THE WORST OF TIMES by Patricia G. Miller


Email this review


 Being published on the 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion: a heartrending compilation of personal tales of abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. Young women born in the early 70's and later do not remember life before Roe v. Wade; as is made abundantly clear here, though, many of their mothers--and grandmothers--will never forget. Miller (a lawyer and long-time abortion-rights activist) presents the memories of women who had abortions; of doctors, mid-wives, and mechanics who performed abortions; of police who chased abortionists; and of children whose mothers died from abortions. The text simmers with emotion: fear, shame, anger, humiliation, determination, courage. Here are young women fighting to escape poverty and deprivation, and married women overwhelmed with five or six or more young children who can't face another pregnancy but whose husbands forbid birth control (at one time, the law required a husband's permission for birth control). Here are stories of legendary doctors, like the physician in Ashland, Pennsylvania, whose community looked the other way as he helped thousands of women. Other doctors were not so sympathetic: ``Put another potato in the stew,'' said an M.D. to one woman who, although pregnant, fled with her two young children from an abusive husband and had no idea how to feed her existing family, let alone a third child. Many of the embattled--including the doctors--viewed abortion as a legal, not a moral, issue: It was fear of jail, not damnation, that made abortion for so many of them a nightmare of dark parking lots, terrifying back rooms, and pain and loss endured alone. Unlikely, despite its eloquence, to change the minds of those opposed to abortion; but Miller's chronicle should stiffen the spines of those fighting to protect Roe v. Wade.

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 1993
ISBN: 0-06-019034-5
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 1992