mali's Reviews > Absolute Convictions: My Father, a City, and the Conflict that Divided America

Absolute Convictions by Eyal Press
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's review
Apr 06, 2008

really liked it
Recommended to mali by: Diane Rehm show
Read in September, 2008

I picked up this book interested in the topic and not entirely making the connection to my own life until I started reading. I grew up near Buffalo (in Rochester, NY), and half of my family is originally from the Buffalo area (and yeah, we're Catholic). On top of that, the events described in the book happened when I was around 10 - 18. Can you believe I don't remember any of it happening? Either I tuned it out or it blended into the overall context in which I grew up - a heavily fundamentalist Christian (protestant and catholic) rural suburb of Rochester, where rhetoric about baby killers was not uncommon. I do remember driving to high school in 1998-99 and seeing protesters, from out of town, lined up along our 55-mph rural road to the school holding up giant signs depicting bloody aborted fetuses. I remember shaking my head and thinking, what is wrong with you that you'd be doing this outside of a school, waving those images at kids? We're not part of this.

It's interesting to get the full background of what was going on in the region and nationally at the time, and to try to match it up with what little I remember from my childhood. I had no idea that we were abortion ground zero in western New York, and I think half of my interested in Eyal Press's story ended up being local interest (which isn't a bad thing).

I read this book in one sitting - it's a fast, interesting read, and yet it is not superficial. Among the anecdotes, background information, interviews, and personal memories is an analysis of the situation that I think is spot-on and not often brought up in mainstream coverage: that much of the anti-abortion movement is also set on preventing us from getting ahold of information about sex and contraception. Press also addresses the whiteness and privilege of much of the mainstream pro-choice movement, and the disparities between what abortion and choice mean to middle-class whites versus the poor and women of color.
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