In 1975, Dr. Kenneth Edelin was a household name in Boston. The young African-American doctor’s obstetrics residency had been interrupted when a secret grand jury, appointed by Assistant Suffolk County DA Newman Flanagan, indicted him for manslaughter. What Edelin had done, in 1974, was perform a legal abortion. The swamp of medical and legal technicalities that defined the case pointed to his innocence, but, in 1975, an all-white, all-male, mostly Catholic jury convicted him. The Supreme Judicial Court overturned the conviction in ’76, but not before the city had endured a bitter series of racial and religious battles related to the case.
Dr. Edelin, emeritus professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University, has recently published a book about his ordeal, titled Broken Justice. The Phoenix hasn’t yet reviewed the text, but, as the press materials suggest, current threats to Roe v. Wade, make Edelin’s early tussle with the anti-choice right a “cautionary tale” worth re-telling.
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