I’ve been a Katha Pollitt fan ever since I discovered her columns in The Nation magazine several years ago. I always found her take on feminism, politics and assorted social issues to be eye-opening and thought-provoking. And I always appreciated her smart, down-to-earth and humorous writing style. Now she’s bringing all of this (and more) with her latest book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know abortion is one of the most controversial issues in our country, especially since Roe v. Wade was made into law 1973. Those who call themselves pro-life are doing everything in their power to overturn Roe v. Wade. Even some people who call themselves pro-choice consider abortion to be a tragic choice and one that should only be used as a last resort.
In Pro: Reclaiming Abortion rights, Pollitt claims that if women want to be able to control their lives in the ways they see fit, then they must fully be able to control their reproductive rights. Women must be able to make decisions of when and if they become mothers. Access to abortion and various forms of birth control are a part of making sure women are fully-actualized human beings.
Pro is divided into several well-written and sharply focused chapters. These chapters include reclaiming abortion, finding out what Americans think of abortion, asking “what is a person” and “are women people.” In one chapter Pollitt delves into the six myths of abortion, which include the crazy ideas that women are coerced into having abortions and opponents of abortion would never punish women. In another chapter, Pollitt tells us when it comes to abortion, it’s not necessarily abortion the pro-lifers oppose (spoiler alert: it’s women living their lives by their own standards, ideas, dreams and ambitions). In another chapter Pollitt asks if there can be a compromise on abortion and on another chapter behooves us to reframe motherhood.
Abortion has always been around, long before Roe V Wade. Since the beginning of time women have sought ways to control their fertility. And abortion won’t go away if Roe V. Wade is overturned. However, anti-abortion zealots have done a very good job in stripping away women’s reproductive rights from the closing of clinics to calling women seeking out reproductive control options “sluts” and “prostitutes” to abstinence-only sex education.
Needless, to say, a lot of reproductive rights activists and supporters are disgusted by the pro-life zealots framing the abortion debate. But Pollitt also calls out the pro-choice movement for not standing up to these zealots as effectively as they should. Fortunately, Pro lays out ways the pro-choice crowd can drown out these zealots and ensure women maintain their reproductive rights by focusing on what can happen when women can’t decide when and if they will give birth. These ramifications can affect a women’s whole life, personally and professionally.
Pro is filled with detailed information, and Pollitt includes a list of over 20 books for additional reading on women’s reproductive rights. She also provides interesting personal stories that help frame her ideas and opinions on the abortion debate that are definitely food for thought. Granted Pro might not change any minds when it comes to those on the extreme right when it comes to reproductive rights. And when it comes to the pro-choice crowd, Pro is definitely preaching to the choir, Perhaps, Pro is best to be read by those in the middle who always want to frame abortion as an option that should remain legal but is always one that is clouded in shame and an agonizing choice for most women, when in reality, it may be the easiest choice.