A PRIVATE MATTER: RU-486 and the Abortion Crisis by Lawrence Lader

A PRIVATE MATTER: RU-486 and the Abortion Crisis

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An early pioneer of abortion rights recounts the struggle over a pill that could almost completely remove the matter from the public sphere. Lader (Politics, Power, and the Church, 1987, etc.), one of the early founders of the National Abortion Rights Action League, gives a concise history of the abortion rights movement over the last 30 years and explains how RU-486, ""the abortion pill,"" fits into it. He narrates the growth of grassroots support for the repeal of abortion laws, the success of those efforts, and the challenges from religious extremists--which have culminated in the state of siege in which many family-planning clinics find themselves today. He also chronicles French scientists' discovery of a safe oral abortifacient and the attempt of abortion-rights activists, including himself, to bring it to the US--efforts that included smuggling in a Chinese copy of the pill. RU-486 remains unavailable in this country, due to government inaction and the religious rights' insistence on boycotting any participating company. Lader is a lucid writer whose firsthand knowledge of the movement's history is evident. However, his tendency to pat himself on the back and spotlight his own contributions is irritating (for instance, he credits his own 1966 book, Abortion, with stimulating the formation of a national pro-choice movement). Also troubling is the half-heartedness of his attempts to address his personal motivations for spearheading such a movement; hinted at are a healthy sex drive, sympathy for feminism, ego, a wish to contribute to social change, and a sexual preference for strong, selfdetermined women. But Lader avoids delving more deeply and settles instead for assuring us that he has thought about these issues. Despite the author's self-congratulation and lack of self-examination, an informative history.

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 1995
Page count: 214pp
Publisher: Prometheus