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7 books about the fight for reproductive rights

By Kobo • June 05, 2022Big Ideas

When the future of reproductive rights feels uncertain, looking back at history can help us push forward

In early May 2022, a draft opinion of the Supreme Court of the United States of America was leaked, revealing the intention to overturn the 1973 landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, which protects a person’s right to choose when it comes to having an abortion. Although the public has only seen a draft opinion and not yet heard the court’s final decision, many fear losing access to an important part of healthcare as well as bodily autonomy when the court hands down its ruling.

To learn more about the history of abortion access in the USA, as well as other tenets of reproductive justice, for which we borrow our definition from SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective as “the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities,” take some time to explore these reads on the topic.

New Handbook for a Post-Roe America: The Complete Guide to Abortion Legality, Access, and Practical Support by Robin Marty

This 2021 guide (updated since the original 2019 edition with new chapters and a foreword by Amanda Palmer) is even more relevant today than when it was first published. Author Robin Marty takes the reader through living in a potential post-Roe America, how to organize for reproductive rights, need-to-knows about self-managed medical abortions and how to protect your privacy in the age of social media. Marty’s book is a go-to source for all who are seeking hope and support in this uncertain age for reproductive rights.

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Reproductive Justice: An Introduction by Loretta J. Ross and Rickie Solinger

Reproductive Justice: An Introduction brings the reader up to date with both a historical and modern perspective on the issues around reproductive justice and is a great primer for those new to exploring these issues. And readers can go deeper on different issues through other volumes in the series, Reproductive Justice: A New Vision for the 21st Century.

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Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights by Karen Blumenthal

Written by journalist Karen Blumenthal, Jane Against the World is intended for young adults but is appropriate for readers of all ages who are looking to learn more about the history of reproductive rights in the United States. Blumenthal takes the reader through the history of reproductive rights leading into and following Roe, examining the events that are behind today’s continued fight for bodily autonomy.

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The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan

Originally published in 1996 with an update in 2019, The Story of Jane recounts the history of an underground abortion referral service, “Jane”, in the four years before the Roe v. Wade decision. Kaplan’s book is an accessible exploration of the time before Roe and tells the stories of those who took care of each other in the face of oppressive legislation.

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How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump by Laura Briggs

From the same series as Reproductive Justice: An Introduction, feminist critic Laura Briggs takes a holistic look at reproductive justice, connecting the fight against bodily autonomy and reproductive rights to other human rights issues, from marriage equality to immigration. Each chapter covers a different issue concerning reproductive politics.

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Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty by Dorothy Roberts

Dorothy Roberts’ Killing the Black Body was originally published in 1997 but is just as relevant today. A scholar of race, gender, and law, Roberts takes a historical look at the reproductive rights of Black women in the United States, from slavery to the eugenics movement of the early 20th century to more recent legislation and welfare “reform” that disproportionately impacted Black women—especially poor Black women.

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Reproductive Justice: The Politics of Health Care for Native American Women by Barbara Gurr

Barbara Gurr’s book is a focused look at reproductive justice, specifically examining the experiences and needs of those living on Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota Nation in South Dakota. For a look at the impact colonialism has had on Indigenous communities’ reproductive rights and how Indigenous peoples can move forward in caring for each other, this is a must read.

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