To Offer Compassion: A Selected Bibliography

June 11th, 2017

Doris Andrea Dirks discusses To Offer Compassion: A History of the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion (U of Wisconsin Press, 2017), Thu. 6/22 6pm at the Co-op. She will be joined in conversation by Sandra Sullivan-Dunbar. RSVP and details here

 David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito, Black Maverick: T. R. M. Howard’s Fight for Civil Rights and Economic Power (U of Illinois Press, 2009): A balanced and vivid biography of the civil rights pioneer, orator, supporter of black enterprise, political figure, physician, and abortion provider who spent much of his career in Chicago.


Shirley Chisholm, Unbought and Unbossed (Houghton Mifflin, 1970): This short book was written in 1970, but Chisholm could have written it yesterday. In terms of political deal-making, poverty, racism, and sexism, things have either worsened or changed very little since then. Chisholm was a breath of fresh air, bravely speaking her conscience and the truth regardless of the political consequences--though this book also reveals what a great organizer and smart politician she was.


David J. Garrow, Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe v. Wade (U of California Press, 1998): Maybe not a beach read, but a definitive reference for the legal side of the story of abortion in the second half of the twentieth century.


Cynthia Gorney, Articles of Faith: A Frontline History of the Abortion Wars (Simon & Schuster, 1998): A detailed but engrossing look at the struggle over abortion access through the stories of dedicated activists on both sides in Missouri.


Carole Joffe, Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe v. Wade (Beacon Press, 1996): The stories of abortion providers, largely untold before this book.


E. Patrick Johnson, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South (University of North Carolina Press, 2008): Giving voice to a population too rarely acknowledged, Johnson collects more than sixty life stories from black gay men who were born, raised, and continue to live in the South. These narratives challenge stereotypes of the South as "backward" or "repressive" and offer a window into the ways black gay men negotiate their identities, build community, maintain friendship networks, and find sexual and life partners--often in spaces and activities that appear to be antigay. Ultimately, Sweet Tea validates the lives of these black gay men and reinforces the role of storytelling in both African American and southern cultures.


Laura Kaplan, The Story of Jane: The Legendary Underground Feminist Abortion Service (U of Chicago Press, 1997): The stirring story of how a Chicago feminist abortion referral group discovered that they themselves could provide safe abortions—and did.


Leslie J. Reagan, When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973 (U of California Press, 1998): Abortion was illegal in the U.S. for about a century, but women had abortions throughout that time. Reagan traces the changes in attitudes regarding abortion, its safety and availability, and its legal status.


Jael Silliman, Marlene Gerber Fried, Loretta Ross, and Elena R. Gutiérrez, Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Justice (Haymarket Press, 2004, 2016): Women of color have shifted the discourse from “pro-abortion,” “pro-choice,” and even “reproductive freedom” to “reproductive justice.” Constraining women of color’s reproduction are population and fertility controls, sterilization abuse, long-term and unsafe contraceptives, welfare reform, criminalization of women of color, immigration policies, medical experimentation, and coercive and intrusive family planning policies and programs. While the mainstream movement has focused on a single issue steeped in liberal individualism, these authors document how articulating reproductive issues within culturally specific contexts has been essential to developing resistance, a political agenda, and constituency bases in communities of color.


Daniel K. Williams, Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement before Roe v. Wade (Oxford University Press, 2016): An even-handed look at anti-abortion activism before Roe v. Wade. If you only remember the protests, violence, and strong political influence of pro-life proponents since the 1980s, it's instructive to recall that in the 1960s the pro-life stance articulated by the Catholic Church began to attract many social liberals, anti-war activists, and mostly Democrats.

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