Alabama passed a law on Monday that effectively bans abortion as early as 6 weeks into a pregnancy.
Yesterday, the governor of Alabama signed the bill into law.
This morning, I saw the news: Missouri passed a similar bill right after the governor’s decision.
In both states, no exceptions exist for rape or incest.
28 states are currently considering laws that would ban abortion, according to the BBC.
A year ago, these developments would have encouraged me. I used to believe abortion bans promoted justice and protected God’s beloved.
I don’t believe that now.
I keep watching the country prioritize the unborn over women.
I’m angry that these laws use the guise of justice to silence and control women.
I’m angry about the number of women these laws will affect.
Watching the country turn so quickly on this particular issue has been terrifying.
I want justice over justification.
I wish I could help.
All I have to offer are books (and a few films) I love on the subject.
If you’re looking for unbiased, dispassionate abortion arguments…look, I don’t think those exist.
These resources, though, did much to soften my heart and change my mind.
If the thought of these laws overwhelms you, or if you think of them as positive steps forward, I made a list for you.
General content warning: explicit medical procedures
Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice by Dr. Willie Parker
I used to believe any moral argument concerning abortion would have to conclude that the practice was wrong.
I’d never considered seeking out the perspective of a healthcare provider.
This was the first “pro-choice” book I read out of curiosity.
For any current or former evangelical Christians – yes, this book felt like contraband.
I fully expected someone I knew to catch me buying it.
If you can get over your residual pro-life guilt, this book is a great place to start.
Trust Women: A Progressive Christian Argument for Reproductive Justice by Rebecca Todd Peters
Go back and read that title again.
I had NO IDEA such a perspective existed.
The current culture, as described by Peters, adopts a paternalistic attitude toward women’s choices.
In this environment, unaffected parties treat carrying a pregnancy to term as the natural consequence of having sex.
More understanding and less punishment, please.
Like a Mother: A Feminist Journey Through the Science and Culture of Pregnancy by Angela Garbes
This book’s demystification of pregnancy changed my entire life.
I can’t stop recommending this book to people.
Certain abortion discussions – “Is it a baby? Does it have rights?” – neglect to examine cultural beliefs about pregnant women.
Garbes does her best to untangle some of those attitudes in her book and WOW are they messed up!
Shameless: A Sexual Reformation by Nadia Bolz-Weber
I’d forgotten there was an abortion chapter in this book.
Bolz-Weber is so damn kind.
If the world is Good Will Hunting, she is Robin Williams, diverting blame from women who’ve carried shame with them their entire lives.
Comics for Choice: Illustrated Abortion Stories, History, and Politics edited by Hazel Newlevant and Whit Taylor
(TW: abuse, imprisonment)
If you want you want to know which book tipped the scales for me…this was it.
Those damn personal stories softened me right up.
It’s hard to keep hold of a belief when others are so willing to share their experiences.
I learned so much from this lovely collection.
For instance, I didn’t know trans and non-binary folks pursue abortion services.
It makes sense, of course, but the idea never occurred to me.
Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley
(TW: miscarriage, grief, depression, near-death experience)
This pro-pregnancy read might seem an odd choice, but Knisley packs her book with lots of information and history.
Yes to more pregnancy knowledge.
We all need it.
Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
Good. Pure. Soft. Fun.
If you need a break and your heart is weary, turn to this excellent slice-of-life graphic novel.
You won’t regret it.
Fiction, huh? Yeah, fiction.
I chose books where abortion was part of the story, not the main plot.
As such, a ⚠️ SPOILER WARNING ⚠️ is in order.
Oh, I also chose a series I haven’t read in years and in fact did not like.
Because of its relevance, however, I chose to include it.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
(TW: rape, violence, implied murder, suicide)
Atwood depicts a world where men have complete control over women’s bodies.
Even writing that sentence makes me feel icky.
Penguin Random House just released a graphic novel version of the story – visual readers, rejoice!
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
(TW: homophobia, biphobia, abuse, grief, death, suicide)
Reid frames Evelyn’s abortion as an event in a larger story.
The narrative doesn’t dwell on Evelyn’s choice.
It honestly doesn’t dwell on ANY of Evelyn’s choices.
This book offered a complex, well-written character, a Slytherin if there ever was one.
Exit, Pursued by a Bear by E. K. Johnston
(TW: rape, slut-shaming)
This is a rough read and I’m about to drop a MAJOR spoiler.
After surviving a rape at cheerleading camp, high school senior Hermione learns she’s pregnant.
With the support of her parents, best friend, and cheerleading coach, she pursues an abortion.
The narrative withholds any judgment and puts Hermione in a room with other women who’ve just gone through the procedure.
It’s a lovely moment in a dark book.
And, if I remember correctly, this experience is followed by a conversation with a local pastor who tells Hermione, “I could never judge you.”
I thought this storyline was well-handled.
The Graceling Series by Kristin Cashore
(TW: sexual assault, violence)
I couldn’t resist.
The heroines in this series take various stances on birth control and motherhood.
I find the motivations behind their choices compelling.
Women got reasons, y’all.
Bumped duology by Megan McAfferty
I recommend this duology very reluctantly, as I read it almost 7 years ago at the wise age of 19.
Back then, I found the narrative “preachy.”
I might love it if I revisited it.
Then again, the romances were super problematic, so THERE’S THAT.
(Also, the readers at Goodreads only gave it three stars. VINDICATION!!!!!)
In this series, the value of teen girls is determined by their ability to carry a pregnancy to term.
HMMM, SOUNDS RELEVANT.
(Available on Netflix)
This documentary follows the increasing abortion restrictions in different parts of the country.
Watch this if you like being mad.
(Available on Netflix)
I love almost everything about this show, so WATCH IT for Eric’s storyline if you don’t mind graphic nudity and weird parents.
Maeve seeks an abortion the third episode.
No one tries to talk her out of it.
She reluctantly makes a friend at the clinic.
Said friend reassures Maeve of her worth after the procedure.
It’s hard to watch and it made me cry (THE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE), so ⚠️ TEAR WARNING ⚠️ for all you marshmallows out there.
(Available on Netflix)
While this film already feels dated, it offers nonjudgmental character exploration and a surprising romance.
There’s a pretty bummer breakup in the beginning, so watch out for that.
Also, JENNY SLATE IS GREAT.
Rogue One and/or The Last Jedi
(Both available on Netflix)
NO, THESE FILMS AREN’T ABOUT ABORTION and lots of people die and whiny villains make terrible decisions so, hey, maybe I didn’t think this through…
…a prominent theme of both films is hope.
I feel better whenever I watch them.
I’m angry and my prayers feel useless.
These new laws weigh heavily on me.
I am holding out hope for better things to come.