Obstacle Course

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by David S. Cohen & Carole E. Joffe

It seems unthinkable that citizens of one of the most powerful nations in the world must risk their lives and livelihoods in the search for access to necessary health care. And yet it is no surprise that in many places throughout the United States, getting an abortion can be a monumental challenge. Anti-choice politicians and activists have worked tirelessly to impose needless restrictions on this straightforward medical procedure that at best, delay it, and at worst, create medical risks and deny women their constitutionally protected right to choose.

Obstacle Course tells this story of abortion in America, capturing a disturbing reality of sometimes insurmountable barriers put in front of women trying to exercise their legal rights to medical services. Authors David S. Cohen and Carol Joffe lay bare the excruciating and often life-threatening process of terminating a pregnancy in the United States: the arbitrary waiting periods, forced ultrasounds, dishonest and malicious medical information, exorbitant financial burdens, and public shame.

Based on interviews with abortion providers and allies covering every state across the country, and the stories of patients, Obstacle Course reveals the unstoppable determination required of women in the pursuit of reproductive autonomy as well as the incredible commitment of abortion providers to make this a reality. Without the efforts of an unheralded army of doctors, nurses, social workers, activists, and volunteers, what is a legal right would be meaningless for the almost one million people per year who get abortions. There is a better way—treating abortion like any other form of health care—but the United States is a long way from that ideal.

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— David S. Cohen & Carole E. Joffe, Obstacle Course