Roe v. Wade

The Abortion Rights Controversy in American History

Third Updated Edition

N. E. H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer

Few Supreme Court decisions have stirred up as much controversy, vitriolic debate, and even violence as Roe v. Wade in 1973. Four decades later, it remains a touchstone for the culture wars in the United States and a pivot upon which much of our politics turns. With that in mind, N. E. H. Hull and Peter Charles Hoffer have taken stock of the abortion debates, controversies, and cases that have emerged during the past decade in order to update their best-selling book on this landmark case.

As with the first two editions, this book details Roe v. Wade’s historical background; highlights the cases core issues, essential personalities, and key precedents; tracks the case’s path through the courts; clarifies the jurisprudence behind the Court’s ruling in Roe; assesses the impact of the presidential elections of George W. Bush and Barack Obama along with the confirmations of Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Samuel Alito, Justice Sonia Sotomayor; and gauges the case’s impact on American society and subsequent challenges to it in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), and Gonzales v. Carhart (2007). This third updated edition also adds two completely new chapters covering abortion politics and legal battles in Obama’s second term and Trumps first term.

The new material covers two important cases in detail: Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt (2016) and June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo (2020). The cases dealt with state laws—Texas and Louisiana, respectively—designed to limit access to abortion by requiring doctors performing abortions to have admission privileges at a state-authorized hospital within thirty miles of the abortion clinic. In both cases the Court ruled the laws unconstitutional, thus handing abortion rights’ activists key victories in the face of an increasingly conservative Court. The new chapters also cover the confirmations of Justices Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Brett Kavanaugh as well as the heated political environment surrounding the Court in the age of Trump.

About the Author

N. E. H. Hull is distinguished professor emerita of law at Rutgers Law School.

Peter Charles Hoffer is distinguished research professor of history at the University of Georgia.

Additional Titles in the Landmark Law Cases and American Society Series