crisis pregnancy center (CPC) in order to divert the abortion clinic patients to their clinic to dissuade them from terminating their pregnancies.

If you’re not familiar with the services offered by a CPC, I’ll give you some background. Continue reading

Pro-Choice Medical Students Demand Increased Training in Abortion

The July 18, 2010 issue of The New York Times Magazine has an informative article titled “The New Abortion Providers,” which puts the spotlight on upcoming doctors and the need to include abortion-care training in medical school curricula.

As the article points out, in 1973 more than 80 percent of the nation’s abortion facilities were located within hospitals; by 1996 more than 90 percent of abortions were taking place in clinics. The move from hospitals to free-standing clinics made the abortion provider more vulnerable. This weakness was exploited by groups such as Operation Rescue, whose tactics include the harassment of doctors, as well as terrorists who single out abortion providers for assassination.

While the first post-Roe generation of abortion providers was motivated by their exposure to infections and deaths following self-induced or illegal abortions, today’s crop of medical students does not generally have firsthand experience with such horrors. In the years following the Roe v. Wade decision, the number of abortion providers has been on the decline; this move away from mainstream medicine has led to the disappearance of abortion training in residency programs. Currently more than half of U.S. abortion providers are over the age of 50, which is indicative of the need for more trained medical students. Continue reading