Lest it is difficult to read the Guttmacher infographic, it says this: By age 45 about half of American women will have an unintended pregnancy, and nearly one in three will have an abortion. It's true: and it means that it's awfully unlikely that you don't know one or many women who have had one, or a partner who supported a woman through it. (Or you, dear reader, are one of them yourself.) It's a surprising reality, though, that we just don't hear about very often from the people we know: few women, relatively, feel like they can speak about their abortion to others. "More state-level abortion restrictions were enacted in 2011 than in any prior year; 2012 brought the second-highest number of restrictions ever." The public conversation about abortion is … well, you know how it is. Many of us argue our abortion beliefs among friends, families, and other groups in theoretical or political terms, assuming nobody in the group has a personal abortion experience. To mention that you've had one must feel like throwing yourself to the lions.
So: nearly 1 in 3 American women. Four crucial decades of abortion affirmed under our right to privacy, even as politicians use the issue as bait, throwing up every shaming and arduous obstacle possible.
There are a lot of stories there, a great many of them untold. (UPDATE: "What keeps black women from going public with our stories?" asks Dani McClain in Ebony.) They call for listeners. Reading is, I believe, a kind of intimate listening. That's why I'm reviving something I started last year on this day: sharing the most honest, brilliant, and important stories about abortion and the full scope of reproductive justice. All have been teachers to me.
And let's pause to say a prayer of gratitude. As Guttmacher puts it:
There are no women of reproductive age in the United States today who
were of reproductive age prior to Roe. U.S. women of this age have never
known a nation in which abortion was illegal and unsafe.
That is remarkable. Let us keep it that way. Let us listen.
- "Birthright." Jill Lepore, The New Yorker. (See also her dispatch on the 40th anniversary of Roe.)
- Lepore's interview on NPR's "Fresh Air": "How Birth Control and Abortion Became Politicized".
- "Teaching Good Sex." Laurie Abraham, The New York Times
- "Mothers, Sisters, Daughters, Wives." Mimi Swartz, The Texas Monthly
- "The Message and the Meaning: Is Pro-Choice Passe?" Katha Pollit, The Nation.
- "Nursing Grudges." Dahlia Lithwick, Slate.
- "'We Have No Choice.'" Carolyn Jones. The Texas Observer.
- "Lucky Girl." Bridget Potter, Guernica.
- "An Abortion Battle, Fought to the Death." David Barstow. The New York Times.
- "The New Abortion Providers." Emily Bazelon. The New York Times Magazine.
- "Before (and After) Roe v. Wade: New Questions About Backlash." Linda Greenhouse & Reva B. Siegel. The Yale Law Journal.
- "Family Planning – A Special and Urgent Concern." Martin Luther King, Jr., 1965.
- New Yorker slideshow: "Roe v. Wade and the Forty Years' War"
- Gorgeous art posters on reproductive rights that take a "people's history" slant
- Exhale: Pro-Voice
- The incomparable Scarleteen: an exhaustive site on "sex ed for the real world"
- Bill Moyers on Choice
- "Listening Beyond Life and Choice." Frances Kissling featured on PRI's "On Being" with Krista Tippett. Kissling is the former head of Catholics for Choice.
- MTV special: "No Easy Decision."
Supreme Court Decisions:
- Griswold v. Connecticut
(1965), which established the constitutional right to privacy. It
struck down a Connecticut state law that prohibited birth control even
for married couples.
- Roe v. Wade (1971),
which was decided simultaneously with Doe v. Bolton to uphold the right
to privacy under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- "Interview: Sarah Weddington." TIME interviews the 26-year-old lawyer who argued in the Roe. v. Wade case before the Supreme Court. Martha Burk also interviews Weddington for the PRX show "Equal Time with Martha Burk."
- The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power, and the Future of the World – Michelle Goldberg. See also my interview with Goldberg here.
- Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction, and the Meaning of Liberty – Dorothy Roberts
- In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution – Susan Brownmiller
- S.E.X: The All-You-Need-To-Know Progressive Sexuality Guide to Get You Through High School and College – Heather Corinna
- Our Bodies, Ourselves – Boston Women's Health Book Collective