The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988

The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988

The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988

The Press and Abortion, 1838-1988

Excerpt

In January, 1988, forces favoring and opposing abortion demonstrated in Washington and around the country on the 15th anniversary of theSupreme Court's Roe v. Wade legalization of widespread abortion. Fifteen years seems like an eternity in a land where the trend is toward 15-second commercials for presidential candidates; by 1988 both sides were hoping that their opponents would weary of the struggle and diminish their efforts. But if history is any guide, it appears that America's abortion wars have a long way to go, for they have gone a long way already. As this book shows, the year 1988 brought with it not the 15th but the 150th anniversary of the struggle.

The history of abortion and the press is an exciting tale of "trunk murers" and buried bodies, doctors' crusades and behind-the-scenes manipulation, courage, and timidity. And yet, despite all the billions of words written about the current abortion debate, the vibrant history of America's abortion wars remains a largely untold story. One book on 19th century practice, brief overviews in a few chapters of some other books, a handful of articles, and a few stories about particularly colorful characters, are all we have.

Many people, even those active in the abortion debate, believe that the conflict originated in the 1960s. Others are vaguely aware of some skirmishing in the 19th century, but incorrectly call the first half of the 20th century "the silent years." An examination of abortion history over the past 150 years, as strained through the press, may help us to understand more deeply the nature of the continuing warfare.

A parallel gap exists in the literature concerning media handling of is-

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