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About the Author
Mary Ziegler is an expert on the law, history, and politics of reproduction, health care, and conservatism in the United States from 1945 to the present. She is one of the world’s leading historians of the U.S. abortion debate. She is the author of six books on social movement struggles around reproduction, autonomy, and the law, including Abortion and the Law in America: A Legal History, Roe v. Wade to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Beyond Abortion: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Privacy (Harvard University Press, 2018), the award-winning After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate (Harvard University Press, 2015), which won the Harvard University Press Thomas J. Wilson Prize for best first manuscript in any discipline, Reproduction and the Constitution (Routledge, 2022), and Dollars for Life: The Antiabortion Movement and the Fall of the Republican Establishment (Yale University Press, 2022). Ziegler's latest book, Roe: The History of a National Obsession was published by Yale University Press in January 2023.
About the Book
What explains the insistent pull of Roe v. Wade? Abortion law expert Mary Ziegler argues that the U.S. Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized abortion in 1973 and was overturned in 2022, had a hold on us that was not simply the result of polarized abortion politics. Rather, Roe took on meanings far beyond its original purpose of protecting the privacy of the doctor-patient relationship. It forced us to confront questions about sexual violence, judicial activism and restraint, racial justice, religious liberty, the role of science in politics, and much more.
In this history of what the Supreme Court’s best-known decision has meant, Ziegler identifies the inconsistencies and unsettled issues in our abortion politics. She urges us to rediscover the nuance that has long resided where we would least expect to find it—in the meaning of Roe itself.
Julie Kalish '91
Host: Jennifer Lee '22