About the Book

Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon-targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers-is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail, and otherwise terrorized. Those who seek help from the law are sometimes successful, but not always, either because there are insufficient protections built into the law, or because law enforcement officials fail to respond. 

In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Abortion providers are targeted at home, at work, or in community spaces; they can be harassed in person or online. Abortion opponents target not only the providers themselves but also may go after their families, neighbors, and others close to them. This kind of targeting happens anywhere in the country, not just in more conservative areas, and can victimize all providers, not just high-profile doctors. For some, being the victim of targeted harassment inspires significant fear and leads to changes in behavior; for others, it has become a normal part of life; and for yet others, it actively strengthens their resolve. The response of law enforcement at the federal, state, and local levels is spotty-though there are some strong laws on the books, especially at the federal level, abortion providers have had mixed experiences when it comes to legal recourse, and effectiveness varies. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest. 

Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women's health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment because they believe in what they are doing. These providers' voices have not been heard in recent debates, leaving the public with a deficient understanding of exactly how abortion is limited in this country, yet their experiences illuminate the truth of the issue and offer us a path to a better policy.

Praise for Living in the Crosshairs:

Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.com: "It's all too easy for Americans to imagine that protest targeting abortion workers has died down in recent years. David Cohen and Krysten Connon's Living in the Crosshairs offers a bracing corrective to that misimpression, with this deep dive into the daily lives of abortion providers -- from bulletproof vests to online stalking. Living in the Crosshairs affords us a look at the legal framework that protects providers from such targeted harassment and imagines the reforms needed to do so more effectively. For anyone wondering why reproductive freedom is on the decline in America, this book moves the conversation from vague abstraction to the vitally concrete."

Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights: "In this compelling and important book, Cohen and Connon show beyond a doubt that the harassment of abortion providers is ongoing, pervasive, serious -- and often unpunished. It's time to call it by its rightful name: terrorism."

Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law: "Cohen and Connon have written a terrific, though chilling book describing how abortion providers are harassed and terrorized. Relying on in-depth interviews, they offer an unprecedented description of what those who provide reproductive health services must endure. Their proposals for legal reform should be an agenda for action and legislatures across the country."

Carole Joffe, Professor, University of California, San Francisco; author, Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: "Living in the Crosshairs is an extremely important addition to the literature on abortion in the United States. For those readers unfamiliar with the day-to-day realities of abortion provision, this book will be a true eye-opener, as the authors detail the unacceptable, often harrowing, situations that abortion providers have long endured at the hands of their opponents, and continue to do so to this day. Most valuably, the book outlines the necessary legal and social reforms to address this violence and terrorism. A must-read for those who care about the future of abortion availability in this country."