Monday, September 26, 2016

Book Review: Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe v. Wade by Daniel K. Williams [Clinton Wilcox]

Special thanks to Oxford University Press for the free copy to review.

Daniel Williams has done a great service to the pro-life field by researching and compiling this volume regarding the history of the pro-life movement. There are now two books on abortion history that I would suggest grace every pro-life advocate's bookshelves: Dispelling the Myths of Abortion History by Joseph Dellapenna, and now Defenders of the Unborn by Daniel K. Williams.

This book is meticulously researched and sourced. It tells the historical tale of how a movement of pro-life advocates, who were largely Catholic and Democrat, tried to work against the liberalization of abortion laws, which eventually culminated in Roe v. Wade, ending the ultimate safety of unborn children in the womb. It recounts not just how they fought against these bills, but also the progression of their arguments, from making Natural Law arguments, to Constitutional rights-based arguments, to showing abortion victim photography, to arguing that women are victims of the abortion culture. It shows how, even though the movement started as mainly Catholic Democrats, eventually it became a much more diverse movement.

I've been doing work in the abortion field for a long time now, and there's a lot of false information regarding abortion history and the history of the pro-life movement out there. I've heard much of it over and over again. One glaring historical error I hear is that there was no pro-life movement until after Roe v. Wade was passed. Williams shows that it simply isn't the case. There was much pro-life work being done before Roe v. Wade, in order to ensure that unborn human lives were protected.

It's also worth noting that Williams is very even-handed in his approach. He doesn't insult either side; in fact, he uses language that both sides use in the course of writing his book. So even though this book is written by a pro-life person, a pro-abortion-choice person can read this as a history book without getting offended by inflammatory language.

If there is one negative point to this book, it would just be that it's very matter-of-factly written, with a lot of information given to you, so it's pretty dry reading. It's not the kind of book you'd just sit down and finish in one or two sittings. But if you read it through, study it, and take notes, it will greatly benefit you, especially with all the false information regarding abortion history and the history of the pro-life movement is out there.

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