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PRO by Katha Pollitt


Reclaiming Abortion Rights

by Katha Pollitt

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-312-62054-7
Publisher: Picador

A pro-choice proponent delivers a dramatic, persuasive argument for abortion.

Feminist poet and award-winning Nation essayist Pollitt (The Mind-Body Problem: Poems, 2009, etc.) succinctly delivers a personalized perspective on an issue that has always been a magnet for controversy. The author believes it is time for an expansive and fair-minded discussion in order to “put abortion back into its context, which is the lives and bodies of women, but also the lives of men, and families, and the children those women already have or will have.” Bolstered by dramatic statistics (“excluding miscarriages, 21 percent of pregnancies end in abortion”), personal interviews and historical references reaching as far back as ancient Greece and Egypt, Pollitt impressively makes her case while admitting that abortion clinics have become increasingly inaccessible and certain “pronatalist pundits” are holding women’s intimately private pregnancy decisions up for public scrutiny. The opposition has definitely made itself known, she asserts, and their movement has gained momentum in recent years. Abortion opponents have reframed their positions, swiveling away from the sexual morality core points to issues of bodily protection concerning a woman’s unborn “zygote/embryo/fetus” and to accusations of “murder.” Pollitt believes the anti-abortion movement has become both physically assaultive and gender-restrictive, stifling the authority women have gained across decades. Aside from discussing the American consensus on abortion rights and dispelling its associated myths, the author structures her arguments around absolutists who base their viewpoints on theocratic religious beliefs, political affiliations, flawed medical information or a general resistance to the progress of women’s liberation movements. She considers abortion an “urgent practical decision that is just as moral as the decision to have a child” and issues a passionate plea for the kind of deep social change necessary to destigmatize it.

Pollitt’s cogent opinion presents potent testimony on a woman’s right to choose.