Even among pro-choice groups, the message of the anti-choice movement has gained traction. Liberal politicians are afraid to talk about abortion, and loath to laud it as a moral good. At best, it’s a shameful secret. It’s something women are allowed to do, but only because there’s no other choice. The pro-choice movement has forgotten the moral argument for abortion. These five books remind readers that the pro-choice movement should loudly and proudly claim the moral high ground as its rightful property.
Why We Need a Moral Argument for Abortion
Despite clinic bombings and doctor assassinations, and ignoring evidence that when abortion is illegal, women die, the anti-choice movement has consistently marketed itself as the only moral choice. The pro-choice movement has largely accepted this marketing. To choice advocates, abortion is a tragedy, a hard decision, and inevitably painful. Yet many women don’t find the decision to have an abortion painful at all. Some don’t grieve. Some feel exuberant and free after an abortion. And almost all abortion seekers have no idea how they’d survive if they were forced to give birth. Abortion clinics are doing moral work. Providers should not have to feel ashamed.
It’s time for the choice movement to highlight these stories. We know that women are denied abortions, they live in poverty. They remain in abusive relationships. They face mental illness. Their lives matter, too. Yet to anti-choicers, women considering abortions are just temporary baby containers. And the babies? When they’re born, they’re on their own, too. If you want to remind yourself why you’re a choice advocate, check out one of these excellent reads:
This cogently argued book explains why choice advocates should be proud of their advocacy. Katha Pollitt, long-time columnist and cultural critic, lambastes those who believe abortion to be a shameful but necessary choice, and reminds readers that abortion is an issue of bodily autonomy, justice, and belief in women’s equal humanity.
Dr. Willie Parker is a zealous anti-choice activist who became an abortion provider. He chronicles his experiences on both sides of the issue. Parker makes a compelling argument for the morality of abortion, and presents abortion providers as loving figures who guide women through life’s most difficult decisions.
Furedi’s book makes a sweeping philosophical argument for abortion. Drawing upon the ethical tradition of bodily autonomy and surveying the landscape of philosophical morality, Furedi concludes that a pro-choice conviction is the only morally acceptable one.
Loretta Ross, a founder of the SisterSong reproductive justice collective, argues that choice doesn’t go far enough. Access to abortion and other reproductive options is about more than legalized choice, particularly for poor women and women of color. Ross argues for a model of reproductive justice that improves access to all choices–including the choice of motherhood–for all women, not just those with a slice of cultural power.
Wicklund weaves a tale of life as an abortion doctor that is part autobiography and part ethnography. Her stories highlight the tragic, the beautiful, and the absurd driving women’s reproductive choices. Her book humanizes the abortion debate, and makes clear that an anti-choice ethos rejects the humanity of women who need abortions.