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."
"An important collection of edited interviews . . . By recovering the participation of clergy and medical practitioners in the reproductive choice struggle, Cline reminds readers of the many kinds of people, organizations, and activities that combine to make a social movement."--Oral History Review "David Cline has assembled an amazingly rich repository of testimonies chronicling a community's efforts to facilitate reproductive autonomy at a time when the state prohibited such activities. This work is a major contribution to the project of preserving and disseminating the histories of activism, feminism, and reproductive politics in the United States."--Rickie Solinger, author of Pregnancy and Power: A Short History of Reproductive Politics in America (2005) and other books "A powerful document of the history of abortion before and after legalization, this book offers a compelling collection of oral history interviews that weave together the story of abortion in an entire community. Creating Choice gives voice to a group of people whose stories are crucial to our understanding of women's history but who have so far not been heard. This collection is not only crucial to students of the history of abortion. It provides an equally rare look into the history of the sexual revolution and the women's health movement on college campuses. Creating Choice is wonderfully accessible, an important collection for anybody trying to understand the history of women and sexuality."--Johanna Schoen, University of Iowa
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 *