Jennifer Roback Morse

A book with a presumptuous title like, How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex, had better deliver. Cristina Page’s book of this title tries to motivate people by scaring them. Pro-life advocates will not recognize themselves in the cartoon caricature Ms. Page presents of them. The vast numbers of middle of the road Americans, to whom this book is presumably addressed, won’t respond to it either. But there is one thing Page does get right: America is engaged in a titanic struggle over the meaning of sex.

Her version of how the pro-choice movement saved America? If it weren’t for NARAL, Pro-choice America, women would be home baking cookies for children and would never have made it into the work place. Never mind that the trend toward increasing labor force participation of married women goes all the way back to the turn of the twentieth century. If it weren’t for the pro-choice movement, abortion and contraception would be illegal in all states. Never mind that both abortion and contraception were legal in some states well before the Supreme Court decisions that discovered constitutional privacy rights to these things. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women will be reduced to trying to end their own pregnancies by having their boyfriends whack their bellies with a baseball bat. She never mentions the women who have died from legal abortions in this country.

Page criticizes crisis pregnancy centers, which pro-life groups have established all across America, because they don’t give "accurate information." The thousands of pro-life women who have donated millions of dollars worth of free medical care, baby clothes and supplies, and countless volunteer hours, will not recognize themselves in her description. In fact, I doubt that she grasps the significance of the term "pro-life women," since she barely seems to acknowledge their existence.

But let’s not quibble with Ms. Page about the caricature she presents of the pro-life movement. Let’s cut to the chase and address the question. What is sex all about?

Unlike Ms. Page, I am not going to try to pin the blame for the current condition of our sexual culture on any one group. Feminists, pornographers and certain parts of our corporate culture share some responsibility, along with abortion rights advocacy groups. But I do think groups like NARAL, Cristina Page’s employer, have a serious responsibility for the current condition of our culture.

Jennifer Roback Morse

Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D., is the author of Smart Sex: Finding Life-long Love In A Hook-up World. She blogs at

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