The Street Politics of Abortion: Speech, Violence, and America’s Culture Wars

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by Joshua C. Wilson

Non-fiction (U.S.), 258 pages
Publisher: Stanford Law Books, September 4, 2013
ISBN-10: 0804785341
ISBN-13: 978-0804785341
Order: Amazon.com

The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade stands as a historic victory for abortion-rights activists. But rather than serving as the coda to what had been a comparatively low-profile social conflict, the decision mobilized a wave of anti-abortion protests and ignited a heated struggle that continues to this day. Picking up the story in the contentious decades that followed Roe, The Street Politics of Abortion is the first book to consider the rise and fall of clinic-front protests through the 1980s and 1990s, the most visible and contentious period in U.S. reproductive politics. Joshua Wilson considers how street level protests lead to three seminal Court decisions―Planned Parenthood v. Williams, Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N.Y., and Hill v. Colorado.

The eventual demise of street protests via these cases taught anti-abortion activists the value of incremental institutional strategies that could produce concrete policy gains without drawing the public’s attention. Activists on both sides ultimately moved―often literally―from the streets to fight in state legislative halls and courtrooms.  Wilson demonstrates how the abortion-rights movement, despite its initial success with Roe, has since faced continuous challenges and difficulties, while the anti-abortion movement continues to gain strength in spite of its losses.