Letters to the Editor

Teaching and Researching Roe v. Wade

Domenico Camplisson, April 2015

To the Editor:

I still cannot believe that it was in Perspectives that I read “Teaching and Researching Roe v. Wade.” I kept wondering if I had mistaken the vehicle which conveyed this most peculiar article. But no, I have it here in front of me, the January 2015 issue.

In this article about a very controversial subject, I read that those who express a contrary view to the authors’ have “. . . a warped understanding of history.” Their views are regarded as a “threat.” Really? Is there some assumption by the AHA that everyone values the Supreme Court decision which has facilitated over 50 million abortions, with no end in sight? Are those with differing views to be held in contempt?

I further read that the authors, in an attempt to get a perspective on this decision, talked to Planned Parenthood, the Unitarian Universalist Church, the ACLU, and the Coalition of Progressive Religious voices! Is this serious? Are these blatantly pro-abortion groups supposed to have an objective and balanced view? I don’t think so.

I tried this article out on my January critical thinking class, and they thought it was perhaps something I made up to test their ability to spot obvious flaws in the treatment of a topic. Even those who had never studied logic or CT before noted it was one-sided, subjective, biased, and ad hominem.

This was good timing, though. It was renewal time. I could not possibly give any credence or support to any organization which prints this type of article. Please do not send me any more of these magazines. I obviously erred when I thought this organization might be supportive of objective and balanced research.

An opinion piece is fine, but this was titled “Teaching and Researching.” Sorry, but talking to one set of organizations which have but a single view of an issue is not research. I don’t have anything academically in common with anyone who would teach that way, or attempt to bluff their students.

If I want to read one-sided polemic I can do so without a subscription fee.

Domenico Camplisson
San Diego, California


The Authors respond:

We thank Perspectives for the opportunity to respond to Domenico Camplisson’s letter to the editor. We understand that, for many readers of our article, this is a controversial and politically charged issue. We have approached this project from a spirit of inquiry and with an eye toward creating a rich archive of women’s experiences of abortion, both before and subsequent to Roe v. Wade.

Camplisson unfortunately misinterpreted the nature of our project and statements from our article in several places. For example, we have not claimed that the “warped understanding of history” belongs to anyone with a differing viewpoint (and he makes assumptions about what our collective viewpoint is). Instead, we referred specifically to an anti-abortion/anti-contraception organization that flouts historical accuracy. Similarly, at no point did we claim to provide a definitive examination of the Supreme Court ruling; rather, our intention was to record and preserve the experiences of one particular set of historical actors in one specific locality.

Part of why we embarked on this project is precisely because the oral histories of women’s abortion experiences are under-researched. As such, we encourage other scholars to engage in similar projects that explore diverse angles, and we look forward to reading the rigorous scholarship of others.

Nicola Foote, Frances Davey, and Kristine De Welde


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Attribution must provide author name, article title, Perspectives on History, date of publication, and a link to this page. This license applies only to the article, not to text or images used here by permission.

The American Historical Association welcomes comments in the discussion area below, at AHA Communities, and in letters to the editor. Please read our commenting and letters policy before submitting.