In a landmark decision, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, declaring that the constitutional right to abortion no longer exists. This feels like a lost fight and a huge defeat. As a Mexican teenager, I am devastated to see one of the most acclaimed advanced and progressive countries commit these acts. Now is the time to educate ourselves, become informed and raise our voices so that we will never be silenced again. Here is a series of books to learn about the importance of legal abortion and proper reproductive health, especially for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Native, disabled, LGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent people.
If you are looking for more resources or to donate, check out our masterlist here
You’re the Only One I’ve Told
Author: Meera Shah
Genre: Non Fiction/ Feminism
Goodreads Summary: For a long time, when people asked Dr. Meera Shah, Chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic, what she did, she would tell them she was a doctor and leave it at that. But when she started to be direct about her work as an abortion provider an interesting thing started to happen: one by one, people would confide that they’d had an abortion themselves. The refrain was often the same: You’re the only one I’ve told.
This book collects these stories as they’ve been told to Shah to humanize abortion and to combat myths that persist in the discourse that surrounds it. A wide range of ages, races, socioeconomic factors, and experiences shows that abortion always occurs in a unique context.
Today, a healthcare issue that’s so precious and foundational to reproductive, social, and economic freedom for millions of people is exploited by politicians who lack understanding or compassion about the context in which abortion occurs. Stories have the power to break down stigmas and help us to empathize with those whose experiences are unlike our own.
Beyond Roe: Why Abortion Should be Legal–Even If the Fetus is a Person
Author: David Boonin
Genre: Non Fiction/Philosophy
Goodreads Summary: Most arguments for or against abortion focus on one question: is the fetus a person? In this provocative and important book, David Boonin defends the claim that even if the fetus is a person with the same right to life you and I have, abortion should still be legal, and most current restrictions on abortion should be abolished. Beyond Roe points to a key legal precedent: McFall v. Shimp. In 1978, an ailing Robert McFall sued his cousin, David Shimp, asking the court to order Shimp to provide McFall with the bone marrow he needed. The court ruled in Shimp’s favor and McFall soon died. Boonin extracts a compelling lesson from the case of McFall v. Shimp–that having a right to life does not give a person the right to use another person’s body even if they need to use that person’s body to go on living-and he uses this principle to support his claim that abortion should be legal and far less restricted than it currently is, regardless of whether the fetus is a person.
By taking the analysis of the right to life that Judith Jarvis Thomson pioneered in a moral context and applying it in a legal context in this novel way, Boonin offers a fresh perspective that is grounded in assumptions that should be accepted by both sides of the abortion debate. Written in a lively, conversational style, and offering a case study of the value of reason in analyzing complex social issues, Beyond Roe will be of interest to students and scholars in a variety of fields, and to anyone interested in the debate over whether government should restrict or prohibit abortion.
Killing the Black Body
Author: Dorothy Roberts
Genre: Non Fiction/ Feminism/ Historical
Goodreads Summary:This is a no-holds-barred response to the liberal and conservative retreat from an assertive, activist, and socially transformative civil rights agenda of recent years–using a black feminist lens and the issue of the impact of recent legislation, social policy, and welfare “reform” on black women’s–especially poor black women’s–control over their bodies’ autonomy and their freedom to bear and raise children with respect and dignity in a society whose white mainstream is determined to demonize, even criminalize their lives. It gives its readers a cogent legal and historical argument for a radically new , and socially transformative, definition of “liberty” and “equality” for the American polity from a black feminist perspective.
The author is able to combine the most innovative and radical thinking on several fronts–racial theory, feminist, and legal–to produce a work that is at once history and political treatise. By using the history of how American law–beginning with slavery–has treated the issue of the state’s right to interfere with the black woman’s body, the author explosively and effectively makes the case for the legal redress to the racist implications of current policy with regards to 1) access to and coercive dispensing of birth control to poor black women 2) the criminalization of parenting by poor black women who have used drugs 3) the stigmatization and devaluation of poor black mothers under the new welfare provisions, and 4) the differential access to and disproportionate spending of social resources on the new reproductive technologies used by wealthy white couples to insure genetically related offspring.
The legal redress of the racism inherent in current American law and policy in these matters, the author argues in her last chapter, demands and should lead us to adopt a new standard and definition of the liberal theory of “liberty” and “equality” based on the need for, and the positive role of government in fostering, social as well as individual justice.
Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice
Author: Loretta J. Ross, Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Elena R. Gutiérrez, Elena Gutierrez.
Genre: Non Fiction/ Feminism/ Political
Goodreads Summary: 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.
The book details how and why these women have defined and implemented expansive reproductive health agendas that reject legalistic remedies and seek instead to address the wider needs of their communities. It stresses the urgency for innovative strategies that push beyond the traditional base and goals of the mainstream pro-choice movement—strategies that are broadly inclusive while being specific, strategies that speak to all women by speaking to each woman. While the authors raise tough questions about inclusion, identity politics, and the future of women’s organizing, they also offer a way out of the limiting focus on “choice.”
Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: Women of Color and the Fight for Reproductive Justice
Author: Zakiya Luna
Genre: Non Fiction/ Feminism
Goodreads Summary: How did reproductive justice–defined as the right to have children, to not have children, and to parent–become recognized as a human rights issue? In Reproductive Rights as Human Rights, Zakiya Luna highlights the often-forgotten activism of women of color who are largely responsible for creating what we now know as the modern-day reproductive justice movement.
Focusing on SisterSong, an intersectional reproductive justice organization, Luna shows how, and why, women of color mobilized around reproductive rights in the domestic arena. She examines their key role in re-framing reproductive rights as human rights, raising this set of issues as a priority in the United States, a country hostile to the concept of human rights at home.
The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service
Author: Laura Kaplan
Genre: Non Fiction/Feminism/Historical/Political
Goodreads Summary: In the four years before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, most women determined to get abortions had to subject themselves to the power of illegal, unregulated abortionists…But a Chicago woman who happened to stumble across a secret organization code-named ‘Jane’ had an alternative. Laura Kaplan, who joined Jane in 1971, has pieced together the histories of the anonymous (here identified only by pseudonyms), average-sounding women who transformed themselves into outlaws.
I’m a little bit late catching up with this post, but this is a wonderful reading list. Thank you so much for these recommendations; I’ve also been diving into books to help myself expand my understanding and learn about what steps I can take next, and I’ve added almost all of these to my reading list. I was struggling to find books like these despite looking for them, so thank you again!
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