[Skip to Content]
Access to paid content on this site is currently suspended due to excessive activity being detected from your IP address Please contact the publisher to request reinstatement.
[Skip to Content Landing]
July 10, 1996

Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade

Author Affiliations

Columbia University School of Public Health and College of Physicians and Surgeons and Beth Israel Medical Center New York, NY

JAMA. 1996;276(2):164-165. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03540020086038

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


Pickets, murders, firebombings, and a host of harassing activities have come to dominate the public image of abortion in America today. Many have assumed that the current national shortage of abortion providers results from physicians' legitimate fear of this violence. However, Carole Joffe argues in her book Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade, that the marginal status of abortion provision occurred long before the antiabortion movement took to violence, and that the medical community is responsible.

Joffe makes her case through examination of the stories of 45 "doctors of conscience," physicians who performed abortions when they were illegal and have continued to do so since the Roe v Wade decision. Her sample comprises 35 men and 10 women, all of whom had been successfully involved in mainstream medical careers before they began to provide abortions.

So much has changed and yet too