Tag: Abortion

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 →

What Feminists Did the Last Time Abortion Was Illegal

As the US Supreme Court heard arguments over the Texas and Mississippi laws that threatened to weaken Roe v. Wade substantially, my thoughts turned to the abortion rights activists I interviewed in California in the wake of the 1989 Webster decision. Webster v. Reproductive Services also involved a Mississippi statute, one that required viability testing… Read more →

Making Sense of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

On December 1, 2021, the Supreme Court heard Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the case that threatens to unravel Roe v. Wade and legal abortion. I was teaching during the hearing, so – struggling to understand what was happening – I read the transcript the next day. And then I read it again because… 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 →

Peering Into Windows and Wombs: Reflections on SB 8

I thought about Dr. Curtis Boyd when I heard that the Supreme Court greenlit Texas’s unprecedented abortion restrictions. In the 1960s, Dr. Boyd lived in a small town in southern Texas. There, he provided illegal abortions to thousands of women who traveled across the United States to see him. Some of the women who found… Read more →

Seeing Pregnant People: History, Empathy, and Reproductive Politics

On November 22, 1863, New Yorker Charles F. Robertson testified in a deposition that, “About two months ago [his wife Letitia] suspected that she was in the family way and seemed almost crazy at the idea, and commenced taking medicine to bring on an abortion. She took blood root, tanzy, &c., and on the night… Read more →

The Good Friday Abortion Sermon; or, Why I Study Abortion History

Sometime around 2012, at a Good Friday service at the church my family had belonged to since before I was born, the pastor gave a sermon on abortion. The story he told was the classic pro-life narrative of a brave mother who, being informed that carrying her most recent pregnancy to term would lead to… Read more →

Abortion Out West: An Interview with Alicia Gutierrez-Romine

Published in 2020 by the University of Nebraska Press, Alicia Gutierrez-Romine’s From Back Alley to the Border: Criminal Abortion in California, 1920–1969 tells the story of abortion during the era it was outlawed in California. We recently chatted about how Gutierrez-Romine came to the topic, the challenges of telling these women’s stories, and why California… Read more →

Manslaughter or Necessary Operation? Abortion and Murder in Early 20th-Century Missouri

In April 2021, I was part of an exciting experimental conference, hosted by Dr. Courtney Thompson through Mississippi State University: Archival Kismet. In “Archival Kismet: a Manifesto,” Dr. Thompson outlines the goals of and thinking behind the conference. For me, the conference allowed me to reach out to other scholars to discuss sources that were a… Read more →

Women’s Experiences Matter. Natalie Kimball’s An Open Secret: The History of Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion in Modern Bolivia

Women’s experiences matter – this simple truth is at the core of Natalie Kimball’s brilliant new exploration into the tragic history of unwanted pregnancy and abortion in highland Bolivia over the past sixty years. As Kimball so eloquently argues in her book An Open Secret: The History of Unwanted Pregnancy and Abortion in Modern Bolivia,… Read more →