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The Story of Abortion in America: A Street Level History, 1652-2022 (Olasky & Savas)

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Hardcover w/Jacket

Tracing the History of Abortion in America by Looking beyond the Laws to the Dramatic Stories and Colorful Personalities of the People They Touched

Fifty years ago, the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion-on-demand sparked nationwide tensions that continue to this day. In the decades since that ruling, abortion opponents and proponents have descended on the Capitol each year for marches and protests. But this story didn’t begin with the Supreme Court in the 1970s; arguments about abortion have been a part of American history since the 17th century. So how did we get here?

The Story of Abortion in America traces the long cultural history of this pressing issue from 1652 to today, focusing on the street-level activities of those drawn into the battles willingly or unwillingly. Authors Marvin Olasky and Leah Savas show complex lives on both sides: Some sacrificed much to help the poor and others sacrificed the helpless to empower themselves. The Story of Abortion in America argues that whatever happens legally won’t end the debate, but it will affect lives. 

  • A Fair Survey of the History of the Debate: Opening with a foreword by renowned social conservative thinker Robert P. George, this book explores historic cases and key cultural moments from 1652 to 2022
  • Examines 5 Selling Points Used by Each Side in Different Eras: Anatomy, Bible, Community, Danger, and Enforcement
  • Chronicles the History of Abortion through Personal Narratives: Includes the memorable stories of Isaac Hathaway, Susan Warren, Elizabeth Lumbrozo, John McDowell, Hugh Hodge, Madame Restell, Augustus St. Clair, Inez Burns, Robert Dickinson, Sherri Finkbine, Henry Hyde, John Piper, Lila Rose, Terrisa Bukovinac, Mark Lee Dickson, and many others
  • Written for a Diverse Audience: While particularly useful for Christians who want to understand the history of abortion and its impact on American politics and culture, the book speaks to anyone who cares about abortion
Marvin Olasky (PhD, University of Michigan) is a senior fellow of the Discovery Institute and an Acton Institute affiliate scholar. He is the author of twenty-eight books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion and Lament for a Father. From 1983 through 2021 he was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and the editor in chief of WORLD. He and his wife, Susan, have four sons.
Leah Savas reports on abortion for WORLD News Group, where she writes the weekly Vitals roundup and newsletter of pro-life news. Leah lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with her husband, Stephen.

“A riveting story of the history of abortion by two ‘street-level’ researchers who tell us real stories of real people who have sought abortions, provided abortions, and lobbied for change in the abortion laws. Spanning nearly four hundred years of abortion history, Olasky and Savas transport us back in time to help us understand that there has always been abortion among women ‘seduced by men, money, or the religion of self.’ Many of these abortions were coerced, and the chilling narratives of these coercions throughout history are not for the faint of heart. Readers will be moved to tears by the stories, many of them transcribed from published accounts of the very words of the women who have been victims of the abortion industry and those who support it. We meet many of the craven abortion providers on these pages—the infamous Madame Restell, as well as a long list of lesser-known profiteers who have grown rich by ending the lives of unborn children. It is a tragic history, but Olasky and Savas do not leave us bereft of hope.”
Anne Hendershott, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life, Franciscan University

“Under the reign of Roe v. Wade, abortion became ‘normal.’ But it wasn’t always that way in our nation, as this book explains. Now that the Supreme Court has removed its imprimatur from abortion-on-demand for any reason through all nine months of pregnancy, how do we restore respect for the tiniest among us and care for their mothers? Olasky and Savas provide crucial historical context for this effort, and everyone from the newly minted pro-life student to the battle-worn anti-abortion veteran will glean valuable insight from these pages.”
Kristan Hawkins, President, Students for Life Action and Students for Life of America

“What an amazing work! Olasky and Savas have made an important contribution on a topic that is both so controversial and also so essential to the understanding of what America has become and what it will be as a nation in the future. Indeed, this book is a reminder that our nation’s abortion history is linked to its destiny, especially if we seek to offer compassion, hope, and help to those at risk for abortion and their vulnerable unborn children.”
Roland C. Warren, President and CEO, Care Net; author, Raising Sons of Promise: A Guide to Single Mothers of Boys

“Olasky and Savas convey a largely unknown, and as yet unfinished, account of the deep struggle between individual and human rights, worldviews and wickedness. The Story of Abortion in America captures the real and raw nature of the battleground over, and for, the unborn. In these pages you’ll find selfless servants and the profiteering powerful. Just as other great moral issues have stretched and torn the fabric of America, so has abortion. This work should be read by everyone concerned for the soul of America.”
Jor-El Godsey, President, Heartbeat International

The Story of Abortion in America is a tour de force providing a chronicle of the history of abortion that is impeccably documented with near-cinematic realism. The facts are compelling, the human beings—including the unborn—are vividly portrayed, and the interpretations are invariably thoughtful. There is enough in this landmark work to upset easy conclusions about abortion across the full spectrum of opinion. Anyone who wrestles with this topic, as Olasky has done for a lifetime and Savas now follows, must grapple with this account on an issue that will not, and must not, go away.”
Chuck Donovan, President, Charlotte Lozier Institute

“This remarkable and timely book should become the go-to narrative for anyone seeking to understand the tragic history and innumerable human costs of abortion in America. I recommend it enthusiastically.”
Thomas S. Kidd, Research Professor of Church History, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh

“In this book that is more than just a history of abortion in America, Olasky and Savas have amassed an impressive account through real-life stories of how abortion has impacted everyday people over the centuries. The detailed stories were often tragic and heartbreaking and remind us that, truly, it is everyday people who matter most in the abortion debate. It is astonishing to read how much has changed about abortion over the centuries, but also how much really has not. Those who face unplanned pregnancies and those who seek to help them are the ones who write the real life-and-death stories of abortion and are also the ones who can change the world for the better, one life at a time. This captivating book will certainly help cultivate some of that needed change.”
Anne O’Connor, Vice President of Legal Affairs, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates

The Story of Abortion in America is a big story, a momentous story, that extends to the most consequential of human experiences. The story of the past three hundred and seventy years, told here so clearly and deeply sourced, is largely a tragedy; it is up to us to determine what the rest of the story will be.”
Frederica Mathewes-Green, speaker; author, Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion