Abortion Without Apology
December 2, 2019
Posted by Meaghan Winter
Discussed in this essay: Without Apology: The Struggle for Abortion Now, by Jenny Brown. Verso, 2019. 208 pages.
IN 1969, THE NEW YORK CITY HEALTH DEPARTMENT hosted a panel of 15 speakers—14 men and one nun—to discuss the possibility of creating narrow exceptions to New York’s strict anti-abortion laws for women who had been raped or faced other special circumstances. In the midst of the proceedings, an action group from the feminist organization New York Radical Women stood up to dispute the event’s very premise. The protesters shouted that they did not want to bicker over exceptions to sexist laws that controlled women’s lives; they wanted full reproductive freedom. A month later, the action group—now known as Redstockings—held its own hearing. There, 12 women, addressing an audience of several hundred, talked about their abortions. This abortion speak-out, the first of its kind, helped draw conversations about abortion, long shrouded in secrecy and shame, into the public sphere.