Abortion. In a sharply divided America is there a more divisive issue? The bitter debate over Roe v. Wade--in the courts, legislatures, press, and streets--has grown ever more ferocious since the Supreme Court's landmark decision in 1973. For years pro-choicers have applauded Roe as a guarantee of women's rights, while pro-lifers have condemned it as the work of an activist and atheistic Court. Now it looms at the center of a growing political storm, as a new president, an old Court, and a divided Congress reconsider Roe's status in the wake of the controversial 2000 elections.
Anyone looking for a concise, balanced, readable, teachable, current, and complete guide to the case need search no further than this new volume by N. E. H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer. Giving due respect to both sides of the conflict, the authors effectively trace and analyze the core debates, examine the case's unique history, clarify the jurisprudence behind the Court's ruling, and gauge its impact on American society. Of special note is their revealing account of how the Court attempted to steer a middle course by rejecting both abortion on demand and the absolute right to life and yet, in the end, wound up igniting a firestorm of protest instead.
Unlike other accounts of Roe, this one examines the complete social and legal context of the case. Hull and Hoffer review more than a century of abortion practice (and abuse), common-law views on abortion, nineteenth-century criminalization measures, and the rapid changes in science, public mores, and civil rights that finally brought the issue before the Supreme Court. They also trace abortion law through the twentieth century, reprise the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, in which the Supreme Court overturned a state law against contraceptives, and reexamine the highly publicized attempts to reverse Roe in Webster v. Reproductive Services (1989) and Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992).
All of the key actors are here: Norma McCorvey, the "Jane Roe" who never actually had the abortion she originally sought; attorney Sarah Weddington, who challenged Texas law by drawing on her own abortion experience; lobbyists on both sides of the question; and each of the Supreme Court justices. This is a book that can inform and enlighten those on either side of the debate, as well as all of those in between.
This book is part of the Landmark Law Cases and American Society series. [via]