Originally published in 1986, Abortion and the Private Practice of Medicine was the first book to look at abortion from the perspective of physicians in private practice. Jonathan B. Imber spent two years observing and interviewing all twenty-six of the obstetrician-gynecologists in “Daleton,” a city that did not have an abortion clinic. The decision as to whether, when, and how to perform abortions was therefore essentially up to the individual doctor. Imber begins the volume with a historical survey of medical views on abortion and the medical profession’s response to the legalization of abortion in the United States. Quoting extensively from his interviews, he looks at various characteristics of doctors that may affect their professional opinion on abortion: their age, gender, religious background, and length of residence in the community; the nature of their training and prior experience; and the setting of the practice (whether group or solo). Imber found that the physicians’ reasons for agreeing or refusing to perform abortions revealed considerable differences of opinion about how they construe their responsibilities.
“This powerfully analytic, insight-provoking account . . . gives us intimate access to what he terms the ‘haunting ambivalence’ with which these physicians think and feel about the procedure of abortion. Imber brilliantly shows the empirical and symbolic relationship between this particular ‘doctor’s dilemma,’ and the current state of the ‘cultural legacy’ of the medical profession and the larger society of which it is a part.”
—Renée C. Fox, University of Pennsylvania
1. Abortion as a Medical Responsibility 2. The Physician in the Abortion Controversy 3. Medical Practice and Family Planning in Daleton 4. The First-Trimester Abortion: Standard Procedures 5. The Second-Trimester Abortion: Limited Procedures 6. Innovation and the Refuge of Private Practice 7. Beyond the Politics of Abortion