The Abortion Controversy: A Documentary History

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This collection brings together for the first time the key primary documents in the history of the abortion controversy in the United States. Organized by historical period, these 92 documents tell the story of this highly charged issue. An explanatory introduction geared to the needs of high school and college students accompanies each document. The collection emphasizes the political and social aspects of the debate, and many voices and conflicting views resound--in congressional hearings, Supreme Court decisions, government reports, party platforms, position papers, statutes, biographical accounts, and news stories. The heart of the work is the drama of Roe v. Wade--the cases that led to it, the Supreme Court decision and dissenting opinions, the reaction in Congress, public opinion, political consequences, and the most recent court tests.

The work is divided into five sections: Part I covers the historical period from its European inception until the beginning of the reform movement in the United States in the 1960s. Part II looks at the developments in 1960-1972 that led to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973. Part III focuses on Roe v. Wade and the reaction to the decision. Part IV, The Battlelines Are Drawn, 1974-1980, describes the political battles over abortion in the 1970s. Part V includes documents from the Reagan/Bush administrations and ends with the beginning of the Clinton administration in 1993. Each chapter includes a list of suggested readings. The book concludes with a chronology of events in the abortion controversy and a list of decisions of the United States Supreme Court relating to abortion. The collection will be especially useful for high school, junior college, and college students, and for public libraries.

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Editorial Reviews

Begins a series providing high school and college students with substantive and background material on important issues and their historical course. A collection of 92 documents relating to the abortion controversy in the US, many of them position statements by interest groups and testimony before courts or legislative committees. Arranged chronologically, they set the historical context going back to the Middle Ages, sample the debate from the 1960s to the 1990s, and extend to such recent issues as violence at abortion clinics and the banning of new drugs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

EVA R. RUBIN is Professor of Political Science and Public Administration at North Carolina State University.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword


Before 1960

The Early History of Abortion

The Common Law

A Short History of Abortion Policy in the United States: The Historians' Brief

The Medical Crusade against Abortion (1840-1880)

Criminal Abortion Laws

The Legal Prohibition of Contraception

Signs of Change (1940-1960)

The Abortion Reform Movement (1960-1972)

The Bad Old Days

The National Organization for Women

Two Reformers: Lawrence Lader and Patricia Maginnis

Mounting a Constitutional Attack on State Abortion Laws

Task Force Report on Family Law and Policy American Women, 1968


The Thalidomide Scare and the German Measles Epidemic

Concern about Population Pressures

The Medical Profession: New Medical Techniques


Philosophical Arguments for and against the Liberalization of Abortion Laws

The 1973 Abortion Cases

The Constitutional Provisions: Liberty, Privacy, and the Ninth Amendment

The Fourteenth Amendment

Griswold v. Connecticut and the Right to Privacy

How the Cases Got Started

Inside the Court

The Cases: Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton

Doe v. Bolton: The Companion Case

Public Reaction

Reaction in Congress

The Law Professors

The Battle Lines Are Drawn (1974-1980)

Missouri Passes a Restrictive Statute

Parental Consent and the Rights of Minors

State Cut Off Funding for Elective Abortions

Legislative Attempts by Congress to Limit Abortion

The Edelin Case (1975)

A Human Life Amendment

Hearing on Two Constitutional Amendments before the Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments on the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 1974-1975

The Report of the United States Commission on CivilRights on the Human Life Amendments (1975)

Religious Groups Enter the Political Fray

Fundamentalist Chruches Become Involved in Politics

Abortion Becomes an Issue in Presidential Politics, 1976-1977

The Reagan and Bush Administration and Beyond (1980-)

Republican and Democratic Platform Statements on Abortion and the Selection of Judges (1980-1992)

Congress Deliberates

The Human Life Bill (1981)

The Freedom of Choice Bill (1992)

Packing the Supreme Court

Abortion Decisions by the Reagan-Bush Supreme Court, 1983-1992

Abortion Clinic Violence

Health Effects of Abortion on Women: the Koop Report, 1989

The Import Ban on a New Abortifacient Drug, RU-486

Epilogue: 1993 and After

Appendix A: Major Supreme Court Decisions Related to Abortion, 1973-1992

Appendix B: Chronology of Events in the Abortion Controversy


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