Required reading for anyone concerned about reproductive justice.

THE TURNAWAY STUDY

TEN YEARS, A THOUSAND WOMEN, AND THE CONSEQUENCES OF HAVING—OF BEING DENIED—AN ABORTION

A compelling examination of “the state of abortion access in our country and the people whose lives are affected by it.”

Foster, a professor and researcher in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, synthesizes the findings of The Turnaway Study, a 10-year longitudinal project, involving 40 researchers, comparing the emotional, physical, and economic effects to women of having an abortion or being denied one due to a clinic’s deadline for when an abortion could be performed—a cutoff date that varied depending on the location of the clinic. The study excluded women seeking abortions because of fetal anomaly or severe health risk, which affect the timing of the decision. With much hearsay, unfounded assumptions, and strident rhetoric fueling public policy, the UCSF researchers aimed to provide scientific evidence about abortion “in the context of real women’s lives.” Beginning in 2007, the study included more than 1,000 women from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds, recruited from 30 facilities in 21 states. From in-depth interviews conducted every six months, Foster has selected 10 women whose stories are related in their own words: white, Latina, and African American; rural and urban; some with strong family support, some facing their decision alone; women enmeshed in abusive relationships; some already mothers and some who went on to have children later; all with hopes for the future. Their candid stories are riveting, sometimes surprising, and always illuminating—as are the study’s findings. There is “no evidence that abortion hurts women,” the study concludes. “For every outcome we analyzed, women who received an abortion were either the same or, more frequently, better off than women who were denied an abortion.” To those who assume women make the decision to abort rashly, the researchers found thoughtful deliberation.

Required reading for anyone concerned about reproductive justice.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-982141-56-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

HAPPY-GO-LUCKY

Sedaris remains stubbornly irreverent even in the face of pandemic lockdowns and social upheaval.

In his previous collection of original essays, Calypso (2018), the author was unusually downbeat, fixated on aging and the deaths of his mother and sister. There’s bad news in this book, too—most notably, the death of his problematic and seemingly indestructible father at 96—but Sedaris generally carries himself more lightly. On a trip to a gun range, he’s puzzled by boxer shorts with a holster feature, which he wishes were called “gunderpants.” He plays along with nursing-home staffers who, hearing a funnyman named David is on the premises, think he’s Dave Chappelle. He’s bemused by his sister Amy’s landing a new apartment to escape her territorial pet rabbit. On tour, he collects sheaves of off-color jokes and tales of sexual self-gratification gone wrong. His relationship with his partner, Hugh, remains contentious, but it’s mellowing. (“After thirty years, sleeping is the new having sex.”) Even more serious stuff rolls off him. Of Covid-19, he writes that “more than eight hundred thousand people have died to date, and I didn’t get to choose a one of them.” The author’s support of Black Lives Matter is tempered by his interest in the earnest conscientiousness of organizers ensuring everyone is fed and hydrated. (He refers to one such person as a “snacktivist.”) Such impolitic material, though, puts serious essays in sharper, more powerful relief. He recalls fending off the flirtations of a 12-year-old boy in France, frustrated by the language barrier and other factors that kept him from supporting a young gay man. His father’s death unlocks a crushing piece about dad’s inappropriate, sexualizing treatment of his children. For years—chronicled in many books—Sedaris labored to elude his father’s criticism. Even in death, though, it proves hard to escape or laugh off.

A sweet-and-sour set of pieces on loss, absurdity, and places they intersect.

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-39245-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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