Liberty and Sexuality is a definitive account of the legal and political struggles that created the right to privacy and won constitutional protection for a woman's right to choose abortion.
Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established that right, grew out of not only efforts to legalize abortion but also out of earlier battles against statutes that criminalized birth control. When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, voided such a prohibition as an outrageous intrusion upon marital privacy, it opened a previously unimagined constitutional door: the opportunity to argue that a woman's access to a safe, legal abortion was also a fundamental constitutional right.
Garrow's essential history details both the unheralded contributions of the young lawyers who filed America's first abortion rights cases and also the inside-the-Supreme Court deliberations that produced Roe v. Wade.
In this updated and expanded paperback edition, Garrow also traces the post-Roe evolution of abortion rights battles and the wider struggle for sexual privacy up through the 25th anniversary of Roe in early 1998.
Behind the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision guaranteeing a woman's right to abortion lay 50 years of legal struggle. In this massively detailed, stirring chronicle, Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Martin Luther King Jr. (Bearing the Cross), shows how the courage and initiative of ordinary women and men made a crucial difference in establishing that right. He begins with Katharine Houghton Hepburn, an outspoken Connecticut activist who opened birth control clinics in the '30s in defiance of a state law. Following in Hepburn's footsteps, Estelle Griswold, executive director of Connecticut Planned Parenthood, succeeded in having her own criminal conviction reversed by the Supreme Court: the 1965 Griswold v . Connecticut decision, which declared unconstitutional an 1879 statute criminalizing the use or or counseling on birth control, paved the way for challenges to anti-abortion statutes across the U.S. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, Garrow profiles key advocates of the liberalization or repeal of anti-abortion laws in the decades preceding Roe . In a cogent final chapter he argues that Roe v . Wade has sustained ``far greater wounds from the friendly fire of professed supporters than from the explicit attacks of candid opponents.'' Activists and students of legal history will be the most likely audience for this tome.