According to Kinsey, one-fifth to one-fourth of all pregnancies end in abortion. Twenty-five years ago, 30,000 abortions a year were performed in hospitals; today the number has dwindled to 8,000. In forty-two states the only legal abortion is the one undertaken to save the life of the mother; in no states do laws on abortion. allow the interruption of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest. Abortion committees hold sway to decide upon cases and often require a package deal of sterilization with abortion. Religious and political elements influence and confuse the issue. The result: the Puerto Rican weekend, or (particularly by those who cannot pay) the resort to the underworld of abortion, with its sordid risks, operating often in collusion with the police. Mr. Lader's reading may at times be suppositions, it hits sufficiently close to the fact to have impact. His book shows up the anachronism and inhumanity of the present laws, compares the variants (the Scandinavian middle way, the permissiveness of crowded Japan) about the world, recognizes efforts to modernize (in Britain), points to a blueprint for action. One case could effect a broad interpretation of the meaning of a threat to life. State laws acknowledging this: the manner of conception, the possibility of deformation in the baby would ameliorate. An abortifacient would be private and effective. Legalized abortion is seen as ""the final freedom,"" key to a world of wanted children. Catchall coverage on a subject that demands a hearing.