Here´s the thing I learned about reading nonfiction books: there are some pretty good books about topics, which have been covered countless times, but still are able to offer unique points. Then, there are books which are written to blow our socks off; just like Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century. These books provide incredible number of new information, perspectives and are important stones for further works.
So here´s what I have learned while reading like Women against Abortion: Antiabortion supporters of the past were happy with spreading alarming news regarding an uprising of teenage pregnancy without taking into account also demographic changes, such as men coming back to their homelands after the war leading to postwar baby boom. There were general concerns about potential costs having teenage mothers, dependent solely on welfare public programs supporting their livelihood, but also just plain panic about rates of teenagers engaging in sexual activities and getting abortions. Some particular, very active members of pro-life movement tried to find ways how to redirect money used for comprehensive sex education programs to various charities and churches promoting abstinence before marriage, and their agenda included counseling against birth control and abortion. Incredible as it may seem, some people believed that created ignorance, fueled by religion and self-discipline techniques really can somehow help against teenage pregnancy in a long term. Spreading of false information from antiabortion physicians about abortion being a significant danger for both women´s body and mental wellbeing was another way of turning women against abortion, together with narratives published in antiabortion magazines and newspapers. There, an anonymous women confessed to their abortions, leading to great physical suffering from which they were redeemed by becoming Christians. Reading all of this, I couldn´t believe my own eyes even though I should have after reading The Purity Myth (I wrote about it here). Men supporting such movement because of own fear about economic security were in the end getting blamed for increasing violent acts against abortion providers.
CPC centers (crisis pregnancy centers) were (and are) types of nonprofit organization, providing abstinence-only education and consultation for women to upturn their decision about having an abortion. Some of their techniques used on women seeking help were, back in 70’s and 80’s let’s say at least disturbing, if not illegal. Astonishingly, many of these centers had names and advertisements so similar to actual abortion clinics and healthcare providers, that it became unclear who is who, causing a lot of trauma and drama to potential patients. Although CPC centers were not legally accredited to medical examinations and diagnoses, their volunteers were pretending and often lying to women about the stages of their pregnancies, causing many pregnant women ending up keeping the baby against their will. Some clinics had friendly, well-meant approach, while other were projecting traumatizing pictures or movies to convince incoming women against abortion at any cost.
The simple fact of FBI overlooking and somehow apologizing death threats, stalking, bombings arsons and many other acts, is mind blowing. Same as amount of state and federal money invested into conservative sex education programs, while medical authority failed with the first oral contraceptive, which ended up causing serious health consequences and risks for the users. The violent acts have resulted until now in eleven deaths, which is incredibly sad and alarming number. One simply can´t fight for peace with violence.
Women against Abortion: Inside the Largest Moral Reform Movement of the Twentieth Century is a remarkable work on the controversial topic of anti-abortion activism, with excessive amount of references and will be a useful tool for further research.
Note: I received this book in NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.