Sex Roles, Vol. 41, Nos. 5/6, 1999
Th e New Civil War: The Psycholo gy, Cu lture , and Politics of A bo rtion.
Edited by L. J. B eckman an d S. M. Har
ey. Washington, DC: A merican
Psychologic al A ssociation, 1998, $49.95.
The New Ci
il War: The Psycho logy, Culture, an d Politics of A bortion is
a compre hensive guide to one of the most hotly conte sted issue s of our
time . Edite d by Linda J. B eckman and S. Marie Harve y, pe rhaps what is
most impre ssive about this colle ction is its exhaustive and thorough nature .
Working from a multidisciplinary perspective , the nume rous contributin g
authors exam ine the sociopolitic al, cultural, and psychologic al aspe cts of
abortion in the Unite d State s. De spite varie d background s, the authors all
originate from a fe minist standpoint and re cognize the dire ne ed for the
proce dure to re main safe and le gal, as ne arly half of all A merican wom en
will obtain at le ast one abortion during the ir re productive years.
Be fore the 1973 landmark Supre me Court ruling in Roe
. Wage ,
whereby abortion was e ffective ly legalized, women died by the thousands
at the hands of back-alle y butche rs. Since Roe, le ss than 1 woman in 100,000
will die from an abortion. In fact, the procedure re sults in fewer deaths
than childbirth or eve n a shot of pe nicillin. Despite the of® cial le gality of
the proce dure , it is still large ly unde r attack by oppone nts. The ® ght is far
from ove r, and is important that anyone who cham pions a woman’ s right
to choose unde rstand the ongoing thre ats abortion face s. The New Ci
War offe rs a clear, compelling e xplanation of the issues surrounding the
proce dure and the ways in which antiabortion activists attempt to crimi-
Divide d into ® ve parts, The New Ci
il War doe s not le ave one stone
unturne d. This colle ction of essays is well writte n, succinct, and concise .
Inde ed, such a book is a ne cessary resource for anyone interested not only
in the abortion de bate , but in the ove rarching patriarchal structure s that
create and maintain women’ s subordinatio n. Some of the essays might eve n
be utilize d as primary te xts by profe ssors of wom en’ s studie s and ge nder-
relate d or social psychology course s. In addition, clinicians and psychothe ra-
pists will be ne ® t from the hands-on sugge stions offered in the colle ction.
0360-0025/99/0900-0479$ 16.00 /0
1999 Ple num Publishing Co rpo rat ion