A book title as provocative as its subject matter – and its author

Cristina Page’s new book takes cold, hard look at a hot issue

Katie Wilber

A rape victim is denied emergency contraception. A teenage girl asks her boyfriend to hit her in the stomach with a baseball bat after a pregnancy crisis center lies to her about her options.

This isn’t an episode of “Law & Order.” These are documented accounts of women caught in a battle for the right to choose.

These women are bound by politics. The arguments about sex, birth control and reproduction spin in circles. Sex is for procreation. Sex is for pleasure. Make contraception easy. Make contraception moral.

Cristina Page has heard the banter on both sides of the issues – and she wants to re-center the discussion.

In her book “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex,” Page discusses the far-reaching implications of the pro-life movement, from the battle over emergency contraception to changing beliefs about family planning and abstinence.

And as far as the provocative title goes, “if you’re going to do it, you might as well do it with gusto,” Page said.

The vice president for the Institute of Reproductive Health Access at National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League Pro-Choice New York, Page is intelligent, well-spoken and well-written. Unlike radical author Michael Moore – who makes liberals run the other way with his melange of fact-and-opinion – Page assumes her audience has the intelligence to weigh the facts on its own.

Page shows that the pro-choice movement has reduced abortion and crime rates by making contraceptives available. She says pro-lifers, on the other hand, want to ban all forms of contraception and allow pharmacists to refuse to fill any prescriptions they choose for any reason.

“We have longed for an intellectually honest opponent in this debate for a long time,” she said, “and we hope to expose that we don’t have one that cares about reducing abortion and is, instead, fighting against the methods that have been proven to stop abortion.”

This isn’t a cut-and-dried textbook. Her facts, figures and arguments enlighten rather than bore the reader. Page is clever and a bit sarcastic, which can be aggravating or amusing, depending on personal opinion.

But abortion isn’t the only thing at the heart of her battle.

“The pro-life agenda isn’t just against abortion,” she said. “It’s about fighting every single form of contraception.”

Page discusses the pro-life side’s aim to eliminate abortion, contraception and comprehensive sexual education, all of which she strongly advocates for. It’s a fight that could produce frightening consequences for the 42 million sexually active women of the United States who do not want to become pregnant.

While the pro-life movement, Page said, is pushing to eliminate everything from condoms and intrauterine devices to the birth control pill, that’s where the fight stops.

“They say that the birth control pill is a form of abortion in itself,” she said, “so why aren’t they rushing to make something else available?”

Page’s book is well-intended, but her facts and points are sure to be ripped apart by some and praised by others, simply because of its contentious subject matter.

But the issues Page puts forth directly concern the women on this University campus, whether they believe that life is sacred in any form or that we have the right to decide. In fact, they concern men as well. They concern politics, freedom and an entire country’s future.

“When predetermined passions rule, medicine is powerless,” writes Page. Unfortunately, she probably is right.