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Creating Choice: A Community Responds to the Need for Abortion and Birth Control, 1961-1973 (Palgrave Studies in Oral History)by David P. Cline
Synopses & Reviews
"Before Roe v. Wade, somewhere between one and two million illegal abortions were performed every year in the United States. Illegal abortion affected millions of women and their families, yet their stories remain hidden. In Creating Choice , citizens of one community in Western Massachusetts' Pioneer Valley break that silence. Doctors, clergy, and members of feminist women's collectives in the Pioneer Valley provided access to birth control (illegal in the state for single women until 1972) and abortions. Their work was done in defiance of the law, sometimes in secret, but often surprisingly openly. These activists felt they had no choice but to defy the laws and often met with support from surprising places, like university administrators, church officials, and the local police department. In Creating Choice , you'll meet a college chaplain moved to break the law after one of his students died of a back alley abortion and another hung herself; you'll meet a waitress who performed over 1,500 illegal abortions in her pink bathtub; and you'll meet the women themselves who risked their very lives."
Focusing on one Massachusetts community, David Cline uses the personal stories of those who sought abortions and of birth control and the health care professionals, clergy members, and feminist activists who helped them to reexamine the contentious history of reproductive rights in America in the last thirty years. His work brings together interviews with a variety of individuals--college chaplain moved to activism after one of his students died from a botched backalley abortion and another hung herself because of an unwanted pregnancy; members of women's collectives who ferried women to abortion clinics across state lines in a kind of modern Underground Railroad; a waitress who performed over 1,500 illegal abortions in her bathtub; and the women themselves who risked their lives. This fascinating collection is a much-needed contribution to recent scholarship on the reproductive rights movement as well as being an important new work of community oral history.
About the Author
David P. Cline is an oral historian and journalist. He has worked for American Radio Works, the documentary division of National Public Radio, and currently serves as a Research Assistant at the Southern Oral History Program at the Center for the Study of the American South, University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill.
Table of Contents
Foreword--Dr. Joyce Berkman and Dr. Susan Tracy * Introduction--David Cline * Part I: The Women: Survivors of Illegal Abortions * Elizabeth Myer * Robin Dizard * Jean Baxter * Carol C. Wall * Meredith Michaels * Susan Tracy * Part II: Providers of Reproductive Health Care * Dr. Merrit Garland, Jr., M.D * Dr. Sam Topal , M.D. * Dr. Robert Gage, M.D. * Dr. Jane Zapka, Ph.D. * Lawrence Siddall, Ed.D. * Lorraine Florio * Part III: The Clergy and their Allies * Reverend Richard Unsworth * Reverend Samuel M. Johnson * Reverend Franklin A. Dorman * Rabbi Yechaiel Lander * Elaine Fraser * Ruth Fessenden * Part IV: The Feminists: Feminist Lay Abortion Counselors * Amherst Women's Liberation's Abortion and Birth Control Group * Springfield Women's Heath Counseling * Part V: The Connectors: Uniting Medical Care, Activism and Feminism * Merry Boone * Ellen Story * Leslie Tarr Laurie *
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