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The Family Roe and the Messy Reality of the Abortion “Jane Roe” Didn’t Get

I almost didn’t read The Family Roe: An American Story by Joshua Prager. When I saw the premise – a biography of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, and her family – I wasn’t immediately sure why I should care. I study the broad-scale social history of reproductive health and I had mostly considered plaintiffs to be incidental to Supreme Court cases, convenient (or as Prager demonstrates, not-so-convenient) examples of a common conflict that needs legal resolution. It was the principle of a case, and the impact of the decision on millions of lives, that mattered, not the specific individuals called to be stand-ins for everywoman.

But as Prager shows, a deep dive into the life of an ordinary person thrust into an extraordinary public matter can be immensely rewarding, humbling, and thought-provoking...

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