Hearing Voices: Non-Party Stories in Abortion and Gay Rights Advocacy

33 Pages Posted: 6 May 2016

See all articles by Linda H. Edwards

Linda H. Edwards

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law

Date Written: 2015

Abstract

During the twelve years after Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court considered a number of abortion issues, but Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists was the first case to raise a direct call for Roe’s demise. The issues galvanized interests on all sides. Among the welter of amicus briefs was a remarkable brief destined to create a new, controversial, and potentially powerful form of appellate advocacy. Primarily authored by Lynn M. Paltrow, the brief was submitted on behalf of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). Like a Brandeis Brief, the NARAL brief relies on sources outside the trial court record. Unlike a Brandeis Brief, however, the NARAL brief does not treat women as the objects of social science research. It does not treat women as “other” — that is, using the distancing third-person pronoun “they.” Instead, living, breathing women, speaking with the first-person pronoun “I,” tell their own abortion stories. Never before had non-parties been able to speak directly to the Court in a proceeding that would profoundly affect their own lives and those of others like them. This is the story of that first “voices” brief, its young author, and its amazing civil rights legacy.

Keywords: Voices brief, amicus brief, Thornburgh v. American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, reproductive rights, LGBT rights

Suggested Citation

Edwards, Linda H., Hearing Voices: Non-Party Stories in Abortion and Gay Rights Advocacy (2015). 2015 Mich. St. L. Rev. 1327; UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2775409

Linda H. Edwards (Contact Author)

University of Nevada, Las Vegas, William S. Boyd School of Law ( email )

4505 South Maryland Parkway
Box 451003
Las Vegas, NV 89154
United States

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