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Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism
     

Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism

by David S. Cohen, Krysten Connon
 

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Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon-targeted vigilante action against individual

Overview

Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon-targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers-is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail, and otherwise terrorized. Those who seek help from the law are sometimes successful, but not always, either because there are insufficient protections built into the law, or because law enforcement officials fail to respond.

In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Abortion providers are targeted at home, at work, or in community spaces; they can be harassed in person or online. Abortion opponents target not only the providers themselves but also may go after their families, neighbors, and others close to them. This kind of targeting happens anywhere in the country, not just in more conservative areas, and can victimize all providers, not just high-profile doctors. For some, being the victim of targeted harassment inspires significant fear and leads to changes in behavior; for others, it has become a normal part of life; and for yet others, it actively strengthens their resolve. The response of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels is spotty-though there are some strong laws on the books, especially at the federal level, abortion providers have had mixed experiences when it comes to legal recourse, and effectiveness varies. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest.

Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women's health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment because they believe in what they are doing. These providers' voices have not been heard in recent debates, leaving the public with a deficient understanding of exactly how abortion is limited in this country, yet their experiences illuminate the truth of the issue and offer us a path to a better policy.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"It's all too easy for Americans to imagine that protest targeting abortion workers has died down in recent years. David Cohen and Krysten Connon's Living in the Crosshairs offers a bracing corrective to that misimpression, with this deep dive into the daily lives of abortion providers -- from bulletproof vests to online stalking. Living in the Crosshairs affords us a look at the legal framework that protects providers from such targeted harassment and imagines the reforms needed to do so more effectively. For anyone wondering why reproductive freedom is on the decline in America, this book moves the conversation from vague abstraction to the vitally concrete." -Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.com

"In this compelling and important book, Cohen and Connon show beyond a doubt that the harassment of abortion providers is ongoing, pervasive, serious -- and often unpunished. It's time to call it by its rightful name: terrorism." -Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights

"Cohen and Connon have written a terrific, though chilling book describing how abortion providers are harassed and terrorized. Relying on in-depth interviews, they offer an unprecedented description of what those who provide reproductive health services must endure. Their proposals for legal reform should be an agenda for action and legislatures across the country." -Erwin Chemerinsky, founding Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, and Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law, the University of California, Irvine School of Law

"Living in the Crosshairs is an extremely important addition to the literature on abortion in the United States. For those readers unfamiliar with the day-to-day realities of abortion provision, this book will be a true eye-opener, as the authors detail the unacceptable, often harrowing, situations that abortion providers have long endured at the hands of their opponents, and continue to do so to this day. Most valuably, the book outlines the necessary legal and social reforms to address this violence and terrorism. A must-read for those who care about the future of abortion availability in this country." -Carole Joffe, Professor, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, University of California, San Francisco; author, Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us

"Living in the Crosshairs gives statistics a human face often missing in media coverage as it details the real, day-to-day experiences of abortion providers in this country. In addition to bringing to light stories of harassment, Crosshairs also calls for reforms in the legal system, making it an absolute must-read for anyone in media and/or reproductive rights advocacy." -RH Reality Check

"...a gripping, well-researched and maddening book, and while it is not the first or only text to highlight the abuse foisted on providers, it offers a clear list of common-sense recommendations for improving staff and patient safety." -Truthout

"Living in the Crosshairs exposes the harrowing reality facing abortion providers in the U.S. Law professor David Cohen and attorney Krysten Connon vividly illustrate the impact of this nationwide campaign of terror on its victims. They examine the many inadequacies of law enforcement's current response to harassment of abortion providers, calling for additional responses from local law enforcement and extensively discussing the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act." -Ms. Magazine

"We are all guaranteed equal protection under the law, except for health care workers, administrators, and volunteers, as revealed in Living in the Crosshairs. Strong stomachs are required to read this book because the anti-abortion terrorists kidnap the children of clinic workers, assault them at their homes, and have committed murder. All persons not wishing to treat women as biblical chattel ought to read this book." -New York Journal of Books

"If, like many Americans, you thought the intensity of antiabortion activism had declined since the bad old days of mass clinic sit-ins and killings of doctors, read Living in the Crosshairs and think again." -Council for Secular Humanism

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199377558
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
05/13/2015
Pages:
336
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

David S. Cohen is a law professor at Drexel University School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law and gender and the law. Prior to teaching, Cohen was a staff attorney at the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia and litigated cases involving abortion clinic safety, reproductive rights, Title IX, and LGBT family law.

Krysten Connon is a 2012 graduate of the Drexel University School of Law. Following law school, Connon worked as a federal judicial law clerk. She is currently an attorney in private practice in Philadelphia.

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