A Year on Abortion's Front Line
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 A skillful report by Hertz (Journalism/Univ. of New Hampshire) on the struggles of Preterm Health Services, an abortion clinic in Brookline, Mass., to continue operating amid repeated efforts by an anti-abortion group, Operation Rescue, to shut it down. Hertz captures not only the dedication and weariness of Preterm's staff, the fears and anguish of its patients, and the fervor of Operation Rescue's leaders, but also the mixed feelings of the police assigned to monitor the anti-abortionists, head off trouble when possible, and arrest demonstrators when necessary. Anti-abortionists are not Preterm's only problem: pro-choice demonstrators, with their own political agenda in mind, heighten the crisis as they regularly confront their adversaries outside the clinic's doors. Hertz follows the story for one year, from March 1989 to March 1990, weaving in the political and legal background of the abortion conflict as it was then unfolding (in 1989 the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Webster case, a signal to many that women's rights under Roe v. Wade were in danger of being whittled away). Hertz's main concern is for those inside the clinic, as zealots on both sides wage their vocal and sometimes physical battles outside, and she is very good at getting inside the heads of staff and patients alike. Similarly, she helps the reader understand the feelings of the Irish Catholic detective who has to monitor the anti- abortionists, but her empathy does not extend to the leaders of Operation Rescue, and the pro-choice activists are given short shrift. Die-hards on both sides will object, but others will find this a gripping account by a woman who understands women and a writer who knows her subject and her craft.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-13-381914-0
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1991