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Bearing Right

How Conservatives Won the Abortion War, With a New Preface

William Saletan (Author)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 343 pages
ISBN: 9780520243361
October 2004
$28.95, £19.95
In his gripping, behind-the-scenes account, journalist William Saletan reveals exactly how, thirty years after Roe v. Wade, "pro-choice" conservatives have won the abortion war. Having successfully turned abortion into a privacy issue, conservatives now prevail on issues ranging from abortion's legality and parental notification to Medicaid, rape, and cloning; consequently, reproductive autonomy is now becoming inaccessible to the young and the poor. This eye-opening exposé tells how abortion rights activists—people who desired social change, women's equality, and broader access to health care—have had their message co-opted in a culture of privacy and limited government. Bearing Right is also a story about the essentially conservative character of the United States today.

Saletan tells how, beginning in Arkansas in 1986 during the administration of Governor Bill Clinton, the National Abortion Rights Action League repackaged the abortion issue to give it broader appeal to conservatives. Pro-choice conservatives adopted this new rhetoric and made the abortion issue their own. Saletan takes us through the key events in the ensuing story—the fight over the nomination of Judge Robert Bork, the election of Governor Doug Wilder in Virginia, the convergence of the Bush and Clinton positions on abortion in 1992, and much more—right up to the present day.

This book is a crucial lesson in how politicians and interest groups can change the way we vote, not by telling us facts or lies, but by reshaping the way we think—in part through mass marketing. Today, the abortion rights movement must ask itself what it has won and what it is fighting for. This book is sure to play a role in answering that question.
Introduction
1. A Place Called Hope
2. Privacy and Prejudice
3. Who Decided
4. The New Mainstream
5. Triage
6. Middle Ground
7. Victims and Villains
8. The Right to Choose Life
9. The Era of Big Government
10. Fatal Position
Notes
Bibliography
Index
William Saletan is Chief Political Correspondent for the online magazine Slate. He has written for the New Republic, the Wall Street Journal, the Boston Globe, the Village Voice, Los Angeles Times, Mother Jones, and the Washingtonian.
“Saletan skillfully dissects the politics of abortion to offer fascinating insights into the larger question of our public debates and life . . . . We are in Saletan’s debt for providing an understanding of this divisive, complex and corrosive issue.”—Stanley I. Kutler Los Angeles Times Book Review
“A fascinating and detailed history of many of the high profile political battles in which choice was a major issue.”—Cecile Richards Conscience
“A revealing work of contrarian history.”—Wall Street Journal
“His book will appeal to scholars of women’s studies, policy, and law, as well as readers interested in how politics really works; highly recommended.”—Library Journal
“A fascinating tale of choices made and perhaps ultimately regretted.”—Amy Sullivan Washington Post Book World
“Will Saletan . . . has written a thought and engaging book on the politics of abortion. Saletan is a sharp thinker and has a nice, clean writing style.”—Ramesh Ponnuru National Review
“This persuasive story is an impressively researched chronology of political events surrounding the abortion movement.”—Alison Cagney Law Society Journal
“Saletan skillfully dissects the politics of abortion to offer fascinating insights into the larger question of our public debates and life . . . . We are in Saletan’s debt for providing an understanding of this divisive, complex and corrosive issue.”—Stanley I. Kutler Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Saletan's Bearing Right is as subtle and intelligent a study of abortion politics as has ever been written. You may not agree with the conclusions, but no one concerned about this issue can afford to miss this brilliant analysis."—Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary

"Saletan destroys the myth that there's nothing new to say about America's abortion debate. His argument that the pro-choice movement has preserved abortion rights by co-opting conservative rhetoric will make activists on both sides of the debate uncomfortable, which is an achievement in and of itself. There's no smarter political commentator in Washington today."—Peter Beinart, editor, The New Republic

"Will Saletan is one of America's shrewdest political writers. He brings clarity and intelligence to the roiling abortion debate, in a challenging and illuminating work of contemporary history. If you care about the issue of abortion, you must read this book."—Rich Lowry, editor, National Review

"A unique assessment of recent abortion politics. Saletan uncovers political and institutional strategies with lucidity and verve. This book makes a raft of challenging arguments--a must-read, especially now."—Rickie Solinger, author of Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the U.S.

"Will Saletan is a great political journalist with a strong moral sense. He also has an unusually shrewd understanding of what happens when ethics and values meet elections and the legislative process. So partisans on every side of the abortion debate--Saletan shows convincingly there are more than two--will be challenged by his book, at times upset, and always enlightened. Based on exceptional reporting and fiercely independent analysis, Bearing Right is eloquent, important, and surprising." --E.J. Dionne, Jr., syndicated columnist and author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"A unique assessment of recent abortion politics. Saletan uncovers political and institutional strategies with lucidity and verve. This book makes a raft of challenging arguments—a must-read, especially now."—Rickie Solinger, author of Beggars and Choosers: How the Politics of Choice Shapes Adoption, Abortion, and Welfare in the U.S.

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