Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Abortion on trial: the pro-life movement and the Edelin manslaughter case, 1973-1975

On February 15, 1975 an all-white, mostly Catholic working-class jury in Boston convicted Kenneth C. Edelin, a black physician, of manslaughter for taking the life of a fetus during a legal abortion he performed in 1973. A political alliance between the local pro-life movement, the Roman Catholic Church, and anti-busing movement in Boston brought about the secret investigation that led to the trial while the testimony of a group of pro-life physicians who made scientific claims concerning the legal personhood of the fetus enabled the jury to convict Edelin. The Edelin manslaughter case and the local politics surrounding abortion in the years immediately after Roe v. Wade are vital for comprehending how the pro-life movement situated itself to become a major political force in the last quarter of the twentieth century.