On June 24, the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, striking down the landmark legal ruling from 1973 that made abortion legal across all states.
Author Robin Stevenson has taken to social media to share the importance of abortion as a human right. “Abortion is health care, and should not be treated differently than any other part of our health care system,” she says.
My Body, My Choice: The Fight for Abortion Rights, written by Stevenson and published in 2019, is about the history—and future—of the fight for abortion rights. Stevenson shared that she began working on My Body, My Choice after the US election in 2016, because she was worried about what a Republican administration under Trump could mean for the future of abortion rights. On Twitter she states, “We knew this was coming—I’ve been expecting it since 2016. I wrote an entire BOOK because I was scared of this day—but it still feels unreal.”
The stigma around abortion can mean that people don’t always talk about their abortions, but as Stevenson highlights, abortion is common, widespread and an essential part of our healthcare system. “When my abortion rights book came out, so many people—from close friends to complete strangers—told me about their abortions and how they’d made their current lives and families possible.”
Abortion rights are under severe threat in the United States, with about half of the country’s states now likely to ban or severely restrict abortion. In some of them, trigger laws have already led to closed clinics and cancelled procedures. But Stevenson reminds us that activists have been fighting for reproductive rights for many years and encourages people to support groups like the National Network of Abortion Funds that are working hard to help people access abortions despite the ever-growing challenges.
Stevenson also took to Twitter to remind Canadians to be vocal about their support of abortion rights, to be vigilant about threats to abortion in Canada, and to support the activists working to ensure that abortion is not just legal, but also accessible—like the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. And as doctors in the US grapple with how to care for their patients in light of the new legal landscape, she points out that Canadian doctors played a key historical role in the fight for abortion rights. Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Polish-born Canadian physician and Holocaust survivor, is the best known. “He performed abortions illegally—and served time—but juries repeatedly refused to convict. His Supreme Court case led to Canada’s abortion law being struck down in 1988.” In addition to Morgentaler, Stevenson shares other heroes. “Nikki Colodny, Leslie Smoling, Robert Scott were also charged. They kept doing abortions, using civil disobedience to change the law. Absolute heroes.”
For Stevenson, one of the highlights of researching and writing My Body, My Choice was the opportunity to speak with so many inspiring activists, from those who fought in the 70s to people joining the movement in more recent years. That’s also something that helps her to stay more hopeful about the future during this very difficult time. As she says, “All I can think to say is that the people I’ve met who fight for abortion are smart, determined, and they’re not going to quit.”
★“Required reading for teens of every gender.”
—Booklist, starred review
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.
About the Author
Robin Stevenson is the author of more than 25 books for kids and teens, including Pride Puppy!, Pride Colors and Kid Activists: True Tales of Childhood from Champions of Change. The first edition of her nonfiction book Pride: Celebrating Diversity & Community (2016) won a Stonewall Honor and was shortlisted for numerous other awards. Robin lives in Victoria, British Columbia.
Follow Robin on Twitter: @robin_stevenson