28 June 2010

BEFORE ROE V. WADE

Before Roe V. Wade is a new book that takes a historic look at the abortion issue before the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973.

I am looking forward to reading the book after hearing an interview with one of its authors, Linda Greenhouse, who was on the Diane Rehm Show (NPR) today.

I suspect this book will provide even more context and insight as to how and why - in the 1970s - the abortion issue somehow overshadowed other women's health and equality issues. These issues - at the core of which was the [unratified] Equal Rights Amendment - were meant to build on the earlier successes of the womens' suffrage movement.

In the 1970s, the Women's Liberation movement (known now as the "Second Wave," circa 1960s-80s) was only beginning to nick at inequalities between men and women on the economic front. Not much building took place, however, once abortion became the focus.

It is hard to imagine a time when abortion was nothing more than a public health issue - which, as explained in the book, it had been - when there was no such things as pro-life and pro-choice.

I look forward to reading this book not just because it may shed light on a time when we did more than respond to bumper sticker slogans; but also because it promises to provide more clues behind when and how abortion took on a life of its own... and how it eventually sucked the oxygen out of everything else worth debating at the time pertaining to gender equality.