Cover image for Encyclopedia of abortion in the United States
Encyclopedia of abortion in the United States
Palmer, Louis J., Jr., 1956-
Publication Information:
Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, [2002]

Physical Description:
vii, 420 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
Format :


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Material Type
Home Location
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HQ767.5.U5 P35 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize Non-Circ

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Prior to the 1973 United States Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the nation, the issue of abortion was not a headline news item. The decision in Roe dramatically altered this situation and made the controversial issue one of the most explosive confronting the United States. This encyclopedia traces the history of abortion from the founding of the nation to the present day. Arranged alphabetically, the entries address the political, legal, social, religious and medical issues associated with abortion. Included are entries that summarize every opinion rendered by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion up to the year 2002, the majority of abortion laws in each state and many of the thousands of abortion organizations that have developed since 1973. Abortion violence and demonstrations, and the laws designed to combat such protests, embryonic cloning, embryo/fetal stem cell research, assisted reproductive technology, and surrogacy, major birth defects and sexual diseases that impact the abortion decision are examples of topics that are covered.

Author Notes

Louis J. Palmer, Jr., is an attorney for the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The history of abortion in the U.S. has been written in the courtroom, beginning with the landmark case of Roe v. Wade in 1973. This A^-Z encyclopedia covers every Supreme Court opinion since that date. Legal coverage also includes the majority of abortion laws in each state. Entries for the Supreme Court cases are meticulously thorough. Complete citations are given along with all the case specifics such as date argued, date decided, concurring and dissenting opinions, and names of counsels. The background of each case is provided, as is significant text of the majority opinion. Every Supreme Court justice who rendered an opinion in an abortion case also has an entry giving a brief biographical sketch of the justice and comments on the pertinent case(s). Voting records of the justices are included. State law summaries begin with a brief overview of the state's legislative history regarding abortion, followed by text of the current state code. Additional coverage includes short paragraphs summarizing the philosophy and purpose of many pro-choice and pro-life organizations. The position of religious denominations appears in an entry entitled Religion and abortion. Abortion-related medical terms are covered, but details are brief. Examples of these terms are the various methods of abortion and contraception and genetic disorders. Supplementary statistical information accompanies some entries, but there is no main entry for statistics such as appear in Abortion: A Reference Handbook (2d ed., ABC-CLIO, 1996). The alphabetical index of names and entry headings does not make information retrieval easy; a subject index would have been more useful. Despite these problems the strong legal focus and currency of information make the encyclopedia a useful resource for public and academic libraries. Because of the focus on the period since Roe v. Wade, researchers will need to turn to sources such as Encyclopedia of Birth Control (ABC-CLIO, 2001) for historical perspective.

Library Journal Review

Abortion was one of those topics reserved for private conversations until 1973. After the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, it became a major headline and remains an important if controversial medical, political, religious, and ethical issue. Written by the attorney who also authored Encyclopedia of Capital Punishment in the United States, this volume documents the history of abortion in this country from the founding of the United States to the present. The alphabetical entries cover a wide range of topics related to abortion: methods of abortion, abortion laws of all 50 states, Supreme Court decisions, pro-choice and pro-life organizations, and violence and demonstrations. There are biographies of Supreme Court justices and activists for abortion (e.g., Bill Baird) and against it (e.g., Eric Robert Rudolph). Medical conditions that can affect pregnancy (cancers, heart disease) and birth defects and genetic diseases (spina bifida, Tay-Sachs disease) that may influence the decision to abort are covered, too. Graphs and charts provide statistics about abortion rates, voting trends, and sexually transmitted diseases. Unlike other resources, such as the titles in Gale's "Information Plus" and ABC-CLIO's "Contemporary World Issues" series, which present primarily moral arguments for and against abortion, this reference offers a comprehensive array of legal information not found elsewhere. Those interested in parental consent laws, the murders of abortion providers, children who survived abortion attempts, or the issue of late-term abortion can learn about these topics here. An excellent addition to academic, public, health science, and consumer health collections.-Barbara M. Bibel, Oakland P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Palmer's book plugs tightly the niche partially filled by Marie Costa's Abortion: A Reference Handbook (2nd ed., 1996). Palmer's previous titles on the death penalty in the US were well received. He focuses on legal aspects of abortion, supplying entries that detail the laws for each state pre- and post-Roe v. Wade, chart the number of abortions in each state since 1990, list pro-life and pro-choice groups (with see also references to pro-life or pro-choice organizations), provide important legal cases and legal figures, and describe birth defects that may lead to decisions to abort. The encyclopedia's language is balanced and free of rhetoric. The main weakness of the text is the lack of works other than laws cited in the text; the brief bibliography of books seems inadequate to the topic. The index points only to main entries, ignoring topics within other entries. Weaknesses notwithstanding, an excellent title. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. All academic and large public libraries. M. M. Adams Swarthmore College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. 1
The Encyclopediap. 3
Bibliographyp. 407
Indexp. 409