Nonfiction November: Become the Expert

Nonfiction November 2014Last year, Lu of Regular Rumination hosted Nonfiction November, a monthlong celebration of all things nonfiction. She brought it back this year with three other co-hosts. This week’s co-host is Lu herself, and the prompt is:

This was one of my favorite topics last year. Everyone loves a list, after all! If you decide to Be the Expert, post a list of books about a certain topic that you’ve read and can recommend. If you’d like to Become the Expert, do a little research and create a list of books on a certain topic that you’d like to read. Finally, if you’d just like suggestions from other participants on which books to read about a certain topic, you can Ask the Expert.

I did Be the Expert last year, so this year I’m going with Become the Expert. And the topic, inexplicably (because I’m a clinic escort and sometimes feel like I talk about it 24/7): abortion. Now, I’ve read a lot of literature on this subject in my day, but…there’s always room for more! I own some of these, I’ve skimmed one and am currently reading another, and I’ve had my eye on the rest for a while, so here it is. My abortion reading list:


Crow After Roe: How “Separate But Equal” Has Become the New Standard in Women’s Health and How We Can Change That by Jessica Mason Pieklo and Robin Marty (2013)

From Goodreads summary: Crow After Roe…takes a look at twelve states that since 2010 have each passed a different anti-abortion or anti-women’s health law, and how each law is explicitly written to provoke a repeal of “Roe v. Wade.” The book will detail not just the history of the laws in question, but how they challenge “Roe v. Wade” and create a reproductive health care system that puts women–especially poor, rural, or those of color–into a separate class with fewer choices or control.

Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt (2014)

From Goodreads summary: In this urgent, controversial book, Katha Pollitt reframes abortion as a common part of a woman’s reproductive life, one that should be accepted as a moral right with positive social implications. In Pro, Pollitt takes on the personhood argument, reaffirms the priority of a woman’s life and health, and discusses why terminating a pregnancy can be a force for good for women, families, and society. It is time, Pollitt argues, that we reclaim the lives and the rights of women and mothers.

The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service by Laura Kaplan (1997)

Cleveland Plain Dealer summary via Goodreads: In the four years before the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, most women determined to get abortions had to subject themselves to the power of illegal, unregulated abortionists…But a Chicago woman who happened to stumble across a secret organization code-named ‘Jane’ had an alternative. Laura Kaplan, who joined Jane in 1971, has pieced together the histories of the anonymous (here identified only by pseudonyms), average-sounding women who transformed themselves into outlaws.

This Common Secret: My Journey as an Abortion Doctor by Susan Wicklund (2007)

Goodreads summary: In This Common Secret Dr. Susan Wicklund chronicles her emotional and dramatic twenty-year career on the front lines of the abortion war. Growing up in working class, rural Wisconsin, Wicklund had her own painful abortion at a young age. It was not until she became a doctor that she realized how many women shared her ordeal of an unwanted pregnancy—and how hidden this common experience remains. This is the story of Susan’s love for a profession that means listening to women and helping them through one of the most pivotal and controversial events in their lives. Hers is also a calling that means sleeping on planes and commuting between clinics in different states—and that requires her to wear a bulletproof vest and to carry a .38 caliber revolver. This is also the story of the women whom Susan serves, women whose options are increasingly limited.

Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients, and the Rest of Us by Carole Joffe (2010)

Goodreads summary: More than thirty-five years after women won the right to legal abortion, most people do not realize how inaccessible it has become. In these pages, reproductive-health researcher Carole Joffe shows how a pervasive stigma—cultivated by the religious right—operates to maintain barriers to access by shaming women and marginalizing abortion providers. Through compelling testimony from doctors, health-care workers, and patients, Joffe reports the lived experiences behind the polemics, while also offering hope for a more compassionate standard of women’s health care.

The Choices We Made: Twenty-Five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion edited by Angela Bonavoglia (2001)

Goodreads summary: Every day in America, abortion providers and the women who need them are in danger. First published ten years ago, this collection of 25 powerful stories from contributors both famous and ordinary, privileged and poor, provides often harrowing insights into what happens when women are denied the right to choose. Testimonials from teenagers, college students, overloaded young mothers, and even a retired male Marine put a human face on one of this country’s most controversial issues and offer passionate arguments for access to legal and safe abortions.

15 thoughts on “Nonfiction November: Become the Expert

  1. I read Jane before. It horrified me to hear about what they were doing. It is one of the best reasons to have abortion legal and done by trained medical personnel or else nondoctors will do it. I’m adding This Common Secret to my TBR list.

  2. My question would be: have you read anything that gives a different perspective? Perhaps Abby Johnson’s Unplanned or Abortion by RC Sproul. It’s important to understand the other person’s point of view, especially in regard to an issue that is so important and so polarizing. That’s why I’ve read some pro-abortion books, to try to understand how a woman could come to the point of deciding to abort her baby.

    1. I have. Probably the most balanced one is Contested Lives by Faye Ginsburg (about a community organization of pro-choice/pro-life people who set their differences aside and instead focus on common goals).

  3. These all sound like incredibly important, powerful reads. Thank you for putting together this list. I’ve already heard great things about Pro and This Common Secret.

  4. !!

    I think you might be my new favorite blog. I just came here by way of Regular Rumination’s Nonfiction November posts and this post has pretty much solidified my choice to follow you. ❤

  5. A fascinating list – but I suspect a list that would just make me very angry.
    The fact that we still have to fight for & write books defending women having the right to do with their bodies as they wish to, need to, want to…just gets me hot and bothered!

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