The Supreme Court’s 6-3 vote to overturn Roe v. Wade continues to impact the entire book industry, and faith-based publishers are no exception. The June 24 ruling, which effectively leaves the legality of abortion to individual states, has intensified national debates about reproductive rights, and religion houses are responding by promoting backlist titles that address abortion from both sides of the issue. Additionally, many publishers in the category are actively looking for new books related to abortion.
“The battle is not won on the pro-life side or the pro-choice side. It’s just beginning,” says Tom Spence, president and publisher of Regnery. The conservative publishing house anticipated SCOTUS’s ruling after Justice Alito’s opinion leaked in May, and it released Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing by Ryan T. Anderson and Alexandra DeSanctis on June 28.
“The idea of this book is that the abortion debate has now changed in dramatic way,” Spence says. “Roe v. Wade was all or nothing. Now every state can look at different policies and regulate abortion some, not at all, or very much. Policies around abortion are open to debate, and people on both sides are going to have to pay attention.”
While Tearing Us Apart wasn’t published under Regnery’s religion imprint, Salem Books, the authors are both Catholic, and it “could easily be found on bookshelves at Christian stores,” says Spence.
Also responding to the SCOTUS decision to overturn Roe, Crossway is giving away electronic copies of The Case for Life by Scott Klusendorf (2009), and a second edition of the book is slated for release in March 2023. Additionally, the press is publishing The Story of Abortion in America: A Street-Level History, 1652–2022 by Marvin Olasky and Leah Savas on Jan. 3, and an article by the authors appeared on Crossway’s blog on June 25.
At Ignatius, sales have increased for backlist titles including Architects of the Culture of Death by Donald DeMarco and Ben Wiker (2004); Black and Pro-Life in America by Robert Artigo (2018); and The Walls are Talking by Abby Johnson (2016), among others, according to marketing director Anthony J. Ryan. And in October, Ignatius will publish Two Patients: My Conversion from Abortion to Life-Affirming Medicine by Dr. John Bruchalski, who “shows us, and all doctors, how merciful and compassionate the relationship between a doctor and his two patients—mother and child—is truly meant to be,” Ryan says.
Backlists are booming
Post-Roe, several religion houses are experiencing an uptick in sales for backlist titles about abortion. Family-owned publisher Eerdmans reports increased sales of Bad Faith: Race and the Rise of the Religious Right by Randall Balmer (2021). The book debunks what the author calls a commonly held belief that American evangelicals unified and entered the political arena in response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade in 1973.
In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision, sales are up for Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics, and Justice by Kira Schlesinger (2017), according to publisher Westminster John Knox. The press is ensuring that the book is in stock while also heavily promoting it through e-blasts, social media, and advertising on Amazon, according to Alicia Samuels, v-p of marketing.
Following the reversal of Roe v. Wade, readers may soon be able to find an array of new titles from religion publishers that touch on the issue of abortion. Regnery’s Spence says he is watching both the sales performance of Tearing Us Apart and how the abortion debate develops. “We might be more open to books on that topic than before,” he says.
Ron Beers, chief publishing officer of Tyndale House, says the press “is looking to publish new books that sensitively discuss what it means to be pro-life by supporting the humanity and well-being of both pre-born babies and vulnerable women” in response to the recent Supreme Court decision. NavPress, however, is not factoring in Roe’s reversal when it comes to its publishing program, says publisher David Zimmerman.
David C Cook, which is currently promoting Unplanned Grace: A Compassionate Conversation on Life and Choice by Brittany Smith and Natasha Smith (2021), works to provide readers and the church with Christ-centered resources, says Chadd Miller, executive v-p of the publisher’s learning resources group. “We will continue acquiring, creating, and publishing relevant, biblical content that gives Christians the resources they need to navigate today’s conversations with grace and truth,” he tells PW.
WJK will continue to publish titles “that help people consider a variety of contemporary issues through a progressive theological lens,” says Samuels. "WJK is always looking for books to help readers discern theologically, faithfully, and practically how to care for their reproductive health and to advocate for justice and support for all birthing people and their families," she adds. And while it’s not specifically about abortion, Samuels points to a forthcoming title, Elusive Grace: Loving Your Enemies While Striving for God’s Justice by Scott Black Johnston (Sept. 20), as being relevant to readers who are considering “how to engage others who may disagree on this and other issues as they continue to pursue justice.”
Find more titles related to faith and abortion below.
A Complicated Choice: Making Space for Grief and Healing in the Pro-Choice Movement by Katey Zeh (Broadleaf, 2022)
If God Is Love, Don’t Be a Jerk: Finding a Faith that Makes Us Better Humans by John Pavlovitz (WJK, 2021)
Fighting for Life: Becoming a Force for Change in a Wounded World by Lila Rose (Thomas Nelson, 2022)
Help Her Be Brave: Discover Your Place in the Pro-Life Movement by Amy Ford (Moody, 2021)
Survivor: An Abortion Survivor's Surprising Story of Choosing Forgiveness and Finding Redemption by Claire Culwell (WaterBrook, 2021)
Unexpected Choice: An Abortion Doctor’s Journey to Pro-Life by Patti Giebink (Focus on the Family, 2021)