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To Offer Compassion: A History of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion

To Offer Compassion: A History of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion

by Doris Andrea Dirks, Patricia A. Relf


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In 1967, when abortion was either illegal or highly restricted in every U.S. state, a group of ministers and rabbis formed to counsel women with unwanted pregnancies—including referral to licensed physicians willing to perform the procedure. By 1973, when the Roe v. Wade court decision made abortion legal nationwide, the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (CCS) had spread from coast to coast, referred hundreds of thousands of women for safe abortions without a single fatality, become a medical consumer advocacy group, and opened its own clinic in New York City.

As religious leaders spoke out on issues of civil rights, peace, or poverty, CCS members were also called to action by the suffering of women who had approached them for help. Overwhelmingly male, white, affluent, and middle-aged, these mainline Protestant and Jewish clergy were nonetheless outspoken advocates for the rights of women, particularly poor women. To Offer Compassion is a detailed history of this unique and largely forgotten movement, drawing on extensive interviews with original participants and on primary documents from the CCS's operations.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299311308
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 05/16/2017
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Doris Andrea Dirks teaches at Mount Royal University. Patricia A. Relf is a freelance writer.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments                   Preface              Introduction                 1 How Can It Not Be Legal?                2 The Push for Change                        3 To Offer Compassion                       4 The Network Grows             5 The Women              6 Brushes with the Law                       7 A Different Kind of Radical Group              8 Available and Affordable                 9 Roe v. Wade and Beyond                    Appendix A: Clergy Statement on Abortion Law Reform and Consultation Service on Abortion                    Appendix B: Questionnaire Completed by Chicago CCS Counselors for Each Counselee, February 1970                 Appendix C: Referral Guidelines for Clergy Consultation Service Chapters                Appendix D: Statistics: Sampling of 6,455 Women Seen by New York Clergy Consultation Service              Notes               Major Works Cited                  Interviews Cited                       Index

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