cover image Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now

Without Apology: The Abortion Struggle Now

Jenny Brown. Verso, $17.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-78873-584-1

In this cogent manifesto, National Women’s Liberation activist Brown (Birth Strike: The Hidden Fight Over Women’s Work) sketches the history of abortion rights in the U.S. and argues that reproductive justice won’t be achieved until feminists break down the stigma surrounding abortion. According to Brown, concerns over a steep decline in the birth rate and corresponding increases in gender equality, not religious or moral objections, laid the groundwork for the 1873 federal statute outlawing abortion (it had been legal in America for the century prior). She sees similar anxieties behind recent attacks on reproductive rights and argues that abortion is less a cultural issue than a “key economic battlefront.” To win the battle, Brown writes, feminists should switch legal strategies from reforming anti-abortion laws to repealing them altogether; follow the examples of the 1969 Redstocking Abortion Speakout and the 2015 #ShoutYourAbortion media campaign by giving people a platform to share their abortion stories without shame; and expose the links between anti-abortion measures and class, gender, and racial inequalities. Not all readers will embrace Brown’s Marxist interpretations, but her call to “move feminism toward bolder, more universal demands” is likely to strike a chord with young progressives. This laser-focused polemic makes its case effectively. (Oct.)