The Amendment

by Sue Robinson, New York: Birch Lane Press, 1990, 237 pp., $17.95

The year is 1998, and the Human Life Amendment has been ratified, making abortion illegal throughout the United States and calling for rigid enforcement of the legislation. Its passage was accomplished largely by the emotional and persistent efforts of the Rights for the Unborn League, led by the charismatic first lady, Mary Holt Morgan.

While a ratification celebration is taking place in the New Orleans Superdome, across the Mississippi River abortions are being performed in a makeshift clinic by idealist Michael Green, M.D., and his faithful assistant, Nora O’Brien, R.N. The police botch up a raid, and patient and doctor lose their lives. Is it murder?

Frances Foster, mother of the deceased patient (her lovely only child) is filled with anger and determination. She must avenge her daughter’s death. She gathers together a dedicated group whose goal is to raise money to guarantee women passage and safe abortions outside of the country. Among them are: Nora O’Brien, the registered nurse who survived the police raid and was bailed out of jail by Frances; Elizabeth McKinley, grieving best friend of Frances’ daughter; Adele Pearson, dean of Crofton School, the alma mater of both Frances Foster and First Lady Mary Holt Morgan; and Mary Todd and Helene Du-pre, aged friends of Frances who welcome the opportunity to join in the cause.

They plot to raise $100 million by kidnapping the first lady. Their planning is detailed and daring and a mere step ahead of Jack Riley, special agent of the Rights for the Unborn League. Can meticulous organization and propelling motivation be enough for this inexperienced gang? Can they pull it off?

Somewhat propagandistic, somewhat a suspense drama, somewhat fey, this novel by Sue Robinson has both bite and good humor.

Ruth Schnur is an avid reader who lives in Princeton, NJ.