The Politics of Abortion, by Anne Hendershott.
In an incisive, eminently readable look at the polarization of abortion politics, University of San Diego sociology professor Anne Hendershott tackles the history, rhetoric, and interest-group wrangling surrounding the most divisive political issue of our day. "Not since slavery and the rise of the abolitionist movement has there been so bitter a culture war in this nation," she writes.
Hendershott's chapter on race is particularly enlightening, cataloging the pro-choice movement's attempt to "plant a culture of abortion in African American neighborhoods." Her account of the pro-choice opposition to General Electric's 4D Ultrasound imaging system demonstrates the lengths to which abortion proponents will go to undermine any popular acceptance of the fetus as an unborn child—a pro-choice war on science.
But The Politics of Abortion provides more questions than answers. For example, the author points out the role of revisionist Catholic doctrine in shaping the Democratic Party's Ahab-like obsession with abortion-on-demand, but does not explain why the party—and its deeply divided constituency—accept revisionist Catholicism in the first place. In the end, Hendershott's suggestion that the pro-choice movement be "contained" and engaged rather than fought tooth and nail seems oblivious to her own snapshot of abortion politics; pro-choicers will not surrender national abortion-on-demand without a fight.
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This article appeared in the Winter 2006 issue of the Claremont Review of Books