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Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women's health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment - because they believe in what they are doing. These providers' voices have not been heard in recent debates, leaving the public with a deficient understanding of exactly how abortion is limited in this country, yet their experiences illuminate the truth of the issue and offer us a path to a better policy.
Abortion is a legal, common and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon - targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers - is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail and otherwise terrorized.
Those who seek help from the law are sometimes successful, but not always, either because there are insufficient protections built into the law, or because law enforcement officials fail to respond. In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Abortion providers are targeted at home, at work or in community spaces; they can be harassed in person or online. Abortion opponents target not only the providers themselves but also may go after their families, neighbors and others close to them. The response of law enforcement at the federal, state and local levels is spotty. Though there are some strong laws on the books, especially at the federal level, abortion providers have had mixed experiences when it comes to legal recourse, and effectiveness varies. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest.
David S. Cohen is a law professor at Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, where he teaches constitutional law and gender and the law. Prior to teaching, Cohen was a staff attorney at the Women's Law Project in Philadelphia and litigated cases involving abortion clinic safety, reproductive rights, Title IX and LGBT family law.
Krysten Connon is a 2012 graduate of the Drexel University School of Law. Following law school, Connon worked as a federal judicial law clerk. She is currently an attorney in private practice in Philadelphia.
NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland is the Maryland affiliate of NARAL Pro-Choice America. NPCM was established in 1981 to develop and sustain a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive options, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children and choosing legal abortion. NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund was founded in 1997 in order to support and protect, as a fundamental freedom, a woman’s right to make reproductive choices. This mission is accomplished through support of education, training programs and public policy initiatives.
TIME & DATE
Monday, February 8, 2016 - 7:00pm