Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950-2000

Rickie Solinger, Editor, Patricia Anderson, With, Sharon Gold-Steinberg, With
Rickie Solinger, Editor, Patricia Anderson, With, Sharon Gold-Steinberg, With University of California Press $45 (301p) ISBN 978-0-520-20256-6
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
America's struggle over legalized abortion, which will be both celebrated and mourned in January on the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, has forced the legal system and each individual to explore new definitions of medicine, law and morality in a search for answers to one of the most vexing questions of our time. Former Washington Post reporter Gorney has made a remarkable contribution to our understanding of this complex debate in her compelling and evenhanded history, an objective view of the events that have absorbed such enormous energy as each side has fought for what it sees as the only defensible position. Focusing on what turned out to be a pivotal state battle in Missouri, where the Roe decision's most serious threat came from the 1989 challenge, Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, Gorney tells with great compassion and sensitivity the stories of individuals on both sides whose passions fueled the political machine. These driven women and men, many without political or legal experience, learned to write bills and appeal decisions, to establish services and defend their clinics, and to lobby and organize in an enormous grassroots effort to see justice done. Critical for a subject this divisive, Gorney does not demand that the reader take a position, but explains the motivations for each side's actions, for their shifting strategies and similarly divisive internal struggles as the debate has raged on with increased intensity and heightened political stakes. The result is an important and engaging work that should help further the conversation in constructive ways for both sides. (Feb.) FYI: In Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950-2000, editor Rickie Solinger gathers essays from journalists, scholars, lawyers, physicians and others on historical and contemporary aspects of the debate. (Univ. of California, $45 301p ISBN 0-520-20256-2; $16.95 paper -20952-4)
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