Carol Sanger Replies to Naomi Cahn and June Carbone
We all know the common practice of thanking those who have made a conference or symposium possible, often uttered at the end of the day amidst the shuffle of papers and scraping of chairs as everyone heads off for wine and cheese. I would like to flip the order and begin rather than end with my heartfelt thanks to Naomi Cahn and June Carbone for organizing this on-line conference/symposium on my newly released book, About Abortion. They have been generous, gracious, patient, and astute in everything connected with this edition of Concurring Opinions. Even before participating in this symposium, I have been indebted to Naomi and June for their own collaborative scholarship, ambitious in scope, inventive in method, and powerful in presentation and substance. Although there is much to choose from, I am thinking particularly of their two books, Red Families/Blue Families: Legal Polarization and the Creation of Culture and Marriage Markets: How Inequality is Remaking the American Family.
Their introduction to the Symposium states that I have attempted to provide the “legal infrastructure for abortion decision-making,” and “a richer foundation for public consideration of the issue [of abortion].” This was exactly what I was after in writing this book. To help dissect, challenge, reframe, and assess the arguments in About Abortion, June and Naomi assembled a phalanx of wonderful reviewers who have approached About Abortion from almost every angle (though no one bit too hard on the images!). For years I have presented drafts of the book’s nine chapters, accepting the proposition that the sooner someone sets you straight or objects to a line of inquiry or says something that sounds wrong but you have to think hard to figure out why, the sooner the manuscript will improve. What I did not realize was that even after the book has an ISBN number and your mother can hold a copy in her hands, there is much to learn about what you wrote: how it is received by readers (rather than how you heard it in your own head); things you missed (despite years in the making); and profitable connections between your own text to doctrines, policies, and viewpoints outside one’s particular ken.
For their careful reading of and willingness to comment on About Abortion, I am deeply grateful to Helen Alvare, Khiara Bridges, David Cohen, Leslie Griffin, Linda McClain, David Pozen, Lisa Pruitt, and Rachel Rebouche. I thank them heartily. My specific responses to each are posted beneath each of their reviews. I look forward to on-going conversations with reviewers and other readers.