Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes

by Laurence H. Tribe | Nonfiction |
ISBN: 0393309568 Global Overview for this book
Registered by mojosmom of Chicago, Illinois USA on 5/13/2005
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11 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by mojosmom from Chicago, Illinois USA on Friday, May 13, 2005
There's been a Chit-Chat thread on the subject, some sensible & informed remarks, most ignorant. So when I found this at the Regenstein Library book sale, I thought I'd pick it up (hey, what's 50¢ among friends?) and start a book ray.

Laurence Tribe teaches Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School. The book is a bit dated (this is the 1992 edition), but is still a valuable contribution to understanding the debate.

OH! I just took a look at the Acknowledgements. Tribe thanks several of his then-students, including Barack H. Obama, who is now my U.S. Senator.

Journal Entry 2 by mojosmom from Chicago, Illinois USA on Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I've set the mailing order for the Book Ray:

whokyles (Maryland)
MartiP (South Carolina)
BoosterJ28 (Florida)
Luintaurien (Nebraska)
icekween01 (Missouri)
Piper79 (Indiana)
Chryso (Michigan)
Arwen-Galadriel (Alberta, Canada)
drutt (Scotland)
Hellie (UK)

Please journal when you receive the book, so that everyone can see that it has arrived, and try not to keep it more than 30 days.

Journal Entry 3 by mojosmom at on Thursday, May 19, 2005

Released 14 yrs ago (5/19/2005 UTC) at



Sent to whokyles, to begin the ray.

Journal Entry 4 by whokyles from Silver Spring, Maryland USA on Saturday, June 04, 2005
Sorry, I got this and started reading it. Should have registered it first.

Journal Entry 5 by MartiP on Monday, July 11, 2005
Received in the mail today - I'll get to it as quickly as possible.

Journal Entry 6 by MartiP on Saturday, August 06, 2005
This was not as heavy slogging as I expected it to be, though I will confess to skimming a bit when the descriptions of case details got a little lengthy. I found the historical parts the most interesting - the history of abortion laws, which are actually a fairly new phenomena in this country and others. The author did a good job of examining the strong feelings and, in many cases, hypocrisies inherent in our feelings about abortion. Mostly, he points out the lack of progress inherent in allowing this issue to *always* polarize us on the extremes, spouting simple solutions. It's not simple - it's complicated. Thanks to mojosmom for the ring. I'll be mailing this out to BoosterJ28 today.

Journal Entry 7 by JillyEnFuego from Coconut Creek, Florida USA on Thursday, August 25, 2005
I received this last week, and started it last night.

I always have been, and always will be adamantly Pro-Choice. But I am interested to see how my personal feelings on abortion play into this, as I just found out I am pregnant a couple of weeks ago!

Journal Entry 8 by JillyEnFuego from Coconut Creek, Florida USA on Monday, October 10, 2005
Sorry it took me so long.
One of the weirdest things about pregnancy is how 50% of your brain gets immediately sucked into your uterus and you are not allowed to use it any longer.

Even at 50% capacity, I found the book informative. They did a good job presenting both sides of the argument effectively and impartially. I wasn't swayed from my stance in the slightest, but I have always tried to learn both sides of any situation before I will take a position. It was very informative on legal details, though, which I enjoyed.

Sent off to Luintaurien.

Journal Entry 9 by Luintaurien from York, Nebraska USA on Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Got it today. Thank you. Will read and pass on ASAP.

Journal Entry 10 by Luintaurien from York, Nebraska USA on Thursday, January 26, 2006
Can't seem to get into it so will send it on.

Journal Entry 11 by Luintaurien at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases on Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Released 13 yrs ago (2/7/2006 UTC) at Bookring in Bookring, A Bookring -- Controlled Releases



Journal Entry 12 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Monday, February 13, 2006
I received this one over the weekend. Will journal more when I'm done. Thank you mojosmom for sharing your book.

Peace and happy bookcrossing!

Journal Entry 13 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Saturday, February 25, 2006
from the book:

"The Liberty involved in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy is, in part, the interest in being able to avoid pregnancy without abstaining from sex, the liberty recognized as fundamental in the contraception decisions. But it is much more. Indeed, the right to decide whether to end a pregnancy lies at the very intersection of several liberties that must be deemed fundamental.

Certainly it is a significant restriction of a woman's physical liberty to force her to carry a pregnancy to term. Some have dismissed the burden as a mere inconvenience. Whatever the reason some people take that view, it is not sustainable. Pregnancy entails unique physical invasion and risk. As Chief Justice Rehnquist has observed in another context, any pregnancy entails "profound physical, emotional and psychological consequences"."

Journal Entry 14 by icekween01 from St. Louis, Missouri USA on Sunday, February 26, 2006
Not really sure where I was going with that last journal entry...it was late, I was tired AND it never fails that now that I've read the book, I can't find the passages that I felt were the most compelling...like the one about the violinist...however here are some valid compelling points I did find.


"However voluntary the sex may have been, the woman was, of course, not the sole participant. Yet a ban on abortion imposes truly burdensome duties ONLY on women. Such a ban thus places women, by accident of their biology, in a permanently and irrevocably subordinate position to men."


"It is suspiciously easy to say that women should and must make an enormous sacrifice whenever their sexual activity results in pregnancy, even though men need not.

But even when a man MIGHT logically be called upon to make a roughly similar sacrifice, after his child is born, our laws do not ever compel him to do so. Although the relationship between a parent and a child carries with it more legal obligation than the relationship between two strangers, nowehere do we require a voluntary parent to make, for an already born child, the kind of sacrifice some would have us impose on the pregnant woman in the name of the fetus."


Overall I thought it was an excellent essay on the subject and made very valid points on behalf of a woman's right to choose.

Will be passing on to the next participant on the list.

Thanks again.

Peace and Happy Bookcrossing!

Released 13 yrs ago (2/26/2006 UTC) at -- By post or by hand-ie ring, trade, RABCK, meet in St. Louis, Missouri USA



sent to next in line Piper79

Tons of Thanks!

Happy Bookcrossing!

Journal Entry 16 by Piper79 from Herndon, Virginia USA on Tuesday, March 14, 2006
I picked this up at the post office today. To be read.

Journal Entry 17 by Piper79 from Herndon, Virginia USA on Saturday, April 08, 2006
I am swamped with life right now and trying to find a job in another state as we are moving in a few months. I couldn't get through this one, so I'm passing it on.


Sent to Chryso.

Journal Entry 19 by Chryso from Detroit, Michigan USA on Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Arrived in the mail yesterday--thanks, Piper79! Will read, journal, and pass on asap.

Journal Entry 20 by Chryso from Detroit, Michigan USA on Thursday, May 11, 2006
"Ultimately some may be persuaded that we need not cling so fiercely to one or the other extreme, that there is room for movement toward healing our divisions over the abortion question, based on shared values and goals. If each of us reexamines the complex issues that make up the question of abortion, we may yet find more common ground than we currently imagine."

Common ground, the only place where humane discourse continues and thrives. Thanks for sharing this book, mojosmom!

Sending today to Arwen-Galadriel. Enjoy!

Journal Entry 21 by Arwen-Galadriel from Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Friday, June 09, 2006
Received in the mail today and will start asap. I am just finishing up another bookray book.

Journal Entry 22 by Arwen-Galadriel from Edmonton, Alberta Canada on Thursday, July 13, 2006
Sorry about how long it took me to finish the book, but my life has been up in the air right now. Will pass on to the next participant as soon as I get an address.

I very much enjoyed the book and how it presented both sides to the issue. The arguments made in the book haven't changed my prochoice stance, but I do understand the other side a little better, which I think is always important in such a huge issue as abortion. In the end though I don't think there is necessarily a right or wrong answer when it comes to abortion. I think that in the end everybody has to follow their own conscious and we should support people when they make those decisions. I don't necessarily think that just because abortion is illegal it is going to stop those that want an abortion from getting one or that by making it legal that this is going to cause a rush of women in getting one. But of course this is just one of those issues where there are many shades of gray and no matter what, whether it is legal or not, there are going to be people that are unhappy. Anyways thanks for sharing.

Journal Entry 23 by drutt from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The book's arrived in Scotland and I'll get started on it shortly.

Journal Entry 24 by drutt from Glasgow, Scotland United Kingdom on Sunday, October 15, 2006
I found this book fascinating and thorough and I enjoyed learning about the approach taken by a very different country to my own (sometimes it seems that the English language is all we have in common). Three aspects of the book particularly interested me.

Firstly, the differences between the US and European approaches to abortion rights. In European countries, generally, there is no right to an abortion. Legislation relating to abortion is written in broad terms so it can be interpreted liberally. In Great Britain, for example, 2 doctors have to agree that a woman's mental or physical health is at risk from continuing the pregnancy, and it's relatively easy to obtain this agreement. However, as Tribe rightly points out, placing the decision in the hands of doctors rather than the women themselves patronises and disempowers those women. I used to think this was an acceptable tradeoff, because it helps keep the issue out of the public eye and keep abortion accessible, but now I'm not so convinced.

Secondly, Tribe discusses the thinking behind the belief by some pro-lifers that abortion would be acceptable where the pregnancy was due to rape. He argues that (presuming they believe foetuses are all innocent regardless of the circumstances of their conception) this reveals that the belief that abortion is murder isn't their primary reason for being anti-abortion, or else, logically, they would make no exceptions. Instead, their beliefs are centred around whether the pregnancy resulted from consensual sex. If it did, the woman must therefore live with the consequences of her actions, even if this means carrying a pregnancy to term. Such people are making a moral judgment of women who consent to sex, rather than seeking to preserve life. Having never thought along these lines before, I found this enlightening.

Tribe also discussed how technological advances in the future might affect the abortion issue. It is argued that a woman seeking an abortion wishes to be free of the foetus, not to kill it, but that with current technology, being free of it must also mean killing it. He raises the future possibility where, through artificial wombs or surrogacy, a woman could be freed of an attached foetus but that it could survive. Would she have a right to prevent its survival? Would she have rights over her genetic material? My belief that everyone has a right to bodily autonomy has always been so strong that I've never really wrapped myself in knots over the question of when life begins, but I think such possible technological developments would seriously challenge my beliefs about abortion. Actually, I've got myself wrapped in knots just thinking about it now – and that may well be the closest I'll get to understanding the pro-life point of view. Hmm.

Thank you, mojosmom, for making this bookring available, and to Arwen-Galadriel for sending it on to me. I'm sorry for holding on to it for so long – I was just dipping in and out of it for short periods, and accidentally leaving it at work for a week while I was on leave didn't help either. I sent the book on its way to Hellie yesterday.

Journal Entry 25 by Hellie from South Shields, Tyne and Wear United Kingdom on Monday, October 16, 2006
arrived today...thanks will get to it soon..ironic it arives the day after the christening of friend's 4 month old soon..and hes brother to her 7 year old daughter who was the first of my friends' babies...and hance she's VERY special to me.
Also about 4 others I know have had babies recently.....

Still might make this more interesting if only in terms of controversy!

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