With all of the misinformation about reproductive health being tossed around in today’s national political environment, it’s crucial to be well informed about both the facts and the history of reproductive health. Now more than ever, we should understand the 1973 Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade, how the reproductive rights movement has changed since then, and what the future may hold for access to safe and legal abortion. If you want to learn more about reproductive health and rights in the United States, here are some resources:
- Our Bodies Ourselves
This book, which is really more of an encyclopedia, provides everything you need to know about reproductive health. Since 1970, Our Bodies Ourselves has been updated and refined every few years to include the most relevant, factual, and comprehensive information on how your body works. With chapters ranging from breast cancer to gender identity and vaginal orgasms to birth control methods, Our Bodies Ourselves is perhaps the best starting point for learning more about your body and health.
- “MAKERS: Women Who Make America”
Narrated by Meryl Streep, this documentary offers a brief but insightful history of women’s rights in America. The film includes many different aspects of the struggle for reproductive rights, including the stories of women who fled the country in search of safe and legal abortions before Roe, those who died attempting self-induced abortions, and the stories of the attorneys who argued before the U.S. Supreme Court to make abortion legal. “Women Who Make America” is an excellent resource for learning about reproductive rights.
- Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, by Dr. Willie Parker
In this personal account, Dr. Willie Parker provides his readers with thoughtful and eye-opening insight into what it’s like to be a Christian abortion provider in the Deep South. Dr. Parker shares his personal and religious journey that led him to become an abortion provider, not in spite of his faith, but because of it. In addition to sharing on-the ground stories of being an abortion provider, Dr. Parker explains how state-level politics play a role in abortion access, and the real-life impact anti-abortion policies have on women. Dr. Parker’s firsthand accounts of being called to action, providing care, and fighting against the injustices faced by providers and patients around the country show why it’s more important than ever that we all stand up for access to safe and legal abortion.
Also set in the Deep South, Trapped is a terrific documentary following the work and lives of abortion providers and clinic owners. The title of this film is a reference to the politically motivated laws designed to limit access to safe, legal abortion called TRAP laws (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers). TRAP laws place medically unnecessary restrictions and requirements on abortion facilities. These laws do not apply to other facilities providing outpatient procedures and are implemented with the sole purpose of making it difficult, if not impossible, for abortion clinics to remain open. In 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled TRAP laws unconstitutional because they create an undue burden on access to care. Despite this victory, the long-lasting impact of TRAP laws remains. Between 2013 and 2014 , TRAP laws in Texas forced so many abortion clinics to close that the number of women living more than 100 miles from an abortion clinic tripled. Trapped is a must-watch documentary for anyone who wants to better understand tactics of the anti-abortion extremists.