An eloquent attempt to clarify the abortion and euthanasia debates by seeking to articulate and analyze the unspoken assumptions underlying them. To Dworkin (Law/NYU and Jurisprudence/Oxford; A Matter of Principle, 1985), the view of many antiabortion proponents—that a fetus is ``a helpless unborn child with rights and interests of its own from the moment of conception''—is absurd and untenable. Dworkin goes further: He argues that ``very few people...actually believe that, whatever they say.'' Instead, he contends that most people who oppose abortion do so not because they view a fetus as a person but because they believe that a human life has a ``sacred'' quality when its biological life begins. The author uses this distinction to explain the contradictory feelings (as reflected in polls) that many have about abortion: Most people, Dworkin reports, feel that although abortion is sometimes justifiable, it's ``a kind of cosmic shame when human life at any stage is deliberately extinguished.'' The author expands this insight into a wide-ranging constitutional argument: ``that because opinions about abortion rest on differing interpretations of a shared belief in the sanctity of human life, they are themselves essentially religious beliefs.'' Thus, he argues, prohibitions of abortion amount to an unconstitutional establishment of religion. This dovetails with his rejection of the ``originalism'' espoused by conservative legal scholars: Dworkin argues that the Bill of Rights was intended not as a rigid system of limited rules but as an invitation to reinterpretation by successive generation of judges. The author also applies his analysis to euthanasia in cases of terminal illness and debilitating disease, arguing—without resolving the issues presented—that each person's particular reasons for living will determine his or her point of view on this question. Dworkin won't convince ``pro-lifers'' or advocates of strict constitutional construction. Nonetheless: an original contribution to the abortion debate, as well as a stimulating discussion of our contradictory feelings about the meaning of human life.

Pub Date: May 19, 1993

ISBN: 0-394-58941-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

Did you like this book?


From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?