Contested Lives: The Abortion Debate in an American Community, Updated edition / Edition 1

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Overview


Based on the struggle over a Fargo, North Dakota, abortion clinic, Contested Lives explores one of the central social conflicts of our time. Both wide-ranging and rich in detail, it speaks not simply to the abortion issue but also to the critical role of women's political activism.

A new introduction addresses the events of the last decade, which saw the emergence of Operation Rescue and a shift toward more violent, even deadly, forms of anti-abortion protest. Responses to this trend included government legislation, a decline in clinics and doctors offering abortion services, and also the formation of Common Ground, an alliance bringing together activists from both sides to address shared concerns. Ginsburg shows that what may have seemed an ephemeral artifact of "Midwestern feminism" of the 1980s actually foreshadowed unprecedented possibilities for reconciliation in one of the most entrenched conflicts of our times.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Contested sides of the enduring conflict over abortion and its importance in helping determine women's place in society are presented here by Ginsburg, associate professor of anthropology at New York University. In a scholarly, historically weighted study too specialized for general readers, the author relates the present debate to the changes wrought by economic and cultural developments that engendered modern feminism, along with the impact of legal, medical and political agendas on public attitudes towards abortion. Based on interviews with a pro-life and a pro-choice abortion activist, both of whom claim to represent women's real interests, Ginsburg contends that their viewpoints are largely derived from personal values, background and experiences of transition and difficulties in their own reproductive lives. Although she maintains that activists on both sides share many common concerns, she concludes that abortion remains a challenge to the concept of female gender identity linked to nurturance and domesticity.
Library Journal
By focusing on one small, localized struggle (in Fargo, N.D.) as it evolved over more than a decade, Ginsburg (anthropology, NYU) has provided an outstanding scholarly study of the abortion conflict. Her meticulous and sympathetic portrayals of the activists on both (or, as she reveals it, several) sides let her raise issues that transcend the ``pro-life versus pro-choice'' contest, and place the women, and those who would exploit their concerns, into a much broader cultural context. What began as a disputed state referendum campaign escalated into a battle over an abortion clinic, culminating in a social drama that was extended to a national audience via a TV newsmagazine. Her analysis of the role of symbols and metaphors in the propaganda , the competition among the various interest groups, and the life stories of the activists are particularly compelling. Highly recommended for serious readers and academics.-- Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Idaho
Library Journal
By focusing on one small, localized struggle (in Fargo, N.D.) as it evolved over more than a decade, Ginsburg (anthropology, NYU) has provided an outstanding scholarly study of the abortion conflict. Her meticulous and sympathetic portrayals of the activists on both (or, as she reveals it, several) sides let her raise issues that transcend the ``pro-life versus pro-choice'' contest, and place the women, and those who would exploit their concerns, into a much broader cultural context. What began as a disputed state referendum campaign escalated into a battle over an abortion clinic, culminating in a social drama that was extended to a national audience via a TV newsmagazine. Her analysis of the role of symbols and metaphors in the propaganda , the competition among the various interest groups, and the life stories of the activists are particularly compelling. Highly recommended for serious readers and academics.-- Beverly Miller, Boise State Univ. Lib., Idaho
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520217355
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1998
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 359
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Faye D. Ginsburg is Professor of Anthropology at New York University, where she also directs the Center for Media, Culture, and History. Her other works include (with Rayna Rapp) Conceiving the New World Order: The Global Politics of Reproduction (California, 1995).
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Table of Contents

Introduction to the Updated Edition
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 Introduction 1
Pt. I Abortion and the American Body Politic
2 From the Physicians' Campaign to Roe v. Wade 23
3 The Rise of the Right-to-Life Movement 43
Pt. II The Abortion Controversy in a Grass-roots Setting
4 The First Phase of Conflict 61
5 The Clinic Conflict 76
6 Interpretive Battlegrounds 94
7 Angles of Incidence, Angles of Reflection 111
Pt. III "Procreation Stories"
8 Interpreting Life Stories 133
9 The Pro-Choice Narratives 146
10 The Pro-Life Narratives 172
Pt. IV Reconstructing Gender in America
11 La Longue Duree 201
12 Conclusion 212
Epilogue: Pro-Dialogue 222
Appendix: Female Moral Reform Movements in America 227
Notes 249
Bibliography 287
Index 307
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