Even in 2017, it can be hard to find positive depictions and arguments for abortion in popular culture. Honest stories of abortion, and its social and economic implications, are important to ending the stigma people face when deciding to terminate a pregnancy. After all, one in three women will have an abortion in their life.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite fiction and nonfiction books that portray abortion, the people who have them, and the people who perform them in an honest, unbiased way. Beyond being important to spreading the message of reproductive rights, they are also great reads.
Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt
This book, published in 2014, is the book that first got me interested in abortion rights. Katha Pollitt lays out the arguments for why abortion is necessary, and how it affects gender, health, and economic inequalities in the United States and throughout the world. You will finish the book and think “What can I do?”
Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
Lindy West’s memoir is about a lot of things: body positivity, feminism, trolls, women in comedy, weight discrimination. It also tells the story of her abortion. West gives a straightforward account of her decision and her barriers —and the fact that she did not have any regrets. It’s a refreshing take on a storyline that is usually fraught with emotions and indecision. It is also hilarious.
The Cider House Rules by John Irving
The Cider House Rules, as you may remember from the 1999 movie, is the story of Homer Wells, apprentice of Dr. Wilbur Larch. Wells helps raise unwanted babies in Dr. Larch’s orphanage but steers clear of his other practice—performing illegal abortions. This changes when a young couple seeks out Dr. Larch and brings Wells into a world outside the orphanage. Most people argue that the book is better than the movie, which is all the more reason to check out both and decide for yourself.
My Notorious Life by Kate Manning
Axie Muldoon goes from rags to riches in her quest to bring reproductive rights to the people of New York City. My Notorious Life tells the tale of her crusade, inspired by the real life, and infamous, female physician known as the “Wickedest Woman in New York” in the 1860s. This great historical fiction will make you realize how far we’ve come, and how far we still need to go.
Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker
Dr. Parker is known to reproductive justice advocates for being one of the few doctors who performs abortions in Mississippi and Alabama. His memoir is both his personal account of going from Christian fundamentalist to outspoken abortion provider and his case for championing abortion access from a Christian standpoint. He will be at Politics and Prose to discuss his book with Pro author Katha Pollitt on Wednesday, April 19.
Have you read any good, abortion-positive books? Tweet us @DCAbortionFund and let us know!