Lara Freidenfelds

The Family Roe and the Messy Reality of the Abortion “Jane Roe” Didn’t Get

I almost didn’t read The Family Roe: An American Story by Joshua Prager. When I saw the premise – a biography of Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade, and her family – I wasn’t immediately sure why I should care. I study the broad-scale social history of reproductive health and I had… Read more →

Babylost: An Interview with Monica Casper

Sociologist Monica Casper, who has written previously on fetal surgery, has published a new book called Babylost: Racism, Survival, and the Quiet Politics of Infant Mortality, from A to Z. The book consists of a series of essays related to stillbirth and newborn death, arranged alphabetically by topic. Lara: In my research for The Myth… Read more →

A Love Letter to Intellectual Mothers

Marga Vicedo’s Intelligent Love: The Story of Clara Park, Her Autistic Daughter, and the Myth of the Refrigerator Mother is a love letter to intellectual mothers. And Vicedo’s warm and astute delivery exemplifies the blending of love and intellect Vicedo discerns in her subject, Clara Park. The book is centered around Park, whose odyssey of… Read more →

What Does It Mean to Have a “Real Choice” about Abortion?

What does it mean to have a “real choice” about abortion? I am writing this book review as the Supreme Court hears arguments over Mississippi’s law banning abortion after 15 weeks of gestation, and it could seem like the wrong time for arguing the subtleties of this question. Abortion may become flat-out illegal throughout the… Read more →

When Abortion Was a Necessary Sin

Anyone tempted to make facile arguments about abortion politics, on either side of the aisle, needs to read John Christopoulos’s new book, Abortion in Early Modern Italy. The book is beautifully written and the stories in it are jaw-dropping, with nearly tabloid-worthy details about individuals’ sex lives and relationships, though handled with appropriate respect. As… Read more →

Liberal Christians in the Making of Sex Education

In the 1960s conservative Christian leaders like Billy James Hargis and his “Christian Crusade” defined the culture wars over sex education as a battle between secular liberals who wanted to teach comprehensive sex ed in the public schools, and religious conservatives who demanded silence on the subject.[1] That framing has stuck in the cultural imagination…. Read more →

What About Men’s Reproductive Health?

In her latest book, GUYnecology: The Missing Science of Men’s Reproductive Health, sociologist Rene Almeling asks why all the public health messages about healthy childbearing seem to be aimed at women. What about the research that shows that men’s health is relevant to the condition of their sperm, and can profoundly affect the health of… Read more →

Pregnancy and Miscarriage on Social Media: New Metaphors to Make Miscarriages Easier to Talk About, and Easier to Bear

For someone who has been trying for a pregnancy, it is naturally tempting to want to share the exciting and potentially life-changing news of a positive home pregnancy test. Common wisdom has been to keep it secret, though, until the end of the first trimester, once miscarriage is less likely. After all, if you’ve taken… Read more →

Accessibility in America Past and Present

Bess Williamson’s Accessible America: A History of Disability and Design is a thought-provoking and edifying look at the shifting culture around disability and the design of our built environment in the United States from post-World War II to the present. I was interested to read the book both because I have a longstanding scholarly interest… Read more →

Sperm Donor Siblings Speak Their Truths

In Random Families: Genetic Strangers, Sperm Donor Siblings, and the Creation of New Kin, sociologists Rosanna Hertz and Margaret Nelson ask what it means for children to be related to each other via a sperm donor. In their rendering, this is not merely a theoretical question up for philosophical debate. What is so brilliant about… Read more →