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Joffe, CE, T.a. Weitz, and C.l. Stacey. “Uneasy Allies: Pro-Choice Physicians, Feminist Health Activists and the Struggle for Abortion Rights.” Sociology of Health & Illness 26, no. 6 (2004): 775–96.


This article takes a look at changing tensions in alliances between pro-choice physicians and feminist heath activists over the course of the 20th century. While these two groups have shifted from oppositional to acting in coalition, the authors demonstrate that their interests are inherently at odds. Feminists put women’s autonomy and choice at the center, where as physicians worry about maintaining provider control over diagnosis and treatment, in addition to provider safety. The authors identify three phases of the feminist activist/ pro-choice physician relationship. Tension and opposition characterized the first phase leading up to Roe v. Wade. The second phase following the ruling and into the 1990s was characterized by increased alliances, yet still tense. The most recent phase is one of allegiance, shifted in part because of the growth in power of mainstream feminist health activist organizations and largely in response to the more organized and powerful anti-abortion movement. This article explores the motivations and complexities of physicians who both provide and support access to abortion. Though an essential part of the discussion, medical providers are often left out of abortion discourse. This article draws on historical social movement sources to lay out the evolution of players involved in the abortion rights struggle. For students and scholars focusing on abortion activism, this is an essential read. However, the recent history described leaves out the reproductive justice movement, focusing instead on predominately white mainstream feminist reproductive health organizations.


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Coalitions   Abortion   Health care   History   Race/ethnicity: European American/white