Long-time abortion rights advocate Mary Ann Sorrentino didn’t write The A Word to change anyone’s pro-life stance — though she does point out the about-face, in the opposite direction, that both Reagan and the elder Bush made on the issue when they rose to national prominence. Instead she creates an impassioned plea to that 66 percent (or more) of Americans who have repeatedly voted to retain a woman’s right to make decisions about what happens to her own body.
Sorrentino lines up her facts, relates a few “war stories,” ties together the current pieces of the debate — including stem cell research — and repeatedly reminds her readers of why we can’t return to “the bad old days” before 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision. Sorrentino was director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island from 1977-87, years when the abortion issue was front and center in the lives of Rhode Islanders as well as the nation. She not only kept the women’s clinic open and secure at a time when just 20 of the country’s 200 Planned Parenthood affiliates were willing to do so, but she was a tireless speaker, outspoken lobbyist, and lively debater on all aspects of women’s reproductive freedom and women’s rights.
Anyone who has lived in Rhode Island for the past 25 years will most likely re¬member that the Diocese of Providence excommunicated Sorrentino from the Catholic Church in 1985 (and threatened to prevent her daughter from being confirmed). Less well-known perhaps is that the Canon Law Society of America overturned that ruling in 1987. When Sorrentino left Planned Parenthood, she took to the airwaves as a talk show host on several local radio stations until 2000. She continues to write newspaper columns for the Standard Times in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and for the Providence Phoenix.
With so much personal history invested in this issue, Sorrentino as an author might have found it hard to pack everything she wanted to say into a 224-page paperback. Though the organization of the book leads to some repetition, the chapters are like the points in any debate, in which the strongest arguments are re-stated, re-shaped, and presented in different contexts.
Communion shouldn’t be based on politics, I had an abortion, Quiet warfare, More
- Communion shouldn’t be based on politics
Catholic priests call themselves “vicars of Christ,” so those giving communion need only recall Christ’s forgiveness of a thief on an adjacent Calvary cross, and ask, “What would Jesus do?”
- I had an abortion
Does anyone think about us, the people who have actually gone through with an abortion, and accepted that it was the right decision, for whatever reason, at that time?
- Quiet warfare
On September 11, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the terror attacks that devastated our nation, a man crashed his car into a building in Davenport, Iowa, hoping to blow it up and kill himself in the fire.
- Parental discretionary donors
Polarizin’ Palin has people everywhere opening their pocketbooks to the pro-choice movement’s benefit.
- After South Dakota
On the eve of the midterm elections, one church in South Dakota held round-the-clock prayer vigils imploring God to keep the state’s toughest-ever law criminalizing abortions on the books.
- Got Choice?
I hope for the day when my daughter and granddaughter will never have to write — or read — columns like this one.
- Unveiling the new (old) Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood wants abortions for everyone! Well, not exactly.
- Shifting sands
No matter what decisions are made by the courts, Congress, or state legislators, birth control and reproductive rights are at the nexus of public policy, individual privacy, health-care regulations, ethical arguments, religious beliefs, and morality
- Compassionate or coercive?
The election of Barack Obama has inspired dread among pro-lifers nationwide. But for the Rhode Island wing of the movement, the anxiety goes back quite a bit farther.
- Hummel splits from ABC6; Planned Parenthood CEO resigns
When Jim Hummel decided to depart last week because of the approach being pursued by new management, it seemed to encapsulate the take-this-paycheck-and-shove-it fantasy of many people.
- The problem with the Church's selective embrace
Pope Benedict recently lifted the excommunication of four bishops who had been consecrated without the required Vatican consent.
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