An ""ordinary,"" undramatic day at an abortion clinic--chiefly apropos of why so many women are having abortions, and how to lessen the need. Howe, author of the dead-level Pink Collar Workers, was attentive to the cases that turned up at the White Plains, N.Y., clinic and to the motivation and conduct of the staff; but she eschews the emotional intensity and close detailing of many such accounts. She is alert to the social and medical issues, but she does little proselytizing. All of which should make her report broadly acceptable and persuasive. What she finds is women for whom contraceptive measures failed, or who didn't practice them regularly--from bad experiences with the Pill and/or justifiable wariness of IUDs. She, and the clinic workers, are pro-diaphragm--but that requires more instruction, usually available only to the better-off. She also found women whose husbands (or regular partners) were against contraception on principle, or because it lessened their pleasure; male abdication-of-responsibility since the Pill brings a general call, again from the clinic workers too, for a return to the condom in new, untried relationships. And Howe found women who couldn't afford to have a baby--which elicits comment on Reagan preachments-and-policies. The general tenor, indeed, is that anti-abortion forces aren't making it easier for women to avoid abortions. Also indicted in this regard are laws requiring parental notification or consent: young teens are more likely to delay anyhow, and to incur greater hazards. Denial of federal and state funds has the same effect on the poor. (Howe also scores doctors' preference for saline or prostagladin instillation, for second-trimester abortions, over the safer dilation-and-evacuation method: ""D&E requires the physician to assume the greater physical and emotional burden""--of having to see and touch the fetus--""while instillation places nearly the entire burden on the patient herself,"" of having to expel it by active labor.) Calm, firm, informative.