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SAGE Publications

Cover Image: Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States
  • Date: 08/15/2006
  • Format: Print Paperback
  • Price: $44.00
  • ISBN: 978-1-93311-689-1
  • Pages: 195
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Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? Abortion Politics in the United States
Melody Rose, Portland State University

2007 Choice Outstanding Academic Title!

The Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. Yet while the medical procedure is legal—and safe—many women across the country do not have the ability to exercise this reproductive right. Melody Rose examines abortion as a social regulatory policy, thoughtfully and thoroughly chronicling the erosion of abortion rights and availability since Roe. Paying respect to all views of this controversial topic in her engaging new book, Rose explores the success of the right-to-life movement in accumulating local and national policies that restrict access to abortion while enhancing fetal protections. In addition to a basic and brief primer on the practice and history of abortion, Rose considers the roles played by the courts, political parties, and interest groups in constructing barriers to abortion. With an examination of public opinion poll data and a look at both state and national statutory prohibitions on abortion, Rose also shows how powerful language wars have resulted in material policy alterations. Chapter-opening vignettes and vivid storytelling make this brief and topical supplement a good read that is sure to get your students thinking critically about this highly charged topic. As well, the author has augmented chapters with further reading suggestions and provocative discussion questions that invite insightful discussion and analysis.

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Table of Contents


A Brief History of American Abortion Policy
The Opposition Emerges
The Current Debate
Abortion as Social Regulatory Policy
Political Labels
Research Methodology
Maternal and Fetal Citizenship
Book Overview
Discussion Questions
Suggested Readings

1. Abortion: Just the Facts

Is America Unique on the World Stage?
The Court of Public Opinion
Discussion Questions

2. Abortion on Demand? The Supreme Court and Abortion Rights

Physicians as Authorities
The Court Acknowledges a Right of Privacy
The Intermediate Years: Protecting Choice, Denying Rights
Neutral No More: Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
Casey: Supplanting Doctor Authority with State Authority
Stenberg v. Carhart: A Footnote or a Shift?
Discussion Questions
For Further Reading

3. Abortion Restrictions in the States

Practical Barriers to Abortion Access
Statutory Barriers to Abortion Access
Patterns of Restriction and Protection
State Protections for the Fetus
Discussion Questions
For Further Reading

4. Abortion and the Federal Government

Constitutional Amendment or Statutory Ban?
Banning Federal Funding of Abortion
The Pro-Life Movement Tries to Organize
The Pro-Life Movement Sets the Terms of the Debate
A New Strategy for a New Century: Persuade, Protect, and Prohibit
Nomination Politics and the Making of a New Supreme Court
Discussion Questions
For Further Reading

5. Pro-Choice, Pro-Life, or Pro-Birth? The Partisan Maneuverings of Abortion Politics

Party Lines Converge
The Parties Organize to Win Elections
Party in Government
Discussion Questions
For Further Reading

6. Conclusion: The Pendulum Swings

The Physicians Return
Women’s Self-Help Movement
The Religious Left
Discussion Questions
For Further Reading

Appendix A: National Political Party Platforms Statements on Abortion
Appendix B: Web Resources


"Roe versus Wade is still headline news almost every day. Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? will give both scholars and students a better understanding of how we arrived at today’s issues and insight into what the future holds. Melody Rose approaches the topic of abortion in America with fresh and informative analysis that may expand insights for those on both sides of the issue."

- Sarah Weddington, The Weddington Center

"I was once a mentor of Melody [Rose] at Cornell. Now, she is my teacher. I have relied heavily on her published work, and now I have it all together in Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? This book will be required reading from almost any perspective and any ideological leaning."

- Theodore J. Lowi, Cornell University

"Melody Rose’s Safe, Legal, and Unavailable? is a timely contribution to the ever-present controversy over access to abortion. The author takes a deliberately provocative approach that successfully achieves the avowed goal of engaging the reader from the start. In doing so, Rose avoids both the vitriol of many popular polemics and the dryness characteristic of many scholarly tomes. Instead, she brings to bear careful empirical evidence to astutely support her argument in a lively and engaging manner. It is an excellent ‘read’ for students, scholars, and policymakers alike, offering a wealth of information as well as a plethora of thought-provoking insights. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the debate over reproductive rights and the place of this debate in the contemporary political scene."

- Wendy L. Martinek, Binghamton University

"Melody Rose's text provides for a thoughtful analysis of how political factors affect and are affected by the abortion issue. The extensive data sources provided are well beyond those usually included in a text of this type."

- Terri Susan Fine, University of Central Florida
Melody Rose, Portland State University

Melody Rose is associate professor of political science at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University where she teaches courses in American government and politics and is the Program Director of NEW Leadership™ Oregon, an affiliate of the NEW Leadership™ Development Network, which partners with Rutgers University to offer political and leadership training programs to college women in Oregon. She has authored a number of articles and book chapters on national and Oregon social policy and is writing two books: She Flies with Her Own Wings, an analysis of the oral histories of Oregon’s first elected political women; and an encyclopedia of primary source documents on abortion history. Rose has served on the Board of Directors for the Classroom Law Project, a non-profit organization that seeks to train K-12 teachers in civic education curricula and strategies, and is a regular political analyst on local, state, and national media on matters of elections, voting, and women’s political action. Rose lives in Portland with her husband and their four children.

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