This 25th anniversary edition places abortion politics in the context of reproductive justice today and explains why abortion has been—and remains—a political flashpoint in the United States.
Prior to Roe v. Wade, hundreds of thousands of illegal abortions occurred in the United States every year. Rickie Solinger shares the story of Ruth Barnett, an abortionist in Portland, Oregon, between 1918 and 1968 to demonstrate that it was the law, not so-called back-alley practitioners, that most endangered women's lives in the years before abortion was legal. Women from all walks of life came to Barnett to seek abortions, who worked in a proper office, undisturbed by legal authorities, and never losing a patient. But in the anti-abortion fervor of the post-World War II era, Barnett and other practitioners were hounded by police and became convenient targets for politicians, forcing desperate women to use abortion syndicates run by racketeers or self-induced methods that often ended in serious injury or death. Solinger makes vivid use of newspaper accounts and extant legal transcripts to document how, throughout the country, laws were used to persecute competent abortion practitioners.
This 25th anniversary edition clarifies why the cultural and political meanings of abortion have remained surprisingly static despite the status of women changing so dramatically since Barnett and Roe v. Wade. And as attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade continue, The Abortionist is an instructive reminder of the vigilance necessary to protect both women and those who provide them with the freedom to decide for themselves what is best for their own health.
As the nation continues to see anti-abortion laws in Georgia, Ohio, and Alabama, reproductive justice historian Rickie Solinger discusses the longstanding narrative that values the “sanctity of the unborn” over pregnant people, …Read More >