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After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate Hardcover – June 8, 2015

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Editorial Reviews


Resurrects the strange ancestry of the pro-life and pro-choice camps, which, in reality, are anything but. (The Economist 2015-06-20)

This varied and complex story is indeed often ‘lost’ amid today’s entrenched positions…[A] fair-minded analysis. (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels Commonweal 2015-10-29)

Ziegler shows the contingencies, shifts, and cross-cutting arguments in the strategies of both sides. (Linda Gordon Dissent 2016-04-01)

The story Ziegler tells has considerable relevance today. (Jessica Abrahams Prospect 2015-07-01)

The central thesis of Ziegler’s new book is that, however important the decision itself, the continuing struggles over abortion policies were largely shaped by politicians and social movements after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade in 1973…Some observers contend that the court ended what could have been a productive public debate, but Ziegler argues that the decision actually energized the opposing sides, leading them to adopt new strategies and rhetoric. By showing readers how organized reactions to this key decision shaped the politics of abortion, her study may help readers understand what will ensue following the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding same-sex marriage. (M. E. Ethridge Choice 2015-11-01)

An original and compelling history that complicates our understanding of abortion politics in important ways. Ziegler has written a real insiders’ account―rich and textured―that comprehensively traces the history of social movements’ response to Roe v. Wade, explaining how they developed, navigated internal tensions and external pressures, and made strategic and ideological choices and compromises. She demonstrates that the pro-life/pro-choice split was never inevitable; instead, it emerged in response to a variety of contingencies, including changing political conditions. (Sara Dubow, author of Ourselves Unborn: Fetal Meanings in Modern America)

Ziegler’s compelling book challenges conventional wisdom about Roe v. Wade’s short- and long-term consequences for social movements and the law. Using a wide range of sources, she shows how fluid the abortion debate remained in the decade following Roe, and details how activists on both sides responded in complicated ways to the decision and to other political constraints and opportunities in the 1970s and early 1980s. After Roe makes important and original contributions to constitutional law and legal history, and to the study of women, gender, and sexuality. (Serena Mayeri, author of Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution)

About the Author

Mary Ziegler is Stearns Weaver Miller Professor of Law at Florida State University College of Law.

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