THE LAW GIVETH: Legal Aspects of the Abortion Controversy by Barbara with Bert N. Obrentz Milbauer

THE LAW GIVETH: Legal Aspects of the Abortion Controversy

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Two recent law school graduates try to make sense of the state of the law on abortion: the often convoluted reasoning that led to its current condition (legal for women in the first trimester who are of age, can pay their way, and have access to private abortion facilities) and what its journey through the courts and legislatures has to say about the American system of government. Their presentation, however, is equally disordered. Overlong excerpts from key reproductive freedom decisions (Roe v. Wade, Carey v. Population Services International) are interspersed with highly charged but unenlightening commentary (""the woman closest to [the Supreme Court Justices'] hearts was. . . Alice in Wonderland"") and unhelpful explanations of basic constitutional law concepts (such as standing and level of scrutiny in equal protection cases). Overall, the book tracks the major court decisions chronologically, also dilating on related social and legal issues (e.g., public aid and the Supreme Court's treatment of the indigent; the ramifications of calling a constitutional convention to draft a right-to-life amendment). It most nearly approaches readability, however, when it deals with human history. Still, the first-person account, by the plaintiff in Roe v. Wade, of the events that led her to seek an abortion is under-edited--a confusing sprawl--while the biographical material on Margaret Sanger is largely condensed from Lader and Meltzer's standard work. Most successful is a description of the Congressional hearings on a bill to define the beginning of human life, which benefits from the eloquence (or arrogance) of the participants. The authors' case for considering all aspects of a pregnancy in setting the legal standard for abortion loses force by being sprinkled repetitiously, and in general terms, throughout the book. Interested readers will do better, for the present, with Abortion Politics (1980), by Frederick Jaffe and others.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1983
Publisher: Atheneum