It is about time, forty years after Roe v. Wade, to finally demystify abortion. One-third of all American women will have an abortion by the time they are 45, and most of those women are already mothers. Yet, the topic remains taboo. Even amidst MTV’s 16 & Pregnant, depictions of or even discussion about abortion remains almost nonexistent. In this provocative book, Sarah Erdreich gives us a new way of thinking about abortion–one based in the reality of women’s lives.
Generation Roe delves into phenomena such as “abortion-recovery counseling,” “crisis pregnancy centers,” and the infamous anti-choice “black children are an endangered species” billboards; it tells the stories of those who face threats on their lives to pursue careers in this stigmatized field; outlines the outrageous legislative battle grounds that have popped up all over the country; and takes to task pro-choice activists for allowing the very words used in the debate to be controlled by anti-choice rhetoric (such as the term “pro-life”).
Inextricably tangled in autonomy, privacy, and sexuality, the abortion issue remains home base for the culture wars in America. Yet, there is more common ground than meets the eye, when so many Americans, in all honesty, have made that choice, and many more want to have that choice. Erdreich holds the antidote to the usual debates, and redirects the dialogue to face reality, speak honestly, and hold abortion up, unabashedly, as a moral and fundamental human right.
Before I share my thoughts, I wanted to say how much I struggled with the decision about whether I should read this book due to my personal beliefs. I normally would never share my opinions about topics such as this but I feel compelled because of the relevancy of my thoughts towards the book. The greatest challenge that we face as a country is the acceptance of standing behind the amendments and rights unconditionally regardless of whether you are for or against. What we lack is a genuine respect that if we are going to uphold those ideals to support our own individualistic beliefs when challenged, than we need to respect that there is another side. Whether we believe it is right or wrong, everyone is entitled to believe and live their lives according to what is right in the parameters of your own life as long as you do not intentionally cause another harm.
I personally am pro life and will admit before I read this book, I had strong ideals about why abortion is wrong. After reading this book, it opened a new perspective that lifts the veil of taboo. In the parameters of the context of the book, I thought Mrs. Erdreich did an amazing job with presenting a comprehensible perspective for such a sensitive topic in a well written, articulate and informative matter. This is the book that I believe with be one that bridges the gap between people who are for/or against to start a conversation. As a reader, you are left with many moments of introspective reflections of who makes this decision and why.
What a great book does is make you think, whether negative or positive. There are many aspects of the book that I never took in consideration of who or why. There is so much that I learned reading this book in terms of history, personal accounts from people who you wouldn't have thought would make that decision and the medical industry position and dilemmas regarding procedures and its influence due to fluctuating legislation.
What resonates with me is the what if factor. When you believe against something, if you where ever in this position what would you do. What would you do if you were a married couple who found out that your child had severe birth defects that would cripple their ability to live on their own? What if you were a woman whose life was in imminent danger if you carried to term? What if you were brutally assaulted, could you endure the psychological trauma of reliving that account? What if you loved someone so much and you were told that if you didn't end it he would leave you?
After reading this book, these are some of the questions that open that dialogue of discussion. Sometimes it is easier to say what you would do but if you were in that situation, what decision would you make? If you choose to read this book, which I think you should, it will be an engaging and informative read. It not only opens your mind but gives some great resources to information that is available for those who are interested. It's a book that if you are open minded, can really be something that can bring women together from both sides to truly encompass the plight of what the women's right movement was meant for the rights of all women inclusively and to support each other regardless of which side you feel.
Reviewed by Michelle Bowles
Publisher: Seven Stories Press
Release Date: 3/26/13