Girls on the Stand: How Courts Fail Pregnant Minors

Helena Silverstein, Author . New York Univ. $32 (239p) ISBN 978-0-8147-4031-6

In the wake of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, many states tested Roe by placing restrictions on abortion rights. Most states now have parental consent laws for women under age 18. For minors who have reason to avoid parental involvement, the Supreme Court has instituted a generally welcomed compromise that allows minors to seek authorization by a third party, usually a judge. In this groundbreaking study, Silverstein, a professor of government and law at Lafayette College, demonstrates that this compromise is fatally flawed. Widely surveying courts in Alabama, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, she discovered that while some courts implement the bypass process straightforwardly, in many others judges defy the law. Some will not sign bypass waivers because they oppose abortion; others insist that the minor receive counseling from a pro-life Christian ministry; still others appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of the fetus. Silverstein does an excellent job of explicating the serious problems with this compromise, concluding that it is rooted in the myth that judges can be relied on to be unbiased. While her writing tends toward the academic and legalistic, Silverstein has produced an important contribution to women's studies and legal practice and theory. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 239 pages - 978-0-8147-4073-6
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