Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade, Updated / Edition 1

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Liberty and Sexuality is a definitive account of the legal and political struggles that created the right to privacy and won constitutional protection for a woman's right to choose abortion.

Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established that right, grew out of not only efforts to legalize abortion but also out of earlier battles against statutes that criminalized birth control. When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, voided such a prohibition as an outrageous intrusion upon marital privacy, it opened a previously unimagined constitutional door: the opportunity to argue that a woman's access to a safe, legal abortion was also a fundamental constitutional right.

Garrow's essential history details both the unheralded contributions of the young lawyers who filed America's first abortion rights cases and also the inside-the-Supreme Court deliberations that produced Roe v. Wade.

In this updated and expanded paperback edition, Garrow also traces the post-Roe evolution of abortion rights battles and the wider struggle for sexual privacy up through the 25th anniversary of Roe in early 1998.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Behind the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion lay 50 years of legal struggle. In this massively detailed, stirring chronicle, Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Martin Luther King Jr. (Bearing the Cross), shows how the courage and initiative of ordinary women and men made a crucial difference in establishing that right. He begins with Katharine Houghton Hepburn, an outspoken Connecticut activist who opened birth control clinics in the '30s in defiance of a state law. Following in Hepburn's footsteps, Estelle Griswold, executive director of Connecticut Planned Parenthood, succeeded in having her own criminal conviction reversed by the Supreme Court: the 1965 Griswold v . Connecticut decision, which declared unconstitutional an 1879 statute criminalizing the use or or counseling on birth control, paved the way for challenges to anti-abortion statutes across the U.S. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Garrow profiles key advocates of the liberalization or repeal of anti-abortion laws in the decades preceding Roe . In a cogent final chapter he argues that Roe v . Wade has sustained ``far greater wounds from the friendly fire of professed supporters than from the explicit attacks of candid opponents.'' Activists and students of legal history will be the most likely audience for this tome.
Library Journal
A Pulizer Prize winner for Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr., Garrow here recounts the 50-year legal and political battle for privacy in sexual matters. Starting with the efforts to lift restrictions on the use of birth control, Garrow considers the steps that eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Library Journal
A Pulizer Prize winner for Bearing the Cross, a biography of Martin Luther King Jr., Garrow here recounts the 50-year legal and political battle for privacy in sexual matters. Starting with the efforts to lift restrictions on the use of birth control, Garrow considers the steps that eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade.
Pulitzer-prize winner Garrow (Bearing the Cross) traces the struggle over sexual freedom from cases in the 1920s and 1930s, over the legality of using birth control, to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. He also considers the fate of sexual freedom after Roe v. Wade. A huge book about a huge subject. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
The New Yorker
[A] monumental, indispensable history.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520213029
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 12/9/1998
  • Edition description: First Edition, With a new epilogue
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 1064
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 2.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David J. Garrow is Presidential Distinguished Professor at Emory University's School of Law. He received the Pulitzer Prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Award for his biography of Martin Luther King, Bearing the Cross (1986). His earlier books include The FBI and Martin Luther King, Jr. (1981) and Protest at Selma (1978).

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Table of Contents

1 The Waterbury Origins of Roe v. Wade 1
2 No Further Service: Connecticut's Struggle for the Legalization of Birth Control, 1940-1953 79
3 One Vote Shy: Estelle Griswold, Fowler Harper, and the U.S. Supreme Court, 1954-1961 131
4 Creating the Right to Privacy: Estelle Griswold and the U.S. Supreme Court, 1961-1965 196
5 Lonely Voices: Abortion Reformers and the Origins of Change, 1933-1967 270
6 From Reform to Repeal: The Right to Abortion, 1967-1969 335
7 Into the Courts: Roe, Doe, and the Right to Abortion, 1969-1971 389
8 The Right to Abortion and the U.S. Supreme Court, 1971-1973 473
9 Liberty and Sexuality Since Roe v. Wade 600
Epilogue 705
Acknowledgments 707
Notes 713
Bibliography 916
Index 947
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