Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War

Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War

Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War

Wrath of Angels: The American Abortion War


Timed to the 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, Wrath of Angels is a very human story of the rise of the antiabortion movement, its critical role in the creation of the Religious Right, and the movement's ultimate descent into violence.

People on both sides of the abortion issue are no longer as certain as they once were about the moral, ethical, and political issues involved. Now, this responsible and timely work sheds light on one of the most important American social protest movements of the 20th century.

Jim Risen, an investigative reporter in the Washington Bureau of the Los Angeles Times, and Judy Thomas, a reporter for the Kansas City Star, are widely acknowledged as leading journalistic experts on the antiabortion movement and are two of only a handful of reporters specializing in the abortion issue. From page one of their riveting book, these two brilliant writers capture all the drama of the movement and offer answers to those questions that have long shrouded the issue in heated controversy: Why did the Supreme Court decision generate a nationwide antiabortion movement? Why was the antiabortion movement transformed from a largely Catholic -- and easily ignored -- movement of mild protest into an angry movement of passionate Protestant fundamentalists who filled up the nation's jails as a result of their acts of civil disobedience? Why did the movement turn to violence?


It was just after 10 P.M. on a bitter February night in 1985. Supreme Court Justice Harry A. Blackmun and his wife, Dorothy, sat in the living room of their third-floor apartment in suburban Arlington, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Moments after Blackmun left the room to go to bed, a loud crack shattered the silence and a bullet pierced the couple's window, showering Dorothy with splinters of glass. The slug from a 9mm handgun, which blasted a jagged hole in the window the size of a baseball, was later found embedded in a chair.

The FBI immediately suspected the shooting was connected to threatening letters Blackmun had been receiving from abortion opponents. Since writing the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion, the justice had been the target of dozens of death threats and truckloads of hate mail, some of which called him "the Butcher of Dachau," "a murderer," and "Pontius Pilate." Blackmun had received one particularly chilling threat the day of the shooting. The typewritten letter, sent in an envelope with a Buffalo, New York, postmark, read as follows: "Sir, I do not like the way you are doing your job. One day I am going to see you and shoot your brains out. I am going to shoot you dead and I will be coming to your funeral. . . ."

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