Robin Stevenson on the Fight for Abortion Rights

My Body My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights: Abortion is one of the most common of all medical procedures. But it is still stigmatized, and all too often people do not feel they can talk about their experiences. Making abortion illegal or hard to access doesn’t make it any less common; it just makes it dangerous. Around the world, tens of thousands of women die from unsafe abortions every year.

People who support abortion rights have been fighting hard to create a world in which the right to access safe and legal abortion services is guaranteed. The opposition to this has been intense and sometimes violent, and victories have been hard won. The long fight for abortion rights is being picked up by a new generation of courageous, creative and passionate activists. This book is about the history, and the future, of that fight.

What planning or research did you do for your book?

Oh, so much research! I read books and articles, I watched documentaries and I interviewed people. I spoke with people who have had abortions, with abortion providers and with reproductive rights activists from all over the world.

What excited you about writing on your topic?

I feel really passionate about people’s right to control what happens to their bodies, and their right to access the reproductive health care services they need. I also feel strongly that we need to talk about abortion: It is such a common procedure and something that is a part of so many people’s lives, and yet too often, it isn’t talked about. I think that needs to change.

What’s the best surprise you had in the process of writing this book?

I think the best surprise was how many people were willing to help and even excited to be a part of this. People were incredibly generous with their time and I learned so much from them. They sent me links to resources, introduced me to other activists, shared personal stories, let me use their photographs. I was very moved by how kind and generous so many people were, and the book is so much better because of all their support.

Do you have any unique hobbies or pastimes?

When I am not writing or spending time with my family, my main focus over the last few years has been on refugee advocacy and sponsorship. I am in several groups working to help bring refugees to Canada. If you want to read more about that, or would like to help, there is more information on my website.

What are some of the challenges of writing nonfiction?

I think the biggest challenge is that publishing is a long process—and events in the world keep changing! So as an author, I keep rewriting sections and updating information until the last possible minute.

What is the most rewarding part of writing nonfiction?

I only write non-fiction about topics I care about—so it is an opportunity to dive deeply into a subject I am passionate about. I also find that while writing fiction is, for me, quite solitary, writing non-fiction is all about connecting with people. With both my non-fiction books (My Body My Choice and Pride) I have met so many lovely, smart, interesting and inspiring people who have enriched my learning and my life tremendously.

What types of conversations do you hope will come out of your book?

Abortion is so very common, and yet still carries a stigma. Conversations about abortion can help normalize it as a necessary part of health care, raise awareness of barriers to access, counter myths and misinformation and help combat that stigma. I also hope that my book will help teens learn about the history of the fight for abortion rights—and see the importance of continuing to fight for reproductive justice.

Robin Stevenson is the author of Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community, which won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. She has also written twenty novels for kids and teens. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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