A new understanding of the slow drift to extremes in American politics that shows how the anti-abortion movement remade the Republican Party
“A timely and expert guide to one of today’s most hot-button political issues.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Ziegler’s] argument [is] that, over the course of decades, the anti-abortion movement laid the groundwork for an insurgent candidate like Trump.”—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times
The modern Republican Party is the party of conservative Christianity and big business—two things so closely identified with the contemporary GOP that we hardly notice the strangeness of the pairing. Legal historian Mary Ziegler traces how the anti-abortion movement helped to forge and later upend this alliance. Beginning with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Buckley v. Valeo, right-to-lifers fought to gain power in the GOP by changing how campaign spending—and the First Amendment—work. The anti-abortion movement helped to revolutionize the rules of money in U.S. politics and persuaded conservative voters to fixate on the federal courts. Ultimately, the campaign finance landscape that abortion foes created fueled the GOP’s embrace of populism and the rise of Donald Trump. Ziegler offers a surprising new view of the slow drift to extremes in American politics—and explains how it had everything to do with the strange intersection of right-to-life politics and campaign spending.
Mary Ziegler is a professor of law at UC Davis School of Law. She is one of the leading historians of the abortion debate and the author of three prior books on U.S. law and politics, including the award-winning After Roe: The Lost History of the Abortion Debate.
“[Ziegler’s] argument [is] that, over the course of decades, the anti-abortion movement laid the groundwork for an insurgent candidate like Trump. . . . You get the sense that Ziegler could recite this history backward and forward.”—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times
“Full of insightful analysis and revelatory details about the tactics and goals of anti-abortion activists, this is a timely and expert guide to one of today’s most hot-button political issues.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Deeply researched. . . . A sober, knowledgeable scholarly analysis of a timely issue.”—Kirkus Reviews
CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title 2022
“Another tour de force scholarly performance from one of our very best—and nonpartisan!—historians of post-1970 America. Ziegler always takes conservatives seriously, and superior insight is the result.”—David J. Garrow, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Liberty and Sexuality and Bearing the Cross
“As Mary Ziegler shows us in this incisive and important book, anti-abortion activists have shaped the GOP in ways that even they could not have anticipated. Everyone interested in the past and future of American politics should read this book.”—Laura Kalman, University of California, Santa Barbara
“Dollars for Life illuminates a crucial and surprising component of anti-abortion advocacy since Roe: thwarted repeatedly in Congress and the courts, abortion opponents have sought to spend their way to legal and legislative victory. The very activists who have worked to strip constitutional protection for abortion rights have fought to extend constitutional protection for money in politics. Mary Ziegler’s eye-opening analysis reveals the anti-abortion movement’s pivotal role in undermining campaign finance laws and with them, unexpectedly, the Republican party establishment.”—Laura Weinrib, Harvard Law School
“Dollars for Life exposes the largely hidden connection between abortion politics and campaign finance. Meticulously researched and enormously relevant, it will change how both pro-life advocacy and money in politics are understood.”—Andrew R. Lewis, author of The Rights Turn in Conservative Christian Politics