Bodies on the Line: At the Front Lines of the Fight To Protect Abortion in America

Counterpoint. Apr. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781640094741. $26. SOC SCI
This history of abortion clinic escorts in the United States by writer and activist Rankin is timely, engaging, and full of compassion. Clinic escorts help pregnant people seeking abortion care to safely enter a medical facility, often having to walk past aggressive anti-choice protestors. By taking on this responsibility to support health care, clinic escorts put themselves in harm’s way and are vulnerable to harassment and even violence. Almost all clinic escorts are volunteers, and Rankin argues that their stories illustrate the harmful tactics by which anti-choice activists target people seeking abortions, and also that dedicated clinic escorts have been critical in maintaining access to abortion. The volunteers whom Rankin spotlights come from across the U.S. and span nearly 50 years, beginning in the post-Roe 1970s, continuing through the “Operation Rescue” demonstrations of the 1980s and ’90s, and ending in 2021, when attacks on abortion access and the complications of the COVID-19 pandemic came together to create a uniquely hostile environment for abortion clinics.
VERDICT This sweeping history will leave readers wanting to learn more. It is both a celebration of devoted volunteer clinic escorts and a call to action to improve the circumstances under which people seek health care.
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