Here is a selection of recommended books for women looking for information, and for people interested in the topic of abortion. They are in order by publication date. Most books are available in hardback, paperback, and/or Kindle format.
How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump
by Laura Briggs
Non-fiction (U.S.), 288 pages
Publisher: University of California Press, September 12, 2017
Order: University of California Press
Since the early 1980s, neoliberalism—the political work of shrinking the state, shredding the social safety net, and increasing wealth disparities—has transformed our lives in the United States. Looking at families and households—the places where we live our economic situation—How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics argues that the politics of reproduction and reproductive labor—the work we do to keep our selves and families alive—are the arena in which we have fought over neoliberalism’s shocks and disruptions. Debates about welfare reform, immigration, IVF, and gay marriage have produced a particularly racialized airing of these conflicts. Wall Street, Republicans, and neoliberal Democrats could not have effected changes in government and the economy without designating certain households—impoverished, African American, immigrant—as unworthy of public benefits and social support. From long work hours to intensifying inequalities in infant mortality and housing, How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics measures what we have lost and asks what we must do to get it back.
Abortion Pills, Test Tube Babies, and Sex Toys: Emerging Sexual and Reproductive Technologies in the Middle East and North Africa
Editors: L. L. Wynn, Angel M. Foster
Non-fiction (global), 264 pages
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press, July 25, 2017
Order: Vanderbilt University Press
From Viagra to in vitro fertilization, new technologies are rapidly changing the global face of reproductive health. They are far from neutral: religious, cultural, social, and legal contexts condition their global transfer. The way a society interprets and adopts (or rejects) a new technology reveals a great deal about the relationship between bodies and the body politic. Reproductive health technologies are often particularly controversial because of their potential to reconfigure kinship relationships, sexual mores, gender roles, and the way life is conceptualized. This collection of original ethnographic research spans the region from Morocco and Tunisia to Israel and Iran and covers a wide range of technologies, including emergency contraception, medication abortion, gamete donation, hymenoplasty, erectile dysfunction, and gender transformation.
Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century
About Abortion: Terminating Pregnancy in Twenty-First-Century America
by Carol Sanger
Non-fiction (U.S.), 320 pages
Publisher: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard University Press, March 27, 2017
A background of stigma and hostility has stifled women’s willingness to talk about abortion, which in turn distorts public and political discussion. To pry open the silence surrounding this public issue, Sanger distinguishes between abortion privacy, a form of nondisclosure based on a woman’s desire to control personal information, and abortion secrecy, a woman’s defense against the many harms of disclosure.
Laws regulating abortion patients and providers treat abortion not as an acceptable medical decision―let alone a right―but as something disreputable, immoral, and chosen by mistake. Exploiting the emotional power of fetal imagery, laws require women to undergo ultrasound, a practice welcomed in wanted pregnancies but commandeered for use against women with unwanted pregnancies. Sanger takes these prejudicial views of women’s abortion decisions into the twenty-first century by uncovering new connections between abortion law and American culture and politics.
Reproductive Justice: An Introduction (Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century)
by Loretta Ross and Rickie Solinger
Non-fiction (U.S.), 360 pages
Publisher: University of California Press; 1 edition (March 21, 2017)
Reproductive Justice is a first-of-its-kind primer that provides a comprehensive yet succinct description of the field. Written by two legendary scholar-activists, Reproductive Justice introduces students to an intersectional analysis of race, class, and gender politics. Clearly showing how reproductive justice is a political movement of reproductive rights and social justice, the authors illuminate how, for example, a low-income, physically disabled woman living in West Texas with no viable public transportation, healthcare clinic, or living-wage employment opportunities faces a complex web of structural obstacles as she contemplates her sexual and reproductive intentions. Putting the lives and lived experience of women of color at the center of the book and using a human rights analysis, Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger show how the discussion around reproductive justice differs significantly from the pro-choice/anti-abortion debates that have long dominated the headlines and mainstream political conflict. In a period in which women’s reproductive lives are imperiled, Reproductive Justice provides an essential guide to understanding and mobilizing around women’s human rights in the twenty-first century.
May Cause Love: An Unexpected Journey of Enlightenment After Abortion
by Kassi Underwood
Memoir (U.S.), 352 pages
Publisher: HarperOne, Feb 14, 2017
In this powerful memoir, a fiercely honest and surprisingly funny testament to healing after abortion, a young woman travels across the United States to meet a motley crew of spiritual teachers and a caravan of new friends.
At age nineteen, Kassi Underwood discovered she was pregnant. Broke, unwed, struggling with alcohol, and living a thousand miles away from home, she checked into an abortion clinic. While her abortion sparked her “feminist awakening,” she also felt lost and lawless, drinking to oblivion and talking about her pregnancy with her parents, her friends, strangers-anyone.
Three years later, just when she had settled into a sober life at her dream job, the ex-boyfriend with whom she had become pregnant had a baby with someone else. She shattered. In the depths of a blinding depression, Kassi refused to believe that she would “never get over” her abortion. … Dazzling with warmth and leavened by humor, May Cause Love captures one woman’s journey of self-discovery that enraged her, changed her, and ultimately enlightened her.
A Fragmented Landscape: Abortion Governance and Protest Logics in Europe
Edited by Silvia De Zordo, Joanna Mishtal, and Lorena Anton
Non-fiction (Europe), 304 pages
ISBN ebook: 978-1-78533-428-3
Publisher: Berghahn Books, December 2016
Since World War II, abortion policies have remained remarkably varied across European nations, with struggles over abortion rights at the forefront of national politics. This volume analyses European abortion governance and explores how social movements, political groups, and individuals use protests and resistance to influence abortion policy. Drawing on case studies from Italy, Spain, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the European Union, it analyses the strategies and discourses of groups seeking to liberalise or restrict reproductive rights. It also illuminates the ways that reproductive rights politics intersect with demographic anxieties, as well as the rising nationalisms and xenophobia related to austerity policies, mass migration and the recent terrorist attacks in Europe.
All Access: Our Voices: A collection of poems on abortion from New Mexicans
by Multiple authors
Poetry (U.S.), 68 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, November 23, 2016
by Brit Bennett
Fiction (U.S.), 288 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books, Oct 11, 2016
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.
Without Apology: Writings on Abortion in Canada
Edited by Shannon Stettner
Non-fiction (Canada), 355 pages
Publisher: Athabasca University Press, August 2016
ISBN: 9781771991599 (Paperback), 9781771991605 (PDF), 9781771991612 (ePub)
Free download or purchase: Athabasca University Press
Until the late 1960s, the authorities on abortion were for the most part men—politicians, clergy, lawyers, physicians, all of whom had an interest in regulating women’s bodies. Even today, when we hear women speak publicly about abortion, the voices are usually those of the leaders of women’s and abortion rights organizations, women who hold political office, and, on occasion, female physicians. We also hear quite frequently from spokeswomen for anti-abortion groups. Rarely, however, do we hear the voices of ordinary women—women whose lives have been in some way touched by abortion. Their thoughts typically owe more to human circumstance than to ideology, and without them, we run the risk of thinking and talking about the issue of abortion only in the abstract.
Without Apology seeks to address this issue by gathering the voices of activists, feminists, and scholars as well as abortion providers and clinic support staff alongside the stories of women whose experience with abortion is more personal. With the particular aim of moving beyond the polarizing rhetoric that has characterized the issue of abortion and reproductive justice for so long, Without Apology is an engrossing and arresting account that will promote both reflection and discussion.
The Moral Case for Abortion
by Ann Furedi
Non-fiction (England), 165 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan UK, Aug 4, 2016
ISBN: e-book: 978-1-137-41119-8; Hardcover: 978-1-137-41118-1
Order: Palgrave Macmillan
This thought-provoking book sets out the ethical arguments for a woman’s right to choose. Drawing on the traditions of sociological thinking and moral philosophy, it maintains that there is a strong moral case for recognizing autonomy in personal decision-making about reproductive intentions. More than this, it argues that to prevent a woman from making her own choice to continue or end her pregnancy is to undermine the essence of her humanity. The author, a provider of abortion services in the UK, asserts that true respect for human life and true regard for individual conscience demand that we respect a woman’s right to decide, and that support for a woman’s right to a termination has moral foundations and ethical integrity. This fresh perspective on abortion will interest both pro- and anti-choice individuals and organizations, along with academics in the fields of gender studies, philosophy, ethics and religion.
The New States of Abortion Politics
by Joshua Wilson
Non-fiction (U.S.), 128 pages
Publisher: Stanford Briefs, June 8, 2016
The 2014 Supreme Court ruling on McCullen v. Coakley striking down a Massachusetts law regulating anti-abortion activism marked the re-engagement of the Supreme Court in abortion politics. A throwback to the days of clinic-front protests, the decision seemed a means to reinvigorate the old street politics of abortion. The Court’s ruling also highlights the success of a decades’ long effort by anti-abortion activists to transform the very politics of abortion. This book tells the story of this movement, from streets to legislative halls to courtrooms. With the end of clinic-front activism, lawyers and politicians took on the fight. Anti-abortion activists moved away from a doomed frontal assault on Roe v. Wade and adopted an incremental strategy―putting anti-abortion causes on the offensive in friendly state forums and placing reproductive rights advocates on the defense in the courts. The Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016 makes the stakes for abortion politics higher than ever. This book elucidates how―and why.
Fiction (England), paperback, 192 pages
Publisher: Free-hand Books, May 2016
Order: Free-hand Books
Middenrammers is a brave and provocative novel about one doctor’s battle for social justice in Sweport, a small fishing town in England.
It’s 1968. In Paris and Berlin, student protests are resulting in a full-on workers’ revolt. Medical student Brian Davis is at the centre of it all. Meanwhile, in East Yorkshire, folk hero Lillian Bilocca is spearheading a revolution to ensure safer working conditions for fishermen. Sweport local Helena Woods (known to everyone as “Woodie”) is marching along beside her. Two years later, Dr. Brian Davis arrives at Sweport Maternity Hospital as a young doctor, intending to leave his days of protest behind him. But then he meets Woodie, a midwife who has a fire in her belly, an insatiable desire for social justice, and a deep-rooted connection with her community. Dr. Davis and Woodie are faced with hospital administrators who are doing everything in their power to prevent the staff from giving contraceptive advice or abortions. As a doctor and a midwife, the pair comes face-to-face with these destructive policies on a daily basis. In simply trying to do what is right for the patients and the town, they find themselves in the midst of a different kind of revolution.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear
by E.K. Johnston
Fiction (U.S.), 256 pages
Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers, March 15, 2016
Hermione Winters is captain of her cheerleading team, and in tiny Palermo Heights, this doesn’t mean what you think it means. At PHHS, the cheerleaders don’t cheer for the sports teams; they are the sports team—the pride and joy of a small town. The team’s summer training camp is Hermione’s last and marks the beginning of the end of…she’s not sure what. She does know this season could make her a legend. But during a camp party, someone slips something in her drink. And it all goes black.
In every class, there’s a star cheerleader and a pariah pregnant girl. They’re never supposed to be the same person. Hermione struggles to regain the control she’s always had and faces a wrenching decision about how to move on. The rape wasn’t the beginning of Hermione Winter’s story and she’s not going to let it be the end. She won’t be anyone’s cautionary tale.
Facts and fallacies about abortion: health and human rights (Realidades y falacias en torno al aborto: salud y derechos humanos)
By Susan Lerner, Agnès Guillaume, and Lucia Melgar
Non-fiction (Mexico, in Spanish), 422 pages
Publisher: El Colegio de México, Centro de Estudios Demográficos, Urbanos y Ambientales, Institut de recherche pour le Developpement, México (The College of Mexico, Demographic Studies Center, Urban and Environmental)
Published March 2016
ISBN : 978-607-462-938-5
(Translated from Spanish): Since the late 20th century, abortion has been the subject of intense debate in the fields of politics, human rights, and public health. Because it involves sensitive and controversial issues related to the “right to life”, and the dignity, equality, justice, and rights of women to make free and informed decisions on when and whether to be a mother, the debate on abortion and its decriminalization requires more reflection. However, there is often a controversial confluence of ideological, religious, moral, ethical, and legal positions, as well as conflicting political interests. The latter have already imposed restrictive laws that threaten the sexual and reproductive rights of women in contrast to the principles of secular and democratic society.
Following the 2007 adoption of the decriminalization of abortion in Mexico City, and the subsequent activities and advocacy against it, the Supreme Court of Mexico was convened in 2008 for public hearings at which arguments were advanced for and against reform. In order to contribute to a rigorous and informed reflection on this complex issue, this book analyzes these arguments from the perspective of the right to health and human rights, in the context of population policy in Mexico and scientific evidence about the impact of legal frameworks for the health and welfare of women (globally). From this “historic debate”, the authors expose the fallacies that seek to limit sexual and reproductive rights of girls and women, and the impact this issue has had on the actions of politicians, legislators, and health personnel who face the realities of abortion in Mexico.
Abortion Stigma Around the Globe: A Qualitative Synthesis
Resource, 36 pages
Publisher: Ipas, March 2016
Download from: inroads (also available in French and Spanish)
This resource paints a picture of how stigma appears in different geographic regions, and across the different levels of the ecological model. The authors specifically examined peer-reviewed articles that addressed abortion stigma, employed qualitative methods, and reported thematic findings on abortion stigma. They found that stigma, not surprisingly, is socially constructed, culturally and socially embedded and is influenced by social and cultural mores. Without cultural norm transformation, stigma continues to manifest in multiple ways, across a variety of contexts.
Abortion Under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa
Abortion after Roe: Abortion after Legalization
by Johanna Schoen
Non-fiction(U.S.), 52 pages
Publisher: University of North Carolina Press, November 2, 2015
Abortion is, and always has been, an arena for contesting power relations between women and men. When in 1973 the Supreme Court made the procedure legal throughout the United States, it seemed that women were at last able to make decisions about their own bodies. In the four decades that followed, however, abortion became ever more politicized and stigmatized. Abortion after Roe chronicles and analyzes what the new legal status and changing political environment have meant for abortion providers and their patients.
Johanna Schoen sheds light on the little-studied experience of performing and receiving abortion care from the 1970s–a period of optimism–to the rise of the antiabortion movement and the escalation of antiabortion tactics in the 1980s to the 1990s and beyond, when violent attacks on clinics and abortion providers led to a new articulation of abortion care as moral work. As Schoen demonstrates, more than four decades after the legalization of abortion, the abortion provider community has powerfully asserted that abortion care is a moral good.
Not Funny Ha-Ha: a handbook for something hard
by Leah Hayes
Fiction (U.S.), 148 pages
Publisher: Fantagraphics, August 8, 2015
This nonjudgmental, even humorous, graphic work of nonfiction follows two women through the abortion process.
Not Funny Ha-Ha is a bold, slightly wry graphic novel illustrating the lives of two young women from different cultural, family, and financial backgrounds who go through two different abortions (medical and surgical). It follows them through the process of choosing a clinic, reaching out to friends, partners, and/or family, and eventually the procedure(s) itself. It simply shows what happens when a woman goes through it, no questions asked. Despite the fact that so many women and girls have abortions every day, in every city, all around us, it can be a lonely experience. Although the subject matter is heavy, the illustrations are light. The author takes a step back from putting forth any personal opinion whatsoever, simply laying out the events and possible emotional repercussions that could, and often do occur.
Health worker roles in providing safe abortion care and post-abortion contraception
Technical, 81 pages
Publisher: WHO, July 2015
ISBN: 978 92 4 154926 4
Full text download
Planned and regulated task shifting and task sharing can have a range of benefits. It can ensure a rational optimization of the available health workforce, address health system shortages of specialized health-care professionals, improve equity in access to health care and increase the acceptability of health services for those receiving them. This guideline provides a range of options for expanding of health worker roles in the provision of safe abortion care, the management of complications of abortion (also known as post-abortion care in some settings and provided as part of emergency obstetric care) and for post-abortion contraception provision.
by Katie Pierson
Fiction (U.S.), 264 pages
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing, June 8, 2015
From Salon.com: Set in 1989, this teen romance finds protagonist Quinn discovering she’s pregnant about halfway through the book, despite having used condoms with her ex-boyfriend, Jason. She’s also already started dating a new guy, Seth, whom she does tell, along with her best friend and her mother, who’s disappointed but firmly supportive; she opts to not tell her father. Her mother drives her to the clinic, where Seth helps them navigate the protesters trying to block their way. Quinn meets with an abortion counselor who prescribes her the pill, even though having sex again is the last thing on Quinn’s mind.
Pierson gives us a heroine who doesn’t berate herself for having gotten pregnant, comes to terms with having judged other girls for doing so, and lets the burgeoning sexual tension between Quinn and Seth unfold at a slower pace than it would have otherwise, since Quinn is understandably hesitant about having sex again. While her abortion certainly affects her, especially her political views, which contrast with her father’s around the issue, aside from her holding off on sex with Seth, she quickly becomes swept up in other dramas that are far more pressing.
Unsafe Abortion and Women’s Health: Change and Liberalization
Non-fiction, 238 pages
Publisher: Ashgate, May 2015
Unsafe abortion remains one of the most neglected sexual and reproductive health problems according to the World Health Organisation. In recent years it has been estimated that nearly 44 million abortions occur annually leading to around 47,000 deaths. At this rate a woman will die of an unsafe abortion every 11 minutes. Bringing together a wealth of information from around the world, this book argues that the time has come for a great change in legislation, advocating a shift towards the legalization of abortion to improve the health of women in poorer countries. With attention to circumstances in each of the major continental regions, an outline of the global situation is provided to reveal the major trends in the provision and procurement of abortion, as well their effects. The book presents data drawn from over a hundred countries covering over ninety per cent of the world’s population, based on published statistical information, changes to legal frameworks, court cases and the accounts of local commentators and activists.
Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism
Non-fiction (U.S.), 336 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press, April 13 2015
Abortion is a legal, common, and safe medical procedure that one in three American women will undergo. Yet ever since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion forces have tried nearly every tactic to eliminate it. Legislative and judicial developments dominate the news, but a troubling and all-too-common phenomenon – targeted vigilante action against individual abortion providers – is missing from the national discussion, only cropping up when a dramatic story like the murder of an abortion provider pushes it to the forefront. Every day, men and women who are associated with abortion care are harassed, threatened, stalked, picketed, sent hate mail, and otherwise terrorized.
In Living in the Crosshairs, the voices of these providers are heard for the first time, through extensive interviews that David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon conducted across the country. Drawing on ideas from the interviews, the authors propose several legal and societal reforms that could improve the lives of providers, foremost among them redefining targeted harassment as terrorism rather than protest. Living in the Crosshairs is a rich and humane portrait of women’s health professionals who persist in their work despite harassment, because they believe in what they are doing.
Exploring Your Unplanned Pregnancy: Single Motherhood, Adoption, and Abortion Questions and Resources
Resource (U.S.), 122 pages
Publisher: Cairde, Karuna & Hedd Publishing, LLC, March 7, 2015
Written by a psychiatrist, this book discusses 78 reliable resources and asks essential questions about single motherhood, adoption, and abortion to help you carefully think through your decisions about your unplanned pregnancy. You could use its balanced, factual information and comprehensive questions to start a conversation with parents or partner, then link directly to the resources to help you pursue the decision that is best for you.The single motherhood resources discuss such things as calculating costs, lists of how-to books, support-groups, money management, government programs, and housing options.The adoption resources address adoption law, types of adoption, adoption agencies, how to establish a continuing relationship with the adoption family and adopted child, and so on.The abortion resources talk about contraception, gestational age, medical abortion, each surgical abortion type, abortion law, finding providers, funding, talk-lines, and the ACOG’s FAQ site. More information is available on the book’s website.
Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies
Law/Non-fiction, 480 pages
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014
Order: University of Pennsylvania Press
It is increasingly implausible to speak of a purely domestic abortion law, as the legal debates around the world draw on precedents and influences of different national and regional contexts. While the United States and Western Europe may have been the vanguard of abortion law reform in the latter half of the twentieth century, Central and South America are proving to be laboratories of thought and innovation in the twenty-first century, as are particular countries in Africa and Asia. Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective offers a fresh look at significant transnational legal developments in recent years, examining key judicial decisions, constitutional texts, and regulatory reforms of abortion law in order to envision ways ahead.
The chapters investigate issues of access, rights, and justice, as well as social constructions of women, sexuality, and pregnancy, through different legal procedures and regimes. They address the promises and risks of using legal procedure to achieve reproductive justice from different national, regional, and international vantage points; how public and courtroom debates are framed within medical, religious, and human rights arguments; the meaning of different narratives that recur in abortion litigation and language; and how respect for women and prenatal life is expressed in various legal regimes.
Clinical practice handbook for safe abortion
Clinical, 64 pages
Publisher: WHO, 2014
Languages: English, Spanish
ISBN: 978 92 4 154871 7
Order: WHO website
This handy reference should be useful to a range of providers in different settings and varying legal and health service contexts, though it is oriented to providers who already have the requisite skills and training necessary to provide safe abortion and/or treat complications of unsafe abortion.
Every Third Woman in America: How Legal Abortion Transformed Our Nation
Non-fiction (U.S.), 446 pages
Publisher: Daymark Publishing, Dec 16 2014
This book tells the forgotten story of the transition from the back alley to safe care after Roe v. Wade was enacted in 1973. The legalization of abortion resulted in prompt and dramatic health improvements for women, children, and families, but an entire generation of Americans has grown up unaware of the harsh and unnecessary tragedies of back-alley abortions. Current attacks on safe, legal abortion at the state level are designed to return women to those desperate, dangerous days before abortion was legalized. One of the world’s leading abortion scholars, Dr. Grimes chronicles the public-health story of legal abortion in America and the harms women face at the mercy of state laws restricting access to care. He shares the stories of his patients seeking abortion and how they and their families benefited. The book also refutes anti-choice myths about abortion with a wealth of scientific evidence.
Novel, 192 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company, Aug 12, 2014
Nancy Mullion, an obstetrician-gynecologist whose botched surgery has put a patient in a life-threatening coma, must face a medical tribunal to determine if she can continue to practice medicine. Nancy’s fears about both her patient’s chances for survival and whether she will be “undoctored” are made palpable to the reader. Throughout four weeks of intense questioning and accusations, this physician directly confronts for the first time her work as an abortion provider–how it helps the lives of others but takes a heavy toll on her own.
Interweaving memories of Nancy’s English and American childhood and adolescence, Dirty Work creates an emotionally charged portrait of one woman’s life; the telling of seemingly untellable stories sets her free, as it can all women. Gabriel Weston has given us a truly original, courageous, and meaningful novel.
Abortion in the American Imagination: Before Life and Choice, 1880-1940
by Karen Weingarten
Non-fiction (U.S.), 204 pages
Publisher: Rutgers University Press, July 11, 2014
Abortion in the American Imagination returns to the moment when American writers first dared to broach the controversial subject of abortion. What was once a topic avoided by polite society, only discussed in vague euphemisms behind closed doors, suddenly became open to vigorous public debate as it was represented everywhere from sensationalistic melodramas to treatises on social reform. Literary scholar and cultural historian Karen Weingarten shows how these discussions were remarkably fluid and far-ranging, touching upon issues of eugenics, economics, race, and gender roles.
Weingarten traces the discourses on abortion across a wide array of media, putting fiction by canonical writers like William Faulkner, Edith Wharton, and Langston Hughes into conversation with the era’s films, newspaper articles, and activist rhetoric. By doing so, she exposes not only the ways that public perceptions of abortion changed over the course of the twentieth century, but also the ways in which these abortion debates shaped our very sense of what it means to be an American.
“Pro-Life” is Pro-LIE: They don’t care that women DIE
by William West, MD
Non-fiction (U.S.), 394 pages, Kindle
Publisher: Self-published, July 6, 2014
From Dr. West (Amazon.com): This book contains mature subject matter that might be disturbing to some and is for mature readers only. Reader discretion is advised. By that I mean that this is a book about the truth of factual reality that far too many people just can’t handle – or won’t. It is my hope that anyone who begins reading this book will read it completely and with honest and serious reflection upon its content.
I am a psychiatrist, and obstetrician-gynecologist, and an abortion provider (now outlawed by Republican malfeasance in Texas government). This is a book of thoughts on the current Republican Party, the very real Republican War on Women, the misnamed “pro-life” movement, the Tea Party, extreme religion, un-American theocrats among us, and sanctimonious home-grown terrorist bigots and bullies who are quite reasonably referred to as the American “Christian Taliban.” It is about the health and safety of women and teenage girls vs. the appallingly cruel and willful insanity of the extremes of all religions and the unconscionable cruelty of the so-called “pro-life” movement and other related sociopolitical forces using extreme religious belief as license to discriminate against women and teenage girls and the religious beliefs of those women and girls – among some of the many other severe threats posed by pervasive disorders of thought established and reinforced by extreme religious belief that are responsible for ever-deepening catastrophe in this state, this nation, and around the world.
Rough on Women: Abortion in 19th Century New Zealand
Rough on Women is, in some respects, the prequel to Abortion Then and Now: New Zealand abortion stories from 1940 to 1980, in which women recorded their firsthand experiences of abortion.
In contrast to the intimacy and frankness of that book, the women in Rough on Women are all long dead and little is known of their inner lives. Most of what we know about them comes from coroners’ reports and newspaper accounts, and in many cases we know more about their abortionists than the women themselves.
Rough on Women shows the lengths to which women will go to avoid bearing an unwanted child, and how far New Zealand has come in the battle for women to control their own fertility.
One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories
Abortion Stories (Canada), 84 pages
Publisher: Three O’clock Press, June 30, 2014
One Kind Word: Women Share Their Abortion Stories is a groundbreaking collection that helps to end the silence surrounding abortion experiences and to combat the feelings of fear, shame, stigma, and isolation that many women face. By featuring over thirty women’s personal experiences and portraits, One Kind Word shifts the focus of the abortion debate towards creating a more open, honest, and compassionate dialogue about reproductive freedom in Canada. The stories and portraits in One Kind Word remind us that women who have had abortions come from all backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures, and ages. Women who have had abortions are our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, lovers, friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers, and politicians.
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
Non-fiction (U.S.), 272 pages
Publisher: Picador, Oct. 14 2014
Order from: Amazon.com
A powerful argument for abortion as a moral right and social good by a noted feminist and longtime columnist for The Nation
Forty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, “abortion” is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who support a woman’s right to an abortion often qualify their support by saying abortion is a “bad thing,” an “agonizing decision,” making the medical procedure so remote and radioactive that it takes it out of the world of the everyday, turning an act that is normal and necessary into something shameful and secretive. Meanwhile, with each passing day, the rights upheld by the Supreme Court are being systematically eroded by state laws designed to end abortion outright.
In this urgent, controversial book, Katha Pollitt reframes abortion as a common part of a woman’s reproductive life, one that should be accepted as a moral right with positive social implications. In Pro, Pollitt takes on the personhood argument, reaffirms the priority of a woman’s life and health, and discusses why terminating a pregnancy can be a force for good for women, families, and society. It is time, Pollitt argues, that we reclaim the lives and the rights of women and mothers.
The Recovery Room
by Ann Ormsby
Fiction (U.S.), 448 pages
Publisher: Great South Bay Press, Dec 15, 2013
There’s a storm brewing in the quiet town of Litchfield. A whirlwind of media attention, political debate, and anger is about to sweep through and hold the fate of three women captive.
In the eye of the storm are sixteen-year-old Clara Mahoney, a lonesome girl living in a family strained by autism; Pia Fernandez, a battered wife who wants only to escape her abusive husband; and, Loren Elliot, a forty-three-year-old who can barely make ends meet with two kids in college and a husband who just lost his job.
Though these women are very different, they have a great deal in common. They are each unexpectedly pregnant, scared, and in positions where they cannot devote themselves to a child. And, they all have appointments at the same abortion clinic in Litchfield.
But getting there won’t be easy. Anti-choice forces—headed by a vain socialite and a self-indulgent priest—are mounting a demonstration against the clinic. Can these desperate women brave the chaos? Or will they let the public dictate their private decisions?
by Abigail Barnette
Fiction (U.S.), 392 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Oct 19, 2013
From Salon.com: Barnette is the pen name for author and blogger Jenny Trout. This is the second in “The Boss” series, which finds 24-year-old protagonist Sophie Scaife pregnant and estranged from her billionaire boyfriend, Neil, who’s twice her age (yes, he’s a billionaire; no, he’s not as robotic as Christian Grey). At the end of the previous novel, “The Boss,” Sophie makes it clear that she doesn’t want to be pregnant, and adoption isn’t right for her. “The Girlfriend” opens with Sophie having already scheduled her abortion appointment on her own. When she does tell Neil, even though he isn’t as resolute in wanting to end the pregnancy, he is fully supportive, joining her at her appointment and supporting her every step of the way.
The Street Politics of Abortion: Speech, Violence, and America’s Culture Wars
by Joshua C. Wilson
Non-fiction (U.S.), 258 pages
Publisher: Stanford Law Books, September 4, 2013
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade stands as a historic victory for abortion-rights activists. But rather than serving as the coda to what had been a comparatively low-profile social conflict, the decision mobilized a wave of anti-abortion protests and ignited a heated struggle that continues to this day. Picking up the story in the contentious decades that followed Roe, The Street Politics of Abortion is the first book to consider the rise and fall of clinic-front protests through the 1980s and 1990s, the most visible and contentious period in U.S. reproductive politics. Joshua Wilson considers how street level protests lead to three seminal Court decisions―Planned Parenthood v. Williams, Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western N.Y., and Hill v. Colorado.
The eventual demise of street protests via these cases taught anti-abortion activists the value of incremental institutional strategies that could produce concrete policy gains without drawing the public’s attention. Activists on both sides ultimately moved―often literally―from the streets to fight in state legislative halls and courtrooms. Wilson demonstrates how the abortion-rights movement, despite its initial success with Roe, has since faced continuous challenges and difficulties, while the anti-abortion movement continues to gain strength in spite of its losses.
Fighting to Choose: The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand
Fighting to Choose chronicles one of the most important yet neglected chapters in New Zealand’s recent political history. More than thirty-five years ago, at the height of the second wave of feminism, New Zealand passed a conservative abortion law that bucked a trend in the West toward liberalisation. How did this happen in a country proud of its progressive social policies – particularly its record on women’s rights? And why is such a cumbersome, expensive, endlessly litigated set of statutes still on the books? In Fighting to Choose: The Abortion Rights Struggle in New Zealand, Alison McCulloch sets out to answer those questions by taking a close look at the people involved and the tactics they employed in waging what was – and continues to be – an intense and impassioned battle.
My Notorious Life by Madame X
Novel, 449 pages
Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition, Sept 10, 2013
A brilliant rendering of a scandalous historical figure, Kate Manning’s My Notorious Life is an ambitious, thrilling novel introducing Axie Muldoon, a fiery heroine for the ages. Axie’s story begins on the streets of 1860s New York. The impoverished child of Irish immigrants, she grows up to become one of the wealthiest and most controversial women of her day. In vivid prose, Axie recounts how she is forcibly separated from her mother and siblings, apprenticed to a doctor, and how she and her husband parlay the sale of a few bottles of “Lunar Tablets for Female Complaint” into a thriving midwifery business. Flouting convention and defying the law in the name of women’s reproductive rights, Axie rises from grim tenement rooms to the splendor of a mansion on Fifth Avenue, amassing wealth while learning over and over never to trust a man who says “trust me.”
When her services attract outraged headlines, Axie finds herself on a collision course with a crusading official—Anthony Comstock, founder of the Society for the Suppression of Vice. It will take all of Axie’s cunning and power to outwit him in the fight to preserve her freedom and everything she holds dear. Inspired by the true history of an infamous female physician who was once called “the Wickedest Woman in New York,” My Notorious Life is a mystery, a family saga, a love story, and an exquisitely detailed portrait of nineteenth-century America.
Unplanned Choices is a coming-of-age historical romantic drama, set in the late 1960s and early 1970s in New York City and Long Island during the turbulent period of the Vietnam War,the sexual revolution, the women’s movement, the civil rights struggle, and the quest for legalizing abortion. The novel is the story of Steve Lynch and his first love, Anna Marino. Both Anna and Steve are raised in the Roman Catholic faith and struggle with the church’s prohibition of sexual activity and their growing sexual drives. They both meet in college after abandoning the church. Anna became pregnant and died during an abortion, before abortion on demand became legal in New York. The novel describes the impact of the abortion on Steve, the abortionist, Anna’s family and friends, and one NYPD investigator who committed murder. If Anna could have legally had an abortion, she would not have died and the impact on the other characters in the novel would not have been as tragic. Situations similar to that portrayed in Unplanned Choices, could be replicated hundreds of thousands of times in the future if abortion becomes illegal or is severely restricted in the United States.
Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care: Philosophy and Practice
Textbook, 230 pages
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers; 1 edition, March 22, 2012
In today’s contentious political environment surrounding abortion, clinicians, counselors and social workers need a clear framework for providing skilled, compassionate decision counseling. They need help working with the hard stuff: “What do I do when my patient asks me if God will forgive her?” or “What do I say when a woman says that she feels like she’s killing her baby?” These are the questions asked by clinicians and mental health professionals everywhere; these are also the questions for which this book offers answers. The fields of healthcare and counseling psychology have long-awaited a manual for conducting pregnancy decision counseling across the spectrum of patient issues, employee skill levels, and clinic resources.
Using case examples, individual and group exercises, guided self-reflection, and values clarification, the reader will develop the necessary skills to provide compassionate and informed pregnancy decision counseling. This book will define the gold standard for decision assessment and counseling for all pregnancy options and will be cited as the definitive guide for learning, teaching, and providing high-quality, compassionate counseling in abortion and family planning clinics nationwide.
Safe Abortion: Technical and Policy Guidance for Health Systems
Technical/Clinical, 132 pages
Publication date: 2012 (2nd edition)
Languages: English, French, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian
ISBN: 978 92 4 154843 4
Full text download
Since first publication of this guidance in 2003, a considerable amount of new data have been produced and published, relating to epidemiological, clinical, service delivery, legal and human rights aspects of providing safe abortion care. This new edition provides policy-makers, programme managers and health-service providers with the latest evidence-based guidance on clinical care. It includes information on how to establish and strengthen services, and outlines a human-rights-based approach to laws and policies on safe, comprehensive abortion care.
When She Woke
Novel, 352 pages
Publisher: Harper Perennial, Oct. 16 2012
In the mid-21st century, a young woman in Texas awakens to a nightmare: her skin has been genetically altered, turned bright red as punishment for the crime of having an abortion. A powerful reimagining of The Scarlet Letter, When She Woke is a timely fable about a stigmatized woman struggling to navigate an America of the not-too-distant future, where the line between church and state has been eradicated, and convicted felons are no longer imprisoned and rehabilitated but “chromed” and released back into the population to survive as best they can. In seeking a path northward to safety, through an alien and hostile world, Hannah unknowingly embarks on a journey of self-discovery that forces her to question the values she once held true and the righteousness of a country that politicizes faith and love.
Dangerous Pregnancies: Mothers, Disabilities, and Abortion in Modern America
by Leslie J. Reagan
Non-fiction (U.S.), 392 pages
Publisher: University of California Press, July 2012
Order: University of California Press
Dangerous Pregnancies tells the largely forgotten story of the German measles epidemic of the early 1960s and how it created national anxiety about dying, disabled, and “dangerous” babies. This epidemic would ultimately transform abortion politics, produce new science, and help build two of the most enduring social movements of the late twentieth century–the reproductive rights and the disability rights movements. At most a minor rash and fever for women, German measles (also known as rubella), if contracted during pregnancy, could result in miscarriages, infant deaths, and serious birth defects in the newborn. Award-winning writer Leslie J. Reagan chronicles for the first time the discoveries and dilemmas of this disease in a book full of intimate stories–including riveting courtroom testimony, secret investigations of women and doctors for abortion, and startling media portraits of children with disabilities. In exploring a disease that changed America, Dangerous Pregnancies powerfully illuminates social movements that still shape individual lives, pregnancy, medicine, law, and politics.
Every Little Thing in the World
by Nina de Gramont
Fiction (U.S.), 288 pages
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; April 26, 2011
Sixteen-year-old Sydney Biggs is a “good kid.” Smart, pretty, self-aware. No one doubts that she’ll go far in life. But, lately her mother worries that Sydney is wandering down the wrong path and getting all caught up in petty teenage rebellion and shenanigans. When Sydney and her best friend Natalia “borrow” a car to go to a party and then get escorted home by the police, their parents pack them up and ship them off to a hard-love wilderness camp—to stop this behavior before it gets out of hand, before things go too far. The problem is, they already have. Sydney—the “good kid”—is pregnant. In the wilds of Canada, where the girls are to spend the next four weeks canoeing, camping and foraging for food, time is ticking, because Sydney isn’t sure what she wants to do about her pregnancy. And she certainly isn’t expecting the other heady issues that will confront her as she forges friendships with her adventure-mates, including a guy who makes it no secret that he is a major thug and a teen television heartthrob with a secret of his own, not to mention her own best friend – who is very adamant about what Sydney should do.
Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The costs of fanaticism to doctors, patients, and the rest of us
Non-fiction (U.S.), 196 pages
Publisher: Beacon Press, Jan 4, 2011
Surprising firsthand accounts from the front lines of abortion provision in America reveal the persistent cultural, political, and economic hurdles to access: More than thirty-five years after women won the right to legal abortion, most people do not realize how inaccessible it has become. In these pages, reproductive-health researcher Carole Joffe shows how a pervasive stigma—cultivated by the religious right—operates to maintain barriers to access by shaming women and marginalizing abortion providers. Through compelling testimony from doctors, health-care workers, and patients, Joffe reports the lived experiences behind the polemics, while also offering hope for a more compassionate standard of women’s health care.
Abortion Then & Now: New Zealand abortion stories from 1940 to 1980
Non-fiction/Abortion stories (New Zealand), 304 pages
Publisher: Victoria University Press, 2010, reprinted Oct 2012
From clandestine abortions in the 1940s to the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s, this comprehensive reference provides a well-rounded review of the legal, medical, and emotional facets of abortions then and now. At the heart of this groundbreaking book are deeply moving personal stories—which encompass suffering and resilience, isolation and community—from women who have experienced an abortion. These accounts are supplemented with the voices of doctors, police, and advocates committed to addressing and improving issues in women’s reproductive health.
Our Bodies, Our Crimes: The Policing of Women’s Reproduction in America
by Jeanne Flavin
Non-fiction (U.S.), 288 pages
Publisher: NYU Press, March 1, 2010
The intense policing of women’s reproductive capacity places women’s health and human rights in great peril. Poor women are pressured to undergo sterilization. Women addicted to illicit drugs risk arrest for carrying their pregnancies to term. Courts, child welfare, and law enforcement agencies fail to recognize the efforts of battered and incarcerated women to care for their children. Pregnant inmates are subject to inhumane practices such as shackling during labor and poor prenatal care. And decades after Roe, the criminalization of certain procedures and regulation of abortion providers still obstruct women’s access to safe and private abortions.
In this important work, Jeanne Flavin looks beyond abortion to document how the law and the criminal justice system police women’s rights to conceive, to be pregnant, and to raise their children. Through vivid and disturbing case studies, Flavin shows how the state seeks to establish what a “good woman” and “fit mother” should look like and whose reproduction is valued. With a stirring conclusion that calls for broad-based measures that strengthen women’s economic position , choice-making, autonomy, sexual freedom, and health care, Our Bodies, Our Crimes is a battle cry for all women in their fight to be fully recognized as human beings. At its heart, this book is about the right of a woman to be a healthy and valued member of society independent of how or whether she reproduces.
The Blue Orchard
Novel, 416 pages
Publisher: Touchstone; 1st edition, Jan 12, 2010
From Booklist: Inspired by the true events of his grandmother’s life and based on interviews with key figures involved with its more shocking aspects, Taylor’s fictionalization of the life of Verna Krone chronicles the explosive decades from the Depression to the dawn of the Civil Rights era [in America], as experienced by one courageous young woman. Forced by her family’s dire poverty into a life of domestic servitude, Verna is endowed with stalwart ambition, a drive that will eventually place her in nursing school and bring her to the employ of Dr. Crampton, a black physician providing illegal but safe abortion services to hundreds of compromised young women. Crampton and Krone are eventually arrested for their activities, victims of the political, moral, and racial prejudices of the era. While awaiting trial, Verna is motivated to take stock of her professional and personal triumphs and losses. Though burdened by a dispassionate, tell-don’t-show narrative style, Taylor nonetheless limns a sweeping representation of the most pivotal events of the past century. — Carol Haggas
The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World
Non-fiction (U.S.), 272 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books; 2009
Award-winning journalist Michelle Goldberg shows how the emancipation of women has become the key human rights struggle of the twenty-first century in The Means of Reproduction. Deeply reported across four continents, the book explores issues such as abortion, female circumcision, and Asia’s missing girls to dramatize the connections between international policymaking and individual lives. Goldberg demonstrates how women’s rights are key to addressing both overpopulation and rapid population decline, reducing world poverty, and retarding the spread of AIDS. Sweeping and ambitious, this is a must-read book for feminists, health and policy workers, and anyone concerned about the future of our world.
The Racket: How Abortion Became Legal in Australia
Non-fiction/History (Australia), 288 pages
Publisher: Melbourne University Publishing, April 1, 2009
Chronicling the rise and fall of an extraordinary web of influence, this account documents the events that culminated in the landmark ruling that made abortion legal in Australia and caused a public inquiry that humiliated a powerful government and glamorous police force. With forensic skill and psychological subtlety, this is a story of corruption, suffering, murder, suicide, courtroom drama, and political machinations. Artfully combining cultural history, investigative journalism, and true crime, this analysis examines the full spectrum of people involved, from the women themselves to the lawmakers, police, campaigners, and abortionists—who included a multimillionaire philanthropist, a communist bush poet, a timid aesthete, and a bankrupt slaughterman. A fascinating and disturbing backstory to an issue that remains ever divisive, this compelling narrative is an important contribution to the ongoing abortion debate.
This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor
Abortion & Life
by Jennifer Baumgartner
Non-fiction (U.S.), 250 pages
Publisher: Akashic Books, September 1, 2008
Publisher’s Weekly review: Activist, filmmaker (of I Had an Abortion) and co-author (Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future) Baumgardner dedicates her work to spreading awareness about abortion. Graced with black and white photo portraits by Tara Todras-Whitehill of women wearing Baumgardner’s shirt, reading simply “I had an abortion,” the emphasis is on the testimony of these patients, revealing not only how common the procedure is (one in three women, according to the Guttmacher Institute) but how diverse those women and their situations are. Baumgardner begins with a brief history of abortion legislation in America, from pre-Roe v. Wade restrictions to clinic workers and doctors protested, threatened and murdered (as in the case of Buffalo doctor Barnett Slepian). Still, as Baumgardner says, it’s the record of “our lives [that] might provide the best road map to strengthening women’s reproductive freedoms.”
Contraception: A History
Non-fiction, 288 pages
Publisher: Polity; 1st edition, May 12, 2008
Birth control is not an invention of modern times, nor is it a purely personal matter. By the same token, mighty institutions such as church and state have exerted their influence as effectively as that of doctors, population theorists, and the early pioneers of the feminist movement; all of these claim a special expertise in matters of ethics and morality, and so shape the discourse on birth control.
The focal point of this engaging book by renowned historian, Robert Jütte, is the Europe of modern times. It also takes in its scope various cultural groups elsewhere in America, China, India and the near East, and world religions such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Demographic and political aspects of population studies are explored from the early middle ages to the present, as well as the population theories of Malthus. Jütte explains how our antecedents dealt with such things and how today’s technologies, the condom and coil for example, and our moral perceptions have evolved. In addition to the contraceptives we know and use today, Jütte considers other contraceptive practices as diverse as the persecution of witches, the castration of young boys to preserve their voices, the habits of prostitutes and their varied clients and the use of herbs and very peculiar talismans. This comprehensive survey of one of the oldest and most urgent problems of mankind builds up a rich picture of how, over the centuries, all manner of men and women, together and separately, have battled with the needs both for sexual gratification and for limitation of offspring, and also looks beyond to how contraception might evolve in the future.
Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN
Memoir (U.S.), 344 pages
Publisher: AuthorHouse, May 22, 2008
From Bruce Steir: I wrote this memoir- “Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN” while serving time. It explains the events that led to my being charged with homicide as it explores the collaboration between the anti-abortion network, the Medical Board and the District Attorney’s office. My memoir consists of anecdotal experiences that motivated me to study medicine, encouraged me to become an OB/GYN physician and compelled me to be a full-time abortion provider. The autobiographical adventures travel from college and medical school in Florida to my sleepless internship in New Orleans, through my OB/GYN residency training. It continues with my service in the USAF in France as a medical officer; to Seattle in private practice; then again in the direction of military service as an OB/GYN attached to the Marine Corps and finally as a traveling abortion provider and eventually a convicted felon doing time. My experiences have filled my life with inspiration, love, humor, sadness, joy and much irony. (My memoir does not contain any fiction!)
The Moral Property of Women: A History of Birth Control Politics in America
Non-fiction (U.S.), 464 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press, March 12, 2007
The only book to cover the entire history of birth control and the intense controversies about reproduction rights that have raged in the United States for more than 150 years, The Moral Property of Women is a thoroughly updated and revised version of the award-winning historian Linda Gordon’s classic history Woman’s Body, Woman’s Right, originally published in 1976. Arguing that reproduction control has always been central to women’s status, The Moral Property of Women shows how opposition to it has long been part of the conservative opposition to gender equality. From its roots in folk medicine and in a campaign so broad it constituted a grassroots social movement at some points in history, to its legitimization through public policy, the widespread acceptance of birth control has involved a major reorientation of sexual values.
Gordon puts today’s reproduction control controversies–foreign aid for family planning, the abortion debates, teenage pregnancy and childbearing, stem-cell research–into historical perspective and shows how the campaign to legalize abortion is part of a 150-year-old struggle over reproductive rights.
Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America
by Rickie Solinger
Non-fiction (U.S.), 312 pages
Publisher: NYU Press, March 1, 2007
A sweeping chronicle of women’s battles for reproductive freedom throughout American history, Pregnancy and Power explores the many forces—social, racial, economic, and political—that have shaped women’s reproductive lives in the United States.
Leading historian Rickie Solinger argues that a woman’s control over her body involves much more than the right to choose an abortion. Reproductive politics were at play when slaveholders devised breeding schemes, when the U.S. government took Indian children from their families in the nineteenth century, and when doctors pressed Latina women to be sterilized in the 1970s. Tracing the diverse plot lines of women’s reproductive lives throughout American history, Solinger redefines the idea of reproductive freedom, putting race and class at the center of the effort to control sex and pregnancy in America over time.
Pregnancy and Power shows that a complete understanding of reproductive politics must take into account the many players shaping public policy—lawmakers, educators, employers, clergy, physicians—as well as the consequences for women who obey and resist these policies. Tracing the diverse plotlines of women’s reproductive lives throughout American history, Solinger redefines the idea of reproductive freedom, putting race and class at the center of the struggle to control sex and pregnancy in America.
Opposition and Intimidation: The Abortion Wars and Strategies of Political Harassment
by Alesha E. Doan
Publisher: University of Michigan, 2007
ISBN: paper 978-0-472-06975-0. Ebook 978-0-472-02302-8
Order: University of Michigan
The abortion fight has long been a crucible of political tactics, with both sides employing strategies ranging from litigation to civil disobedience to outright violence. Anti-abortion activists have arguably been more tactically innovative than their pro-choice peers. Opposition and Intimidation looks at how their use of political harassment fits—or doesn’t—with more conventional political efforts in the struggle over abortion.
Alesha Doan’s insightful interviews and observations powerfully portray anti-abortion activists’ relationship to the objects of their protest. Her portrait is augmented by thorough quantitative analysis of harassment’s role within the movement’s multitiered strategy—a strategy that Doan shows has forced a decline in the availability and popularity of abortions. Using her unique study of the anti-abortion movement as a model, Doan extends her findings to propose a novel and valuable theory of the new politics of harassment.
The Girls Who Went Away
The hidden history of women who surrendered children for adoption in the decades before Roe v. Wade
History/Adoption stories (U.S.), 362 pages
Publisher: Penguin Books, 2006, reprinted 2007
In this deeply moving and myth-shattering work, Ann Fessler brings out into the open for the first time the astonishing untold history of the million and a half women who surrendered children for adoption due to enormous family and social pressure in the decades before Roe v. Wade. An adoptee who was herself surrendered during those years and recently made contact with her mother, Ann Fessler brilliantly brings to life the voices of more than a hundred women, as well as the spirit of those times, allowing the women to tell their stories in gripping and intimate detail.
How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America: Freedom, Politics and the War on Sex
Non-fiction (U.S.), 256 pages
Publisher: Basic Books, Dec 26, 2006
From Booklist: The passion of the pro-life movement extends beyond abortion opposition to an overarching desire to end contraceptive use and to restrict sex to procreation only, argues Page, director of a national pro-choice organization. In contrast, by supporting women’s ability to control their reproductive lives, the pro-choice movement has helped to improve life for American women across a broad range of social and economic issues. She details the corrosive influence of pro-life politics on science, including lobbying to prevent FDA approval of an emergency contraceptive pill to be sold over the counter. The pro-life movement has political “muscle that extends across the globe,” harming efforts to reduce family size in developing nations and to encourage advancement of women. Page outlines the threats to the Roe decision and the privacy rights that also protect all aspects of sexuality, from contraception to homosexuality. This is a well-researched and thoughtful look at the politics behind reproductive issues and the implications for all Americans, whatever their position on abortion. Vanessa Bush. Copyright © American Library Association.
The Human Drama of Abortion: A Global Search for Consensus
Non-fiction, 200 pages
Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press, 2006
Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese
Deeply touched by the tragedies of botched abortions that they witnessed as medical students and young physicians in Chile in the 1940s and later around the world, the authors have attempted in their professional lives and now in this book to establish a framework for dialogue to replace the polarization that exists today. Doctors Faundes and Barzelatto use their decades of international work to document the personal experiences of different classes of women in different countries and those countries’ policies and practices. No other book provides such a comprehensive and reasoned examination of the entire topic of abortion, from the medical to the religious and ethical and from the psychological to the legal, in plain language understandable by non-specialists.
The central thesis is that there are too many induced abortions in the world today, that most are preventable and should be prevented–a middle ground that both pro-life and pro-choice advocates can accept. The first part of the book reviews why women have abortions, as well as the magnitude and consequences. The second part examines values. The third part discusses effective interventions. The final part states conclusions about what can be done to reach a necessary social consensus.
Life’s Been a Blast: The Inspiring Story of Birmingham Bombing Survivor Emily Lyons
Memoir (U.S.), 336 pages
Publisher: I Em Press, July 18, 2005
When anti-abortion extremist Eric Rudolph bombed a Birmingham abortion clinic in 1998, nurse Emily Lyons sustained extensive injuries, but survived. This is her personal account of the events and her recovery.
What if your mother
Poetry, 92 pages
Publisher: Chicory Blue Press, Jan. 1, 2005
Judith Arcana, a reproductive rights activist formerly involved in Chicago’s pre-Roe v. Wade underground abortion service, imbues her poetry, fiction and essays with the same ferocity, humor and passion that informs her activism. “It’s a passionate rush of language, hope in a hard time, truth in the middle of lies. This poetry sparks and burns with the hidden language and stories of women” – Minnie Bruce Pratt.
Beyond Choice: Reproductive Freedom in the 21st Century
Non-fiction (U.S.), 354 pages
Publisher: PublicAffairs, 2004, 2nd edition 2005
Thirty years after Roe v. Wade, the argument between “pro-choicers” and “pro-lifers” has reached stalemate. Pro-choice arguments haven’t persuaded a comfortable majority that legal abortion is vital to our society, nor addressed our moral qualms. Younger people are less and less supportive of reproductive rights. Since 1996, state legislatures have enacted nearly 300 pieces of anti-choice legislation. With Roe in jeopardy, International Planned Parenthood Council Chair Alexander Sanger asks a simple but heretical question: How many more pieces of anti-choice legislation will it take to get the pro-choice movement to rethink its approach to the issue?
In Beyond Choice, Sanger explores the history of the reproductive rights movement to discover how it got stuck in its thinking, and then provides a convincing new argument for the moral rightness of its cause. He shows why it is vital to the health and survival of the human race that couples be able to have children, or not, when they choose; why reproductive rights are just as important to men as to women; and why, in an era of new reproductive technologies, completely unfettered choice is not morally defensible. Beyond Choice is inspiring and important reading for women’s rights advocates, opinion leaders, medical ethicists, and anyone concerned to preserve our freedom to reproduce, or not, without government intervention.
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice
Non-fiction (U.S.), 300 pages
Publisher: South End Press, Nov 1, 2004
Undivided Rights presents a fresh and textured understanding of the reproductive rights movement by placing the experiences, priorities, and activism of women of color in the foreground. Using historical research, original organizational case studies, and personal interviews, the authors illuminate how women of color have led the fight to control their own bodies and reproductive destinies. Undivided Rights shows how women of color—-starting within their own Latina, African American, Native American, and Asian American communities—have resisted coercion of their reproductive abilities. Projected against the backdrop of the mainstream pro-choice movement and radical right agendas, these dynamic case studies feature the groundbreaking work being done by health and reproductive rights organizations led by women-of-color. Undivided Rights articulates a holistic vision for reproductive freedom. It refuses to allow our human rights to be divvied up and parceled out into isolated boxes that people are then forced to pick and choose among.
Winning Choice On Abortion: How British Columbian and Canadian Feminists Won the Battles of the 1970s and 1980s
History (Canada), 340 pages
Publisher: Trafford Publishing, Sept. 30 2004
Order: Amazon.ca (Canada)
In 1970, the Abortion Caravan travelled from Vancouver to Ottawa to demand legalization of “A Women’s Right to Choose.’ Nearly 500 women from across Canada joined them in dramatic actions on Mother’s Day weekend – causing the House of Commons to abruptly adjourn in the midst of debate. However, the abortion law remained in the Criminal Code for nearly two more decades. BC feminists returned home and fought for repeal of the law, and to defeat anti-abortion take-overs of public hospitals. It was illegal to perform abortions in free-standing clinics.
When Dr. Henry Morgentaler won his case before the Canadian Supreme Court in 1988, and abortion became fully legal, it took Vancouver feminists only months to open BC’s first abortion clinic. ‘Everywoman’s Health Centre’ has survived against the odds -blockades, break-ins, death threats, financial problems, and a relentless anti-abortion court case. The whole social and political structure of the province was put on tilt. The reactions of government, hospitals, doctors, community organizations, political parties, the labour movement, and above all, women, are the stuff of this book. Winning Choice on Abortion tells all the stories, from the personal to the political, from the ‘Abortion Caravan’ through the first year of ‘Everywoman’s Health Centre.’
The Sociocultural and Political Aspects of Abortion: Global Perspectives
By Alaka Malwade Basu
Non-fiction (global), 288 pages
Publisher: Praeger, January 30, 2003
Seeking to define the ways various cultures view pregnancy, miscarriage, and abortion, this multidisciplinary collection of essays seeks to illustrate how these views influence policy decisions and practices regarding abortion around the world. Putting questions of pro-life and pro-choice aside, the contributors provide demographic coverage of the issues involved and contextualize some of the personal realities that underlie the approximately 50 million abortions that are believed to take place yearly worldwide. While the political and social climates in which women seek abortions vary from place to place, many of the chapters try to understand the moral implications that guide the decision to end a pregnancy from the perspective of the those who seek to do so.
Focusing primarily on developing nations, this important contribution to the literature on abortion provides readers with a careful overview of the different meanings attached to abortion depending on the cultural, social, and political climate. Areas covered include Tanzania, Bangladesh, West Africa, Ghana, Romania, Russia, Mexico, and Nigeria. General chapters on induced abortion, demographic research and abortion policy, and social pressures to abort are also included. This unique approach to the study of abortion will contribute to a greater understanding of a prominent social issue.
Bearing Right: How Conservatives Won the Abortion War
Publisher: University of California Press, 2003
Sacred Choices: The Right to Contraception and Abortion in Ten World Religions
Non-fiction, 160 pages
Publisher: Fortress Press, Jan 3, 2001
This book aims to show how ten major religious traditions in fact contain strong affirmations of the right to family planning, including contraception and even, when necessary, abortion. Maguire first shows how interrelated overpopulation is with poverty, ethnic injustice, gender injustice, and the maldistribution of economic resources. Often the world’s religions (most notoriously perhaps, Roman Catholicism) are thought to contribute only to the problem, rather than solutions, through their hostility to sex, education and equal rights for women, and birth control. In fact, argues Maguire, the ten scholars who consulted for several years about how these traditions treat issues of contraception and abortion find in them a true religious awe at the sacredness of life, a genuine openness to sexuality as a dimension of the sacred, and “alongside the ‘no choice’ position . . . a ‘pro-choice’ position that is too little known, even by adherents to the religion. That is the key message of this book.”
Targets of Hatred: Anti-abortion Terrorism
Non-fiction (N.America), 396 pages
Publisher: Palgrave MacMillan trade, May 4, 2001
Targets of Hatred charts the development of the anti-abortion movement in North America. Beginning in the years preceding the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion, the book examines the roles played by the Catholic Church, Fundamentalist Protestants, and Republican and Democratic parties, and assesses points of overlap and divergence. The voices of more than 190 providers in the United States and Canada–clinic owners, doctors, nurses, technicians, and their families–give readers an in-depth look at what it means to work in a field in which arson, bombings, harassment, and killing are routine. Filled with dramatic, eye-witness accounts of anti-abortion terrorism, the book demonstrates law enforcement’s failure to stem the violence and is a call to arms for concerned individuals.
The Anti-Abortion Law in Poland: The functioning, social effects, attitudes and behaviors
Non-fiction (Poland), 86 pages
Publisher: The Federation for Women and Family Planning, September 2000
Free full download (PDF)
The book has chapters on the effects of the anti-abortion law in Poland, attitudes of medical professionals towards abortion, a survey of health professionals on the law, attitudes of rural women toward reproductive issues, and a research project on abortion and values.
Non-fiction, 352 pages
Publisher: Harvard University Press, April 15, 1999
John Riddle shows, through extraordinary scholarly sleuthing, that women from ancient Egyptian times to the fifteenth century had relied on an extensive pharmacopoeia of herbal abortifacients and contraceptives to regulate fertility. In Eve’s Herbs, Riddle explores a new question: If women once had access to effective means of birth control, why was this knowledge lost to them in modern times? Beginning with the testimony of a young woman brought before the Inquisition in France in 1320, Riddle asks what women knew about regulating fertility with herbs and shows how the new intellectual, religious, and legal climate of the early modern period tended to cast suspicion on women who employed “secret knowledge” to terminate or prevent pregnancy. Knowledge of the menstrual-regulating qualities of rue, pennyroyal, and other herbs was widespread through succeeding centuries among herbalists, apothecaries, doctors, and laywomen themselves, even as theologians and legal scholars began advancing the idea that the fetus was fully human from the moment of conception.
Drawing on previously unavailable material, Riddle reaches a startling conclusion: while it did not persist in a form that was available to most women, ancient knowledge about herbs was not lost in modern times but survived in coded form. Persecuted as “witchcraft” in centuries past and prosecuted as a crime in our own time, the control of fertility by “Eve’s herbs” has been practiced by Western women since ancient times.
There is a bomb in Gilead: Tale from an uncivil war
Novel, 196 pages
Publisher: M & M press, 1999
There is a Bomb in Gilead is the story of individuals and families in one small theatre of the uncivil war that Pro-Life religious fundamentalist militants have waged in the United States on women seeking safe and legal elective abortions, and against those who provide these services. It is set in the fictional town of Gilead just before Easter in the mid-1980’s. Against the background of President Reagan’s support for anti-abortion activities is set the tales of a beautiful young unwed mother of two, Mary Ann Mack, who is pregnant for the third time; of the God-intoxicated teenager, Joshua Tyler, his mother Elizabeth, and his father-the pious and self-assured Reverend John C. Calhoon Tyler. Their stories are intertwined with that of the town’s abortionist, Dr. Hobson, and the histories of some of the girls, women and families who seek his care.While it is set in the 1980’s, the lessons to be learned from its scenes are as timely as, and some of the scenes may be, tomorrow’s headlines. The late author, William F. Harrison MD, was an obstetrician/gynecologist and abortion provider.
Abortion Wars: A Half Century of Struggle, 1950-2000
Non-fiction (U.S.), 301 pages
Publisher: University of California Press, Jan 16, 1998
In this provocative volume, a passionate and diverse group of abortion rights proponents—journalists, scholars, activists, lawyers, physicians, and philosophers—chronicles the evolution of one of the most intensely debated issues of our time. Unique in its attention to so many aspects of the debate, Abortion Wars places key issues such as medical practice, activism, legal strategies, and the meaning of choice in the deeply complex historical context of the past half-century. Taking the reader into the trenches of the battle over abortion rights, the contributors zero in on the key moments and turning points of this ongoing war. Taken together, the historical and interdisciplinary perspectives collected here yield a complex picture of what has been at stake in abortion politics during the past fifty years. The essays clarify why so many women consider abortion crucial to their lives and why opposition to abortion rights has become so violent today. The essays illuminate a fundamental lesson about the nature of social change in the United States: that judicial decisions that overturn restrictive laws and establish new rights do not settle social policy and, in fact, are likely to spark severe and long-lasting resistance.
Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars
Non-fiction (U.S.), 576 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 1998; 2nd edition Jan 5, 2000
Nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, Articles of Faith is a powerful exploration of one of the most divisive issues in our recent political history, and the only book to portray the passion of both sides of the abortion conflict. Drawing from more than five hundred interviews as well as previously unseen archival material, Cynthia Gorney has written a compelling narrative that explores the years between Roe v. Wade (1973) and William L. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989), the first case to challenge the Roe decision before an anti-Roe court. Meet Judith Widdicombe, the registered nurse who runs the abortion underground in 1960s St. Louis and then the first legal clinic after Roe v. Wade. And meet Samuel Lee, a young pacifist and would-be seminarian whose provocative abortion bill becomes the centerpiece of William L. Webster v. Reproductive Health Services. The Supreme Court case brings the two advocates head-to-head.
The New Civil War: The Psychology, Culture, and Politics of Abortion
Edited by Linda Beckman and S. Marie Harvey
Non-fiction (U.S.), 406 pages
Publisher: American Psychological Association, 1998
Twenty-five years after Roe v. Wade, the ripple effect of that landmark ruling still rocks our culture, politics, and social relationships. Roe may have given women the right to choose abortion, but that difficult personal choice will always be embedded in many contexts. Autonomy, bodily integrity, and freedom—all at the heart of Roe—collide with other powerful forces whenever a woman considers ending her pregnancy.
The New Civil War: The Psychology, Culture, and Politics of Abortion examines the individual and combined influence of religion, morality, race, politics, personal history, sociopolitical context, and economics on a woman’s decision to continue or terminate her pregnancy. This exhaustive analysis of the way Americans feel about abortion reveals that, at core, abortion continues to be defined primarily as a moral issue, often at the expense of women’s health and well-being.
Pregnancy Options Workbook: A Resource for Women Making a Difficult Decision
Distributed by: Ferre Institute, 124 Front St. Binghamton NY 13905
© 1998, revised in 1999, 2002, 2006, 2009
Available here (free)
If this workbook is in your hands, you are probably pregnant and not sure what to do. You’re in the right place. Read on. The people who put together this book support you no matter what you choose. We have tried to give you a realistic picture of all the choices you can make–abortion, adoption, and being a parent. You will find exercises to help you make the best decision for you. We have also included information and thoughts on Religion and Spirituality, Fetal Development, and What Can Harm A Pregnancy. There is a special section called Taking Care of Yourself which includes information on morning sickness, birth control, protecting your fertility, and healthy sexuality.
If you are having a hard time with your decision, you may think you can never feel good about your choice. We have found that women who are willing to explore what they think and how they feel can come to a peaceful resolution. To get there, you must be willing to work at it. So, get out your crayons, sharpen your pencils, and do some “homework.” It may be the most important homework you ever do. Remember to listen to your heart and your own voice to find the right answer for you. Get some help if you need it.
Wrath of Angels: the American Abortion War
Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero
Biography (Canada), 474 pages
Publisher: Random House Canada, Jan. 1, 1997
From Barnes & Noble: Here is the definitive biography of one of Canada’s most controversial personalities. Dr. Henry Morgentaler is the unlikely hero at the center of Canada’s most divisive issue—the right to legal and medically safe abortion—and a man of intense contradiction. He is a champion of women, a humanist, and a caring, compassionate doctor, beloved by patients from all social strata. Yet his relationships with friends, family, and lovers over the years have been troubled. Morgentaler is no easy hero, but he is an intriguing subject.
This book is the first to tell his story completely, in all its complexity. It traces the life of a man forced to face death at an early age in Auschwitz, a man who has chosen to live as a perpetual and deliberate outsider, and a man who may not himself understand why he feels he must go to battle for an issue that few Canadians are comfortable with. Morgentaler paints a fascinating portrait of a heroic Canadian figure, complex in his motivations, loved and hated for his central role in the country’s most dangerous debate.
Pioneers of Change: Interviews with people who made the 1967 Abortion Act possible
History (UK), 88 pages
Publisher: Birth Control Trust, 1997
Free full download
This BPAS publication contains interviews with the campaigners, doctors and parliamentarians who made the 1967 Abortion Act possible. Introducing this new pamphlet, reissued by BPAS for the 40th anniversary of the 1967 Abortion Act, BPAS chief executive Ann Furedi writes: ‘The 1967 Act was a product of its times. It reflected and codified the concerns of the 1960s and was shaped by the debates and controversies of its day. Public discussion about abortion in the 1960s took place in the context of the social reforms and more liberal attitudes that have come to be regarded as characteristic of that period.’
Abortion Law Reformers: Pioneers of Change presents frank interviews with many of the campaigners, doctors and parliamentarians who brought the 1967 Abortion Act into being, providing an inspiring sense of the spirit in which the Act was conceived and thoughtful reflections on how well the law has worked subsequently.
The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service
History (U.S.), 334 pages
Publisher: University of Chicago Press, June 9, 1997
“During the four years before the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision legalized abortion in 1973, the 100 members of Jane helped some 11,000 women end their pregnancies….There is more in this remarkable book that will further raise eyebrows….Kaplan’s engrossing tales of the quiet courage of the women who risked their reputations and freedom to help others may remind many readers of other kinds of outlaws who have resisted tyranny throughout history.”—Chicago Sun-Times
When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973
History (U.S.), 387 pages
Publisher: University of California Press, 1997
In this classic book, Reagan traces the practice and policing of abortion in America. While abortions have been typically portrayed as grim “back alley” operations, she finds that abortion providers often practiced openly and safely. Moreover, numerous physicians performed abortions, despite prohibitions by the state and the American Medical Association. Women often found cooperative practitioners, but prosecution, public humiliation, loss of privacy, and inferior medical care were a constant threat. Reagan’s analysis of previously untapped sources, including inquest records and trial transcripts, shows the fragility of patient rights and raises provocative questions about the relationship between medicine and law. With the right to abortion again under attack in the United States, this book offers vital lessons for every American concerned with health care, civil liberties, and personal and sexual freedom.
Abortion: A Positive Decision
Non-fiction, 232 pages
Publisher: Praeger, Jan. 27, 1992
From Publishers Weekly: The case is daringly made here that abortion is a positive experience–and Lunneborg’s argument is both moving and persuasive. The author, a retired women’s studies professor from the University of Washington, provides an oral history of abortion elicited from the patients and providers at Planned Parenthood and American feminist health clinics. She finds abortion clinics to be places where women are highly valued and patients’ self-esteem is carefully tended; some patients here report being treated better in the clinics than anywhere else. Calling on the results of a questionnaire and interviews, Lunneborg demonstrates that patients seldom experience guilt or trauma, despite the ethical dilemma inherent in the procedure. “The reality of the abortion is there’s no regret, no sadness, no guilt, nor remorse. It’s a sense of relief,” asserts one woman. Many others report feeling more in charge of their lives afterward. The book explodes many myths. (Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
The Cider House Rules
Novel, 598 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition Dec 9, 1993 (originally published 1985)
The novel follows Wilbur Larch, obstetrician and orphanage director, over the course of his very long life, with the main emphasis on the forty-some years he shares with his favorite and finally unadoptable orphan Homer Wells from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. Homer evolves into Larch’s apprentice, spending years with Gray’s Anatomy and real-life midwifery until there is little difference in training between Dr. and pupil. The father/son theme runs wide in this novel but has its genesis in Larch’s childlessness among many hundreds of orphans and Homer’s fatherlessness with Larch as father figure extraordinaire. The orphanage at St. Cloud’s has a deep secret that gives Larch his impetus to train a successor: it is the only place in a wide swath of rural Maine that a woman can receive a safe and professional abortion. Among the many births that keep the orphanage full and Larch and Homer busy in delivery, there is the other work of rescue that Larch pursues and Homer eventually rejects. The polemical possibilities of the pro-life and pro-choice debate are not missed in the long case of Larch and Homer, but it’s important to see this debate in the context of the time, and to see how Irving widens his lens on so much else in the moral universe.
Book Review: by victor.kralisz, dallaslibrary2.org
by Richard Yates
Fiction (U.S.), 355 pages
Publisher: Vintage, April 2000, originally published 1961
Hailed as a masterpiece of realistic fiction and as the most evocative portrayal of the opulent desolation of the American suburbs since it’s publication in 1961, Revolutionary Road is the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.
From Bustle.com: Abortion is like a ghost that meanders through Frank and April are an all-American couple, but their marriage began as the result of an unplanned pregnancy. Now, caught in a last-ditch effort to save her relationship, another pregnancy puts April in danger.