Here are some of those points: that the liberal left defend their opponents’ right to their views while those opponents try their hardest to silence the pro-choice majority; that the health risks of delivering a baby are 12 times greater than those of a first-trimester abortion, and that 88 to 92 percent of abortions are performed within that time frame; that the “person-hood” assigned to the fetus by the right-to-life believers all-but-denies the “person-hood” of the mother; that the psychological repercussions of an unintended pregnancy are just as difficult, if not more so, when the oft-touted option of adoption is chosen over abortion; that women seeking abortions come from all economic and social strata; that men suffer as well as women when abortions are illegal; and that giving constitutional rights to an unborn fetus would set the legal system up for chaos.
Despite her fervent beliefs on this red-letter topic—the large red “A” on the book’s cover drives home the ongoing “scarlet letter” nature of abortion — Sorrentino carefully avoids polemics. Of course, she brings up the abortion clinic murders, but she doesn’t dwell on them. Nor does she expend too much energy on picking apart the pro-life rhetoric — though she does mention their opposition of birth control, which could prevent many abortions, and their seeming lack of regard for what happens to unwanted children after they are born, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
She cites statistics about maltreated children in child protective services across the country (906,000 in 2005); the numbers of children killed or disabled by Shaken Baby Syndrome; the health care and legal costs of so many maltreated children; and the fact that life expectancy in the US is below that of Japan, China, and the European Union. She urges pro-choice advocates to work for a maternal and child health package that would safeguard the total physical and emotional well-being of women and children, including the right to terminate a pregnancy.
Sorrentino’s book is a wake-up call to all women (and men) who have taken their hard-won personal freedoms for granted. She has evoked the faces and fates of the women behind the numbers; she’s told their stories as much as her own. In the process, she’s provided a valuable case-book for pro-choice advocates everywhere.
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