Read Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt Online


A POWERFUL ARGUMENT FOR ABORTION AS A MORAL RIGHT AND SOCIAL GOOD BY A NOTED FEMINIST AND LONGTIME COLUMNIST FOR THE NATIONForty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, "abortion" is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who suppoA POWERFUL ARGUMENT FOR ABORTION AS A MORAL RIGHT AND SOCIAL GOOD BY A NOTED FEMINIST AND LONGTIME COLUMNIST FOR THE NATIONForty years after the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, "abortion" is still a word that is said with outright hostility by many, despite the fact that one in three American women will have terminated at least one pregnancy by menopause. Even those who support a woman's right to an abortion often qualify their support by saying abortion is a "bad thing," an "agonizing decision," making the medical procedure so remote and radioactive that it takes it out of the world of the everyday, turning an act that is normal and necessary into something shameful and secretive. Meanwhile, with each passing day, the rights upheld by the Supreme Court are being systematically eroded by state laws designed to end abortion outright.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....

Title : Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights
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ISBN : 9780312620547
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 258 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights Reviews

  • Thomas
    2019-05-24 01:07

    "Instead of shaming women for ending a pregnancy, we should acknowledge their realism and self-knowledge. We should accept that it's good for everyone if women have only the children they want and can raise well. Society benefits when women can commit to education and work and dreams without having at the back of their mind a concern that maybe it's all provisional, because at any moment an accidental pregnancy could derail them for life. It's good for children to be wanted, and to come into this life when their parents are ready for them. It's good for people to be able to have sexual experiences and know that birth-control failure need not be the last word. It would not make us a better country if more girls and women were nudged and bullied and cajoled and humiliated and frightened into bearing children they are ill-equipped to raise, even if more men could somehow be lassoed into marrying or supporting them. It would simply mean more lost hope, more bad marriages and family misery, more poverty and struggle for women, their partners, and their kids. Don't we have way too much of that already?"In her powerful book Pro, Katha Pollitt creates an airtight argument in favor of abortion and women's rights. She makes her audience clear from the beginning: the "muddled middle," those who approve of abortion in some circumstances but hesitate in others. She discusses the history of abortion, the repercussions of Roe v. Wade, abortion's connection to feminism, and myths that anti-choice individuals use to stigmatize abortion and women in general. Pollitt's thoughtfulness and willingness to delve into abortion opponents' mindsets make Pro an even more compelling read."Terminating a pregnancy is always a women's right and often a deeply moral decision. It is not evil, even a necessary evil. You might make a different decision from a particular woman who chooses not to continue a pregnancy, and you might think your decision is morally superior - but beside the fact that you don't actually know what you would do faced with those exact same circumstances, your judgment about a woman's decision is not relevant to the legal status of abortion as a whole, any more than someone giving a speech you would consider foolish reflects on the First Amendment, or someone voting for a corrupt candidate raises questions about suffrage. A right includes the freedom to use it in ways others find distressing or even wrong. Your judgment of that woman is not even an interesting fact about yourself. There are many things other people do that you think you would never do. That tells us you have a certain idea about yourself, that's all.I wish I could quote almost every passage of this book. One of my main takeaways, out of many, centers on how the argument against abortion always comes back to the devaluing of women, no matter what. Pollitt includes a wealth of statistics, court decisions, and arguments that show how abortion opponents attempt to skirt around and debase women's rights. However, Pollitt highlights - as many feminist writers have done before her - that if we want women to achieve equality in our nation, we need to have abortion. We need to empower women of all races and socioeconomic backgrounds with access to solid sex and reproductive education, and we need to legalize abortion, without restrictions, without consequences, and without stigma. One last quote, just to emphasize how I cannot recommend this book enough:"Pregnant women do such things, and much harder things, all the time. For example, they give birth, which is somewhere on the scale between painful and excruciating. Or they have a cesarean, as I did, which is a major surgery. None of this is without risk of death or damage or trauma, including psychological trauma. To force girls and women to undergo all this against their will is to annihilate their humanity. When they undertake it by choice, we should be grateful. That there is no way to equalize men's contribution to reproduction is all the more reason to honor women for volunteering to go through it on their behalf."

  • Shannon
    2019-04-28 22:02

    Katha Pollitt knows her audience. She knows she is unlikely to sway the opinions of abortion opponents, just as she knows the majority of Pro‘s readers will be pro-choice. But her aim is not to force-feed opinions to anti-choice readers. Instead, Pollitt hopes that Pro will take hold in the “muddled middle”; the space where the majority of Americans sit with hopes of restricting abortion rather than banning it.“It’s as if we think motherhood is the default setting for a woman’s life from first period to menopause, and she needs a note from God not to say yes to every zygote that knocks on her door—even if, like most women who have abortions, including my mother, she already has children. There is deep contempt for women in that—and disregard for the seriousness of motherhood as well."At the center of Pollitt’s argument is the idea that both abortion defenders and opponents use language that describe the procedure as traumatic, tragic and difficult when it is often a clear decision for many women. Young teenage girls, students progressing in degree programs, and mothers unable to provide for a larger family might make the choice to have an abortion with little more than a second thought, like 3 out of 10 women who make the same choice before menopause. Pollitt uses pointed and intelligent discussion to pull together reasons why choosing abortion doesn’t have to be a tragedy, while smartly refuting points about birth control use and adoption as classist and sexist.“If anti-abortion leaders were opposed only to abortion, why would they be so keen to stretch its definition to include the most effective and most popular methods of contraception? Why do they cling to the notion that the Pill causes abortion? Why don’t they welcome recent studies showing that emergency contraception prevents ovulation, not implantation? The fact that they grasp at straws suggests what they really object to is sex without a significant threat of pregnancy and the social changes connected to that.”In sections that cover personhood, the role of women and motherhood as well as the potential for compromise on abortion, I found myself underlining full paragraphs. I picked up Pro from my place as a passionate liberal excited to read great arguments from a position I firmly believe in. I didn’t expect Pollitt to open my eyes to the pro-choice movement’s gray areas and have me seeking volunteer opportunities as soon as I finished. It’s that important. Even if you think I’m a little crazy and Katha Pollitt’s ideas are off the charts, this is the point where I chase after you and tell you to please read this book.Originally posted at

  • mis fit
    2019-05-20 02:13

    I have to confess, I have been slow on the uptake when it comes to realizing how absolutely crucial reproductive justice is for a more free society where all people can develop to their fullest capacities. As a feminist, this gap in my thinking is terrifying! I believe my shortsightedness up to this point reflects mainly two things. First of all, there’s my privilege. As a white, middle-class woman, living in mostly blue states, I haven’t had to personally face many obstacles to accessing healthcare. And second, it illustrates just how successful the anti-abortion movement has been in shaping the conversation surrounding reproductive rights, even for people like myself who are strongly pro-choice.In Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, it becomes apparent that the abortion issue, at the heart of it all, is about the power to control, subordinate, and punish women. And in particular, poor women and women of color. Katha Pollitt does an excellent job untangling the rhetoric and revealing the ways in which anti-abortion arguments mask the issue at hand. She argues that even while abortion opponents claim to care about women, children, and families (aw shucks…), the movement to restrict access to reproductive healthcare punishes women for having sex (in ways that men just aren’t punished for) and devalues motherhood (hey, anybody can raise a child, even a fifteen year old girl with no job and life experience). Not to mention the movement’s indifference towards– or efforts to straight up take money away from– policies meant to ensure the well-being of children that actually already exist.Pollitt’s argument isn’t exactly a new one, but it’s an extremely important one. And this is especially true right now, as abortion opponents are gaining a great deal of ground in restricting access. Some of the most interesting parts of the book are Pollitt’s discussion of the real world implications of criminalizing abortion, as well as the chapters that delve into this issue of personhood. Is a fetus a person? Is a woman a person?What strikes me most though is this question: Why should the course of a woman’s life be drastically altered by a zygote? And to push this one step further, would we expect a man to give up an opportunity to go to college, to have a career, or to take better care of his already existing children, if there were other options for him? No. A man’s (a middle-class, white man’s, that is) right to self-determination is a given in a patriarchal society. Women, in contrast, are still reduced to nothing more than potential baby-makers and are advised to live their lives in accordance with this fate. I am now coming to see how reproductive justice must be central to any liberatory project. The anti-abortion movement’s success in restricting access to reproductive healthcare, and the pro-choice movement’s failure to highlight the positive aspects of access to abortion, are scary and damaging developments that affect everyone, not just women. I definitely recommend Pollitt’s book, especially if you find yourself somewhere in the middle ground on the issue.

  • Michelle
    2019-05-01 03:49

    This book is EVERYTHING. It is everything I think, everything I want to say, everything I feel about abortion, only smarter and funnier. I want every person in America to read this book, whether you are pro-abortion rights or not. Actually, ESPECIALLY if you're not. Because Katha Pollitt breaks down and refutes every anti-abortion argument with clear, reasoned, fantastic language. She re-frames motherhood, and the choice to be a mother or not, in an extraordinary way. It is, to my mind, the definitive work of our generation on the subject, and it needs to be required reading for every woman's studies scholar, for every medical and nursing student, for every law student, social worker, and legislator. I'm planning to get my master's in bioethics and public health with a focus in reproductive ethics, and this will be my North Star. Brilliant.

  • Abby
    2019-05-23 02:15

    “In the end, abortion is an issue of fundamental human rights. To force women to undergo pregnancy and childbirth against their will is to deprive them of the right to make basic decisions about their lives and well-being, and to give that power to the state. Moreover, the logic of the anti-abortion movement makes all pregnant women less than full citizens, including those who want to have a baby, because it places the supposed interests of the fetus ahead of the woman’s own interests and deprives her of her rights granted to everyone else: to make one’s own medical decisions and to receive equal treatment under the law.”Brava, Katha Pollitt. This book got me fired up, in a way that I didn't expect, about the vital importance of preserving safe, legal, accessible abortion access to US women. Her arguments are decisive, convincing, and thorough, and in a relatively short space, she represents--and convincingly counters--the anti-abortion arguments. At the end of the day, anti-abortion activists are anti-reproductive rights and anti-women. That's all there is to it. This book is an essential testament to the freedoms that we must preserve, as a country that purports to value women as human beings under the law. Highly, highly recommended, especially to those who find themselves in the "muddled middle" when it comes to abortion rights. If you don't know what you believe about abortion rights, consider Pollitt's stance. I wager that you will find yourself inspired and impressed by her thoughtfulness and persuasive humanity.

  • Holly
    2019-04-25 01:50

    Finished this on November 7th. Suddenly became even more relevant on November 8th.

  • Katie Klabusich
    2019-05-22 00:55

    Read this book. The unapologetic reframing of issues around abortion and reproductive healthcare had me cheering from almost the first page through the last like I was watching a sporting event. I hope the author will forgive me from marking it up in dramatic fashion. Whether you're new to reproductive rights or just getting involved or are simply tired of uterus-having humans dominating your elected officials' to-do lists and want them to move on to something more productive, this book is for you. Get some history, get some snarky responses to common anti-choice talking points and finish feeling inspired and invigorated.

  • Steve
    2019-05-10 03:02

    This is an important book, in that: 1) It makes clear that abortion is common, and destroys stereotypes about those who seek abortion: by menopause 3 in 10 women will have terminated at least one pregnancy; excluding miscarriages, 21% of pregnancies end in abortion; around 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers and 70% are poor, or low-income.2) It destroys the myth that churches are united against abortion: in the years leading up to Roe, legalization under some circumstances was endorsed by the Union for Reform Judaism, the Southern Baptist Convention, the National Association of Evangelicals, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and others3) It clarifies that "Pro-Life" adherents are not as unified as we are led by the MSM to believe - 84% of us support abortion to save the life of the woman, but only 64% approve of it if the woman's mental health is at stake, and only 25% approve of it if having a child would interfere with the woman's career. And these statistics reveal that we object not so much to the abortion as we do to society relinquishing control over what a woman can do with her life.4) It demolishes the notion that the embryo and the adult women who carry such embryos have equal standing as "persons."5) It makes clear, as few other books I've read on the subject have, that controlling access to abortion is primarily about controlling women: their social and sexual lives; their professional education; their ability to have their children when they are most professionally and financially able to raise them; their ability, in short, to lead a directed life as freely as men are accustomed to.6) It points out such "Pro-Life" contradictions as the one - on the one hand - wanting to deny abortions women who unintentionally become pregnant, while - on the other hand - working to keep good family planning and birth control information, which could drastically cut such unintentional pregnancies, out of the schools. 7) It is thoroughly footnoted, and contains a bibliography for "further reading."

  • Megan
    2019-05-07 02:50

    Finally, a book that might give me the courage to say what I've believed for a long time but been reluctant to speak: that abortion should be legal in every circumstance, on demand, at any time, no questions asked. Pollitt argues here that instead of being a tragedy, abortion is in fact a social good--that women getting what they want in their lives, whether it be a healthy relationship, an education, a job, or just a slightly easier and calmer life, is GOOD. And it's not just good for the women--it benefits everyone! Especially the later children that many of those women do go on to bear--at their own time, when it is right for them. I can't say enough about how neatly and incisively this book dismantles every weak argument against abortion and exposes the anti-choice movement for what it really is--a movement that denigrates and mistrusts women, and aims to set their progress back decades.

  • Danielle
    2019-05-02 02:19

    Katha Pollitt is a very clear and understandable writer, and she breaks down the complications of the abortion debate and shines a light on what "pro-life" means in practical terms here, and why pro-choice voters need to bring the same passion to the argument that (mostly religious, mostly conservative) anti-abortion campaigners have been bringing for decades. Abortions happen, and that's not a bad thing. Giving women the decision of when and how they become mothers is necessary for equal rights, and it's good that women have this choice.

  • Leslie Ann
    2019-05-01 03:59

    I am firmly pro-choice - not a member of the "muddled middle" for whom this book is written - so am familiar with many of the arguments described in this book (e.g., anti-abortion groups are not really fighting for the rights of fetuses, but for the subjugation of women). I have not, however, followed this issue closely over the years, so did not realize the extent to which abortion rights have been eroded, or how Roe v. Wade - which Pollitt suggests as a compromise in the abortion wars - has itself been compromised. Indeed, even though the landmark abortion case was decided over 40 years ago, it seems more socially acceptable to come out as a homosexual than to say one had an abortion. I am giving the book 5 stars because it is a well-written book on a crucial topic. Pollitt makes a strong case for reclaiming abortion as a reproductive right that is necessary for the economic health of women, and ultimately, society. I think, however, the book would have benefited from a concise description of the Roe vs. Wade decision, as well as a list of pro-choice resources. Some memorable passages: In every other area of life, we praise careful consideration, intentionality, and weighing of options. We don't decide whom to marry, what kind of work to do, where to life by simply acquiescing to chance and calling it fate. We don't turn those decisions over to others - certainly not to state legislators or judges...Motherhood is the last area in which the qualities we usually value - rationality, independent thinking, consulting our own best interests, planning for a better, more prosperous future, and dare I say it, pursuing happiness and dreams - are condemned as frivolity and selfishness.Even as abortion becomes more and more restricted, gun rights expand...Is this because the gun culture is predominantly male and we don't judge men's choices as much?...Maybe abortion is different not because it's uniquely grave but because it's about women. It's one of the few decisions that by law only a woman makes as long as she is of age, and that means everyone can pile on.When you consider the way restrictions on abortion go hand in hand with cutbacks in social programs and stymied gender equality it is hard not to suspect that the aim is to put woman and children back under male control by making it impossible for them to survive outside it.For motherhood to truly be part of human flourishing, it has to be voluntary, and raising children - by both parents - has to be supported by society as necessary human work. Motherhood should add to a woman's ability to lead a full life, not leave her on the sidelines, wondering how she got there. For this to happen the old paradigms have to go: pregnancy as the punishment for sex, and women as endurers of fate or God's will, biologically destined to a lesser life and needing a man to survive. But even in feminist heaven, there will be abortion, as there is in even the most prosperous, enlightened countries in the world. Because life will always be complicated, there is no perfect contraception, and there are no perfect people, either. We need to be able to say that is all right.

  • Ally P
    2019-05-18 23:19

    "Perhaps we don't see abortion [as an act of self defense] because we don't think women have the right to a self. They are supposed to live for others. Qualities that are seen as normal and desirable in men - ambition, confidence, outspokenness - are perceived as selfish and aggressive in women...Perhaps that is why privacy has so little purchase on the abortion debate: Only a self can have privacy. Only a self can have equality."

  • Alison
    2019-05-19 02:17

    Just based upon the title alone, It's clear that this is a book for people who are pro-choice but are perhaps a bit muddled in their views. It’s a well written and researched book that’s smart and funny (my favorite traits for a book). In it, Pollitt openly discusses the issues associated our society has with abortion. This feels so radical because it's not a conversation we're used to hearing. We tend to assign themes of good versus evil and stigmatize women if they come forward as having an abortion. Pollitt points out that abortion is a common experience with 3 in 10 women having one. And those who do have abortion, about two thirds are mothers already and have them early in pregnancy. She follows opponents' arguments through to the end, asking sensible questions like: If abortion was illegal, how would the state regulate it? Would women have to be on trial? Or if there were exceptions to the law in regards to rape or incest, how would a woman prove it? How much right to life do women have? How much personhood? All these questions support Pollitt's central argument that those 'pro-life' aren't so much interested about regulating abortion but rather regulating a woman's sexuality and her role in society.As I’m getting older, I’m starting to take a stand for my views and be more willing to share them. And I think that’s the point of the whole book. Engage with others about your views. And have facts (of which there are plenty in this book) to support your views. Conversations with facts empowers both the individual and the conversation as a whole.

  • Elizabeth Benedict
    2019-05-20 00:49

    This is a vital book that everyone who cares about women's health, rights, and the state of the land should read. It's incredibly deftly written, full of wit, insight, warmth, great information, and a clear perspective, after so many years of listening to such garbage and such hysteria from the anti-choice/anti-abortion/anti-women crowd who are running the entire country, it seems - at least the majority of the Supreme Court and the Congress. It has become a sad commonplace that the only "legit" abortions are the ones by married women who have medical problems or fetal problems. That's the "OK" abortion to mention. But if you are having one "just" because you are unable to be a mother at that point, you are trashed and considered selfish and immoral/amoral. Pollitt makes the points that have gotten lost in this anti-choice propaganda: People are imperfect. Shit happens. Fathers leave, leaving pregnant women without support. Contraceptions don't work. Women who have abortions often have children and simply cannot afford to have more. This is a social good. Abortion should be safe, legal, affordable, and available. Thank you, Katha Pollitt, for writing this important book! P.S. I hardly ever read nonfiction.

  • Tamara Vallejos
    2019-04-23 20:15

    "For those who are troubled by America's high abortion rate, the good news is that we already know what will lower it: more feminism. More justice. More equality. More freedom. More respect."The best book I've read all year, and a must-read for the majority. An amazing book that so logically, factually, and engagingly clears up myths, provides statistics, challenges our contradictions, and makes a passionate and thorough argument for championing the role of motherhood in America, in a way that actually serves families well—and doesn't just pay lip service to some nebulous concept.I came into this thinking I was pretty solid on my pro-choice stance, and came out of it realizing I'd still been incredibly hypocritical and swayed by emotional appeals rather than fact when it came to certain elements of the discussion. Katha Pollitt is a fantastic writer, and her rhetoric is nothing short of eye-opening. I feel like I will need to buy this book (rather than checking it out from the library as I did) and reread it frequently, as there is so much to take from it. I cannot recommend it enough.

  • Sherreka Burton
    2019-05-14 22:13

    Review: Definitely another well-thought out book by Ms. Pollitt. She really helped me to firm up my beliefs on abortion. I originally thought that I knew what my stance was, but it turns out I was completely wishy-washy in my thinking. Now I’m 100% for abortion, without any reservations or moral imputations from a legal standpoint. This book was also a lot easier to read than Virginity or Death!. Favorite Essay/Thought Process: “What Do Americans Think About Abortion?” This chapter was the one that really called me out on my own BS. Favorite Quote: I basically want to quote from several pages of this book, but I’ll stick to the one that personally holds the most weight in my mind: “Abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it’s not a good idea to bring them into the world.” (pg. 16) Other pages of noteworthy information: 33, 43, 62-63, 73, 93, 196, 198-9. Recommend? Definitely. Re-read? Yes, I also need a personal copy (or copies) to hand out in front of abortion clinics to the idiots with signs.

  • Sarah
    2019-05-05 00:09

    I have to give Katha Politt credit for trying – she pulls out all the stops to defend the pro-choice position. Unfortunately, she is unable to defend the indefensible. One problem is that she equates the pro-life movement with the Republican Party, it is a distortion. The Republican Party has interests that are different from and often opposed to the right to life movement. Just because the Republican Party has a breeze the pro-life position does not mean that pro-lifers unilaterally accept all of the things that Republicans stand for – and many pro-lifers lean Democrat or more liberal than she paints them as. She uses many of the standard pro-choice arguments, but I really found her arguments to be pro-abortion – she urges complete acceptance of abortion, including late-term abortion, interviews are far more radical than that of most Americans.

  • Alexandria Siddiqui
    2019-05-03 01:12

    I have to say out of all the pro-choice material I have read, this one tops it. Katha has examined every single angle and argument, not just by opinion, but has used proper statistics, research and peer reviews by OBY/Gyns on abortion, pregnancy and childbirth. No stone was left un-turned. She looked at and examined things I never even considered within the issues surrounding abortion and pointed out so many inconsistencies, flaws and hypocrisy that makes up the anti-choice movement. She is one of the few pro-choicers that has pointed out the flaws in our own movement, our weak and pathetic attempts at emotional downplay and portraying the woman as a sympathetic figure because of rape, health problems or poverty. While these themes were addressed, she made no compromises and made it clear abortion does not have to be justified to anyone, that the majority of abortions are done because women simply don't want children However the best parts is she proves with statistics, evidence and contextual quotes that the anti-choice are about control, moral sex police and are indirect racists. My favorite parts of the book is when she points the fallacy in the arguments when anti choice groups claim abortion is murder. She makes it clear even before abortion a million women per year in the USA still sought out abortions and if the anti choice want to be consistent, how do we even begin the inquisitions and punishments into a million murderesses per year. I loved most how she defended black women. With racist billboards saying the most dangerous place for a black child is in the womb and the same on social media, she has pointed out that anti choice have accused black women of being the 'real' murderers and perpetrators of slavery. However she pointed out one of the biggest tactics I wasn't aware of until now. I don't know why I never saw it sooner, but it was so obvious. That the anti-choice movement has gone away from shaming the women for having sex (to some degree) to pretending they are trying to protect the women by betraying women as 'abortions victims' as women 'don't understand what they are doing' and are 'unable to make decisions about their bodies.' It is a cheap and sly game and it has worked. The anti-choice movement is so powerful that it has created a culture where nearly everyone believes women are too stupid to make decisions about their bodies and that they must be helped hence the unnecessary ultrasounds, reading scripts about fetuses and mandatory waiting periods before abortion. And for the icing on the cake, she has pointed out how most republicans have cut welfare programs mainly directed at helping low income struggling women and children, access to birth control and still want to keep the culture where women are merely hostesses and state property. Finally is the typical part about how men are easily let off the hook, not only with getting out of unwanted pregnancy, but how they don't face the same stigmas when it comes to sex, viagra or medical checks. I have to say I was so thoroughly impressed with the book especially the credible references and research that it has made me rethink my stance as a pro-choice supporter and realize this whole anti-abortion movement isn't in the end about protecting unborn fetuses, but keeping women under control, at economic disadvantage and under the power of men.

  • Lynne Premo
    2019-05-20 19:59

    About 2 chapters into Pro, I thought to myself how much I would like to send the book to each and every member of the Louisiana state legislature and force them to read it, a la A Clockwork Orange. Everything she wrote just made so much sense, about power, women, healthcare, quality of life, and so on. She tied together in one bundle all of the various surveys, research, ideas, and commentary that have been put forth regarding reproductive justice issues. Everything she said made sense! Then I realized that my idea would never work because the other side does not traffic in facts or reason but rather emotion, propaganda, and subterfuge. You can’t reason with unreasonable people. I came to the understanding that Pro isn’t really targeted at the pro-forced-birth contingent, but rather the opposite side of the aisle. Pollitt presents a case for, pardon my use of jargon, reframing issues of abortion and reproductive justice and not running away from the pro-abortion label. Honesty is called for rather than attempts at managing public relations. Time to shout out that abortion is about healthcare, economics, and, above all, the right to self-determination. Slut shaming and outright lies need to be called out whenever they occur and by whomever. The last two paragraphs sum up her thesis (which is sort of the point of a concluding statement, isn’t it?): “For those who are troubled by America’s high abortion rate, the good news is that we already know what will lower it: more feminism. More justice. More equality. More freedom. More respect. Women should have what they need both to avoid unwanted pregnancy and childbirth and to have wanted children. For motherhood to truly be part of human flourishing, it has to be voluntary, and raising children—by both parents—has to be supported by society as necessary human work. Motherhood should add to a woman’s ability to lead a full life, not leave her on the sidelines, wondering how she got there.For this to happen, the old paradigms have to go: pregnancy as the punishment for sex, and women as endurers of fate or God’s will, biologically destined to a lesser life and needing a man to survive. But even in feminist heaven, there will be abortion, as there is in even the most prosperous, enlightened countries in the world. Because life will always be complicated, there is no perfect contraception, and there are no perfect people either. We need to be able to say that is all right.”My one beef with the book: its lack of an index. Non-indexed nonfiction works make my head hurt.

  • Laura Lawson
    2019-05-04 03:08

    I would recommend this to anyone who believes to any extent in a woman's right to choose. There is a strong tendency to approach highly charged (of which this is among the most highly charged) issues by seeking a "moderate" position. In the case of abortion, seeking compromise ignores the fact that compromise is already built into American law. Roe v. Wade already balances the interests of the pregnant woman and the state's interest in regulating abortions as the pregnancy moves forward. Therefore, the self-titled "moderate" position and talking points such as "safe, legal and rare" have essentially devolved into bemoaning abortion as a wrong in general. Beyond that, seeking a moderate position typically involves pontificating about the circumstances where a woman might seek an abortion and deciding in what circumstances (responsible! blameless!) a woman might deserve to exercise this right. This tends to take the discussion to very sexist places, obviously. As Pollitt strongly points out, abortion is a very common experience for women, three in ten have one. So, most people know a woman who has had one, probably several. Contrary to what is often imagined, most of the women who have an abortion already have children. But the shaming and what Pollitt calls "awfulization" of abortion drive these experiences underground. Conventional wisdom is that many women regret what is pretended to be a difficult choice. In reality, most women who have had an abortion (most of which occur very early in the pregnancy ) feel it is what was right for them and their family at the time. As Pollitt points out, thirty years of regulating one's fertility on a monthly basis, in the context of sexual relationships and imperfect contraception options, is quite a task. Pollitt says we need to stop apologizing for abortion and embrace it as a positive right necessary for women's equality. I agree.

  • Bree Ervin
    2019-05-20 00:52

    This is such an important book. Katha Pollitt takes a calm look at the state of abortion rights in America and points out where we've gone astray. She speaks directly to the people who believe that abortion should be legal in some circumstances, but maybe not all circumstances and discusses both the history and repercussions of this stance.She brings in facts, data and examples of how policy in the capital affects real people at home.She asks us all to re-examine our ideas about abortion as a culture war issue, and start to reframe it as an urgent, practical issue that has ripple effects into other issues such as the economy.I wish I could buy everyone a copy and get them to actually read it - such a calm and compassionate look at what has become an all too contentious issue.

  • hannah
    2019-05-15 23:04

    i was all set to give it only 4 stars, reasoning that while i had enjoyed it, i'd felt at times like pollitt was preaching to the choir. the last chapter, though - the one called "reframing motherhood" - the last chapter i want to read over and over again, to relive those moments of whispering, yes, to myself on the bus, blinking away tears. i want to shove it under people's noses, indicting them for the myriad ways they capitulate to (or enforce) women's state-sanctioned status as less than fully human.this book is excellent. this book is a rallying cry, and i intend to answer it.

  • Jane
    2019-04-27 22:18

    Excellent. I wish I could remember at least a quarter of her points, in future arguments.

  • Julie Ehlers
    2019-05-18 03:19

    Well, that was an interesting reading experience. Review to come.

  • Tracy
    2019-04-28 01:07

    “Pro, Reclaiming Abortion Rights”, a just-published book by Katha Pollitt, could just as easily have been called “Because Women’s Lives Matter,” adopting the phrase used in the aftermath of the Ferguson shooting. Framing reproductive rights as a Civil Right must be asserted if we are to successfully combat the increasing prohibitions against not only abortion but even birth control.“Pro” is also a book about civil rights for women who choose to have children. This task – so crucial to the survival of humanity – is horribly maligned by our economic and political policies that make parenting extremely difficult if not impossible for many poor women and/or women who want to also fulfill their lives with careers outside the home. Pollitt spends many pages in the book describing women’s rights to raise children in a society that truly values motherhood with equal pay laws, child care subsidies, access to health care and education, family planning guidance, and respect for the work women do in and out of the home.“Pro” is an unapologetic and well-researched book about the right of a woman to make reproductive choices based on her unique needs, which is precisely the compromise made when the Supreme Court issued its decision in Roe v Wade. This basic right for the sex of our species that gets impregnated from the widely practiced sex act underlies all other rights that women have. If she can’t control her body, how can she ever control her wages, her career, her family, or any other aspect of her life?However, this fundamental right of women to lead their own lives is exactly what so offends the patriarchy that still largely governs public and private life on this planet. See, the anti-choice movement is not about protecting life; it is about controlling women’s lives. More specifically, disallowing her to have reproductive freedom keeps her in a position of lesser power in society and in the home. As one woman stated in a Playboy interview published in 1970 before Roe v Wade, “I feel like I don’t have to be declared nutty to make up for the fact that my diaphragm didn’t work. I refuse to go through this humiliating process.” At that time, before the Supreme Court legalized abortion nationwide, some women in some circumstances in some states could still have a legal abortion. She had to prove she was mentally unstable to a court. Or she had to have enough money to get an illegal abortion at a provider willing to skirt the law at the right price. Or have access to any of the women’s support network that existed to enable a woman to not have to give birth because she conceived. Legalization of abortion has little effect on the number of abortions women have. In fact one million American women had abortions each year before Roe. The same number of women have abortions today, but under the safety of legality. Furthermore it is safer for a woman to abort than to carry the fetus to full term. Only .6 in 100,000 women die as a result of abortions- compared to 8.8 women per 100,000 who die of child birth. This liability is the reason why most health insurance plans covered abortion before it became an issue with Obamacare. According to the National Institutes of Health “Legal induced abortion is markedly safer than childbirth.” The decision to bear a child is among the most significant decisions women make. And since women, who by nature and evolution, are the sex that are equipped to do this, it must be women who are enabled to make a decision as a personal choice. As Pollitt puts in her crucial book, let women decide. Women’s right to decide for themselves when and if having a child is good for her and her family and for society. This is why Roe is such an important decision for human rights. It leaves the issue a private matter.

  • Alessandra Trindle
    2019-05-12 23:57

    My husband gave me a copy of "Pro" as a holiday gift. At first glance, it didn't seem to be anything I *needed* to read. I'm strongly pro-choice and believe that reproductive rights belong first, and foremost, to women. My uterus is not a political poll or a legislative vote.I went into it, thinking that a light perusal would be enough and that I could put it down and move onto something else after thirty minutes or so. Instead, on page 8, I found myself struck dumb by this sentence: "It's just that hard to see women as belonging to themselves."Think about that sentence. Breathe it in, exhale, breathe again. We women have autonomy in everything else, except our own bodies. How ridiculous that fact is when you look at men and the corporeal choices they're allowed to make without comment. Pollitt calmly and factually (with foot-notes and everything!) dismantles the abortion opponents' arguments, one point at a time. She talks about abortion as clearly as if giving a stock market report, with sentiments such as, "We need to talk about abortion in its full human setting: sex and sexuality, love, violence, privilege, class, race, school and work, men, the scarcity of excellent, respectful reproductive healthcare, and of realistic accurate information about sex and reproduction."Reclaiming the argument, she then goes on to address the "muddled middle", those who don't want to deny abortion altogether, but who want waiting periods or limited windows for the procedure or anything else that prevents a woman from being able to make a full choice to continue with or terminate her pregnancy. She talks about reproductive healthcare and how it has been decimated in many states. She talks about how abortion opponents do everything in their power to shame women for having sex. If they were truly "pro-life", they'd not put restrictions on birth control. Or they'd give women with small children more options in childcare/work/life balance. She reminds us that sexuality is not a sin. It is natural and a part of human existence.She asked a question that I've often asked: "What is so virtuous about adding another child to the ones you're already overwhelmed by?" She says, "We tend to think of abortion as anti-child and anti-motherhood...Actually abortion is part of being a mother and of caring for children, because part of caring for children is knowing when it's not a good idea to bring them into the world."I'm going to stop there. I haven't even gotten past page thirty with quoting her. My strong recommendation is that you find "Pro:Reclaiming Abortion Rights" and read it with an open mind. It may or may not change your position, but it will definitely give you plenty to think about as you read.

  • Jordan
    2019-05-19 23:12

    Why I marked this as to-read:Short version: A review of it in Time Magazine convinced me.One of the biggest problems about our cultural and societal relationship with the concept of abortion it is that it is so difficult to discuss about frankly and openly. I have found that factors including our political climate, our culture, and our own (or other people's) emotions, can quickly make what should be one of the most urgent and important discussions we can have become an unproductive and tiresome discussion at best, and a hurtful and dangerous one at worst. Yet I believe this topic is too important to not be able to talk about productively.At least for myself, this is something I would like to come to terms with and become more comfortable learning about and discussing more openly. I thought this book would be a good starting place for me, as this author struck me as someone who has really thought this through and would have a lot of wise things to say on the topic.The book also strikes me as remarkably not-sensationalized which is a tricky thing to pull off for a book discussing such a hotbutton topic. I hope the content holds up to my initial perception.Hopefully I can read this in the next year or so.

  • Kelsey Myers
    2019-05-04 02:51

    I've always considered myself pro-choice, so I was a bit afraid that this book would be preaching to the choir and I wouldn't get anything new from it besides a few updated statistics. I was completely wrong. This book is a must-read for any dedicated pro-choicer or the "muddle middle" as Katha Pollitt refers to them. It is highly unlikely this book will change the mind of anyone from the pro-life viewpoint, since it would certainly come across as condescending to those who already disagree (my only complaint with the book), but it has completely reaffirmed my own viewpoint and then some. Through meticulous arguments and research, Pollitt has convinced me that we need to stop apologizing for abortion and making women feel terrible for getting one. We need to realize that abortion, and even birth control, are not guarantees despite their legality, and it is far past time for the "sleeping giant" of the pro-choice movement to wake up. I will definitely be sharing this book with everyone in my life.

  • Elliott
    2019-05-10 00:49

    It's about damn time that someone as eloquent and persuasive as Katha Pollitt puts out a book like this that so succinctly cuts down the anti-choice/anti-woman right wing argument on abortion. Pollitt shows that the "controversy" around abortion is not, nor has ever been a "moral" issue about life, rather it's the ancient argument about where a woman's place is in the world. For the right wing that place is firmly within the home sphere: keeping the household, having children, diligently obeying their husband on every whim. Abortion, which upsets the traditional patriarchal privilege of mandating reproduction is opposed for the leveling effect it has on society. In other words anti-choicers hate equality, and specifically they hate the idea of women achieving some closer parity to men. I can't say that this book convinced me of anything since I've always been pro-choice anyway, but it's got excellent arguments, excellent research, and its written brilliantly.

  • Kathrin
    2019-04-25 01:01

    I found this a well organized book that tackled the individual points of the anti abortion movement in an accessible way. It really reiterated on multiple occasions that while on the surface the pro life movement wants to save the unborn it is mostly a moral judgement on the perceived promiscuity of women. The author is also questioning over and over where is the responsibility and the moral judgement of the men that were involved in the child making... spoiler alert: there is no moral judgement on the dudes. It also makes a great case of more access to affordable contraception and proper sex education. While this book is not going to sway the opinion of pro lifers or pro choices in any way, I think it can really educate the people in the middle that are not 100% sure where they stand on the issue.