Alexander Sanger to be biologically pro-life, one must be politically pro-choice
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    With reproductive freedom in jeopardy, Alexander Sanger, grandson of renowned family planning advocate Margaret Sanger and a longtime leader in the reproductive rights movement, has taken an urgent, fresh look at the pro-choice position—and even the pro-life position—and finds them necessary, but insufficient. In Beyond Choice he offers the first major re-thinking of these positions in thirty years.


    The Best Reviews
    If there is one thing that will surely stir up emotions is a heated debate between pro-life and pro-choice advocates. The debate invariably brings in political, legal, religious, moral, medical and sociological factors that often times only confuse those who are the spectators.

    Alexander Sanger is the recently retired president of Planned Parenthood of New York City and grandson of the renowned planning advocate Margaret Sanger. In his defense of pro-choice, as exposed in his recent book, Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom In The 21st Century, Sanger argues that having abortion legalized and accessible is morally right, nor morally wrong. It is his contention that there should be a new perspective when defending the right to abortion in that it should be viewed as less of a rights issue but rather more of a reproductive one. Up to now Sanger believes that the traditional arguments of the pro-choice as well as the pro-life defenders do not provide us with as much guidance as the public deserves and needs.

    As his principal objective is to defend pro-choice, Sanger maintains that the central challenge for those in favor of choice is to show that the movement has the ideas and philosophy to help people cope with the ethical dilemmas that new reproductive technologies present. Furthermore, he believes that American and worldwide views of abortion will become more pro-choice only when abortion is put into a reproductive and biological context. In other words, shift the perspective from rights to reproduction. As he states, "having the choice whether or not to become a parent and having a child has been and is essential to the survival and well-being of humanity." Furthermore, as he maintains, the abortion debate in the last quarter of the twentieth century failed to address the issue as to why it is biologically vital that women control childbearing.

    In order to advance his argument, Sanger examines the following topics: the origins of choice, reproductive freedom and human evolution, the reproductive rights debate that ignored reproduction, putting reproduction back into reproductive freedom, enlisting men in support of reproductive freedom, defending reproductive freedom from the dangers of reproductive technology, and should the government have the right to enter our bedrooms and enact abortion laws.

    Sanger neatly presents his arguments with a great deal of historical and scientific information incorporating his own personal observations. As to the validity of his arguments, readers will have to judge for themselves, however, this is what makes the book intriguing food for thought.
    —11 August 2004
    At a time when many people feel strongly about reproductive freedom based more on their religious beliefs than any facts, Alex Sanger's book is a bombshell. It is a scholarly, well-researched book that happens to be extremely readable. It's got a powerful point-of-view -- women have an absolute right to make their own reproductive choices -- that calmly and dispassionately examines the arguments of the "pro-life" movement. And it has a remarkable moral authority -- Alex Sanger is not only the grandson of family planning advocate Margaret Sanger, he's the former head of Planned Parenthood and is now Chair of the International Planned Parenthood Council.
    —30 April 2004
    Alexander Sanger's Beyond Choice is an extraordinary book. While I consider myself to be mostly pro-choice, I had never really asked myself the question why we should we have reproductive freedom in the first place. This is the question that Alex Sanger tackles in this provocative book. Sanger makes the case of why all reproductive freedom, including abortion, is moral because it helps humanity survive. The book discusses the difficulties and dangers, especially to women, of human reproduction and makes it clear that we evolved to have reproductive freedom because it helps women and children survive. Sanger is not afraid to say that there can be limits on choice, especially in the area of new reproductive technologies. Of more importance, the book sets out rationales and strategies for including men in the battle for reproductive rights, and defines what the role of government should and should not be in our private lives. I am convinced, as will all readers and writers be, that no one who wants to express any opinion on the issue of choice, or life, can do so without reading this page-turning and vitally important book.

    As someone who volunteers at a local women's clinic by escorting patients in to see the doctor of their choice, I find it hard to fathom the idea that I am supposed to reach out and appreciate the viewpoint of those who call me a murderer, call the employees of the clinic murderers, and call the patients murderers (screaming all the while). Reasoning can be done only with the reasonable. To suggest otherwise is simply foolish.

    Mr. Sanger is pro-choice, which is good. The government has no right, in a free society, to watch the progress of a pregnant woman and make sure she doesn't do anything to her own body. The quam with this book however, is that Mr. Sanger advocates socialistic policies that woudl basically force, through taxes, everyone to pay for prenatal healthcare, including abortions. If he was truly pro-choice, he would advocate the choice of whether or not to fund abortion.

    Publishers Weekly
    Sanger, grandson of reproductive rights activist Margaret Sanger, is dismayed by the abortion debate’s current stalemate, and in this pro-choice manifesto he asserts that pro-choice supporters face a difficult task if they want to persuade pro-life advocates to listen. He recalls being on a talk show where audience members were polled about their views before he spoke and then again after he finished. Although Sanger thought he made provocative and persuasive arguments, not one audience member was swayed.

    This indicates a larger problem, and Sanger posits that such ineffectiveness will harm the pro-choice camp in the future, as state legislatures enact pro-life legislation and more young people join the pro-life movement. After explaining why current methods aren’t working, Sanger opines on righting the pro-choice movement’s maladies. He suggests discussions that could change how those outside the pro-life camp view the issue. Including men in the conversation about reproductive rights would be a major step toward positive change, Sanger notes, and one that isn’t currently being taken. And, he notes, pro-choice advocates should take more time to understand the moral ground taken by pro-lifers and realize it’s crucial to shape a conversation about the morality and immorality of reproductive freedoms. Compellingly, Sanger touches on why unfettered choice is not morally defensible, and how reproductive technology may change the debate. Holding leadership positions at Planned Parenthood of New York City and the International Planned Parenthood Council gave Sanger much experience articulating the nuances of the pro-choice position to detractors. With this much-needed volume, perhaps now those within his movement can listen, too. (Jan.)

    Forecast: 2003 marked the 30-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which could help Sanger’s book get some attention. It has received advance praise from Christine Todd Whitman.
    —22 December 2003

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