Leah Platt

Leah Platt is a writing fellow at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Making Choice Real

T he 25th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in January of 1998 was a bittersweet celebration. While pro-choice organizations were publicly paying tribute to a quarter-century of legal abortion, they were privately worried that the alarming decline in the number of abortion providers would soon strip reproductive rights of their meaning. After all, what good is the right to an abortion if there are no doctors left to perform the procedure? Abortion clinics, like other medical facilities, tend to cluster in urban areas; yet in 1996, one-third of American cities had no abortion services. Women in rural areas who choose to terminate their pregnancy often have to travel hundreds of miles or cross state lines to find a doctor willing to perform a perfectly legal operation. The New York Times Magazine commemorated Roe 's birthday in 1998 with a cover story on North Dakota's only remaining abortion doctor, a 60-year-old physician who also commuted to clinics in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Indiana in...

Regulating the Global Brothel

O n the night of september 10, 1997, Toronto police officers raided more than a dozen apartments suspected of being houses of ill repute. Twenty-two women, including the alleged madam, Wai Hing "Kitty" Chu, were charged on a total of 750 prostitution and immigration-related charges. All of the women were Asian and spoke no more than a few words of English. The press accounts of the raid were by turns titillating and full of moral outrage. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the women were helpless victims, "pretty, naive country bumpkins" who were exploited by an international crime syndicate (the U.S. police collaborated on parallel raids in San Jose). In a piece for The Toronto Sun, with the lurid headline "Sex Slaves: Fodder for Flesh Factories," a reporter profiled "Mary," a Thai prostitute, who obligingly described her first trick, a fumbling failure made to sound almost endearing. It is a familiar story by now: poor, vulnerable women from Thailand or the Ukraine promised...

The Talk of the Web

The New Yorker, as the only widely circulated general-interest American magazine without an active Web presence, is one of the last holdouts against the barbarians at the digital gate. Which is why we were surprised when, not long ago, a piece by Malcolm Gladwell, a New Yorker staff writer, popped up in our online Nexis search. A modern marvel, Nexis offers a full-text compendium of more than 30,000 publications. But until recently, The New Yorker has been conspicuously absent from the vast database. Does this signal a capitulation of the pen-and-ink magazine to the point-and-click winds of change? When we reached Gladwell (via electronic mail), he said he didn't think so. A Web site with an online archive "is allegedly in the works," he wrote, "although it is probably a long way off." In the meantime, a few staffers--Gladwell included--have taken it upon themselves to catalog their own article collections online (see www.gladwell.com ). But perhaps...

Trouble on the Mount

The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount , by Gershom Gorenberg. The Free Press, 275 pages, $25.00. A dispatch from the Middle East: "On the Mount, ... Palestinians began hurling rocks... . a police paramilitary unit opened up with live fire, killing a score of Palestinians. Riots spread through the occupied territories--and to the usually peaceful Arab towns in Israel." This could easily be an account of the latest Arab-Israeli conflict, which began with opposition leader Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the Temple Mount last fall. That it is actually a different skirmish--one set off in 1990 by the plans of a fringe Israeli group to lay a cornerstone for "the Third Temple"--neatly makes the point of Gershom Gorenberg's book The End of Days . Gorenberg, a senior editor for The Jerusalem Report , argues that the messianic fervor inspired by the Temple Mount makes the 35-acre plot a likely flash point. This we...

The Supreme Solution

Who will control the holy sites of Jerusalem? Israelis? Palestinians? Both? It's an old conundrum--and, as the latest round of violence sparked by a dispute over the Temple Mount area suggested once again, an intractable one. Now another answer is emerging. How about none of the above? Specifically, how about giving up on the idea of control by earthly inhabitants and putting the land in the hands of a higher power? The idea of "divine sovereignty" over the holy sites was advanced this summer in a report by the well-regarded Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies . The report, which was heralded by some as a creative solution and derided by others, calls for certain administrative matters to be worked out on the ground but for ultimate "ownership" to be left to the heavens. Though it may sound unrealistic, the idea has been catching on in diplomatic circles, so much so that it was recently incorporated into the formal U.S. negotiating strategy. Reports from the round of talks held in...

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