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Day 20 of the 40 Days for Life Blogathon

Guest post from Nate, one of my amazing progressive friend studying history at Bowling Green State University:
"First, an e-shout-out to Ashley for protesting in style with this 40 day blog.

So, the subject of abortion and reproductive rights isn’t something that I would naturally discuss. I’m not particularly involved in the movement, nor am I as educated about it as I should be. These are the reasons that, when assigned to read an oral history for a class in my M.A. program, I chose Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 by David P. Cline. As fate would have it, Ashley was looking for guest writers for her blog and I responded by offering to review this book.

With that said, I’m not so sure that a review is the best I could offer. I thought about describing the people in Cline’s work, like Jean, who became pregnant during her freshman year in college in 1966 when both abortion and birth control were illegal. On her search for options, she stumbled upon a suspicious black market adoption network before settling for an abortion in a makeshift clinic in the Harlem projects. Carol, a married mother of three who could not support a fourth child, became pregnant during a time when birth control – including via vasectomy – was illegal in Connecticut. She found her abortion in Puerto Rico in a house that doubled as a clinic. Susan barely survived after hemorrhaging during her trip home from having an abortion in New Jersey. When she recovered, her doctor called her a whore and finally provided her with birth control pills because he claimed that no honest man would want her anymore. Nancy also experienced hemorrhaging during her abortion. She became pregnant by her boyfriend, William, in 1970. Neither were ready for parenthood as young college students. Enrolled in a pre-med program, William had some knowledge of anatomy and had researched abortion methods. Having no other recourse, Nancy submitted to the idea. The procedure failed. Nancy died. William went to jail.

During this time, women risked everything they had because society placed no importance on sexual education or reproductive options. More succinctly, society actively denied a woman’s right to control her own body.

The details of these stories aren’t unique. The real impact upon reading Cline’s book is not the specifics he lists but rather the sheer number of these stories that he reveals. In each account, these women reference a vast network of people involved in the struggle for reproductive rights. The other 75% of the book that I haven’t even mentioned yet consists of medical professionals, clergy, and advocates who affirm that support system and consider themselves members of it.

You know what’s really fascinating? Not one of these people regrets being involved. Not one of them. Most of them are still fighting and speaking out. Every time they talk, someone else is informed and the network grows.

So, while the fight is still roaring and we still deal with regressive backlash like the Heartbeat Bill, know that history shows that the reproductive rights movement, and the women’s rights movement overall, has grown exponentially and will continue growing as long as women keep talking and keep sharing their stories."

Categories: Abortion, Uncategorized