By Dave Andrusko
Editor’s note. We are rapidly approaching the 42nd anniversary of the infamous 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. This month we are re-running posts from past editions of NRL News and NRL News Today. In January we will begin posting new stories about this tragedy. The following ran in 2013.
Published on the webpage of the American Historical Association, the essay/call to arms is titled, “The 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade: A Teachable Moment.” You can read Linda K. Kerber’s completely one-side perspective here .
At considerable length Prof. Kerber extols the virtues of all the recent scholarship favorable to abortion “rights” and encourages students (undergraduate and graduate) to interview the generation that is now in its eighties and nineties—the ones who fought the battles of the 1960s and 1970s.
Although she cites many, many books, she pegs her essay to the second edition of Linda Greenhouse’s and Reva Siegel’s “remarkable documentary history,” titled “Before Roe v. Wade: Voices that Shaped the Abortion Debate Before the Supreme Court’s Ruling.”
Kerber’s argument is that [pro-abortion] students should interview the gladiators because so many, many files that were part of other challenges to abortion laws “were discarded or locked in archival cases” once Roe v. Wade was handed down. With those files, Kerber writes, “went evidence of lived experience.”
Why is this important? Because (and this is true), every locality “has its own unwritten history—not only for the years before the Roe decision, but for the years afterwards.”
Let me make two quick points. First, here’s Simon & Schuster’s blurb for the 2010 edition of Greenhouse’s and Siegel’s book:
“In this ground breaking book, Linda Greenhouse, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who covered the Supreme Court for 30 years for The New York Times, and Reva Siegel, a Yale law professor, collect the most significant briefs that were presented to the Supreme Court, as well as important documents from the period leading up to the decision, and from the immediate aftermath. The book gives readers a better understanding of the context in which the Court decided the case, who the lawyers were presenting the briefs, and what their arguments focused on. The material collected for this book will reveal that the story of Roe v. Wade is more multi-dimensional than is commonly understood today.”
Interestingly, the updated book is accessible online, complete with new afterward. In the search engine I typed in “Norma McCorvey,” the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade. Guess what? One reference.
Wouldn’t you think that a book that purports to demonstrate that “the story of Roe v. Wade is more multi-dimensional than is commonly understood today” would talk about a remarkable woman who never had the abortion and who has since become a pro-life stalwart? Naw, doesn’t fit the narrative.
Second, the idea of interviewing pro-lifers who were active in the 1960s is an idea very much investigating. They had none of the resources of their adversaries: philanthropic money, a smitten media, a judiciary eager to accommodate “reform,” to name just three.
They had just willpower and determination. But they also had the truth, which is more precious than gold.