A detailed analysis of U.S. Supreme Court decisions regarding abortion.
Debut author Carmichael (My Absolutely Insane Attempt to Rank All Cinema, 2010), a former attorney, brings his legal background to this thorough examination of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and other noteworthy Supreme Court decisions that have shaped abortion law in America. He provides a close reading of the justices’ legal reasoning in each decision and also analyzes media coverage, particularly regarding criminal prosecutions of abortion providers and mothers of abandoned fetuses. The book argues that the court has made substantial logical and legal mistakes in its decisions, resulting in an incoherent and potentially dangerous set of laws and regulations. Carmichael’s substantial research is evident in his copious footnotes, and his book pursues complex legal and ethical discussions of life, personhood, and rights. But although it does provide some criticism of the anti-abortion movement’s arguments and tactics, it doesn’t present its own conclusion—that the court erred in asserting a legal right to abortion—in a way that is likely to sway pro–abortion-rights readers. The prose often veers into hyperbole (“Roe has to qualify as the worst centralized planning since Stalin’s five-year-plan”) or sacrifices accuracy to argument (“Of course, all our abortion rules are actually mandated by federal judges, not by our elected representatives”). The book’s understanding of feminist thought can be grating, as well (“Feminism shot at patriarchy and killed our fathers”). However, readers who choose to engage with the book’s arguments will find them easy to follow, even if it isn’t entirely persuasive in its approach.
A thoroughly researched but uneven critique of abortion policy.