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Posted on: December 31, 2022

A Woman's Life is a Human Life

A Womans Life is a Human Life

Published to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade, this urgent book from historian Felicia Kornbluh reveals two movement victories in New York that forever changed the politics of reproductive rights nationally. Before there was a "Jane Roe," the most important champions of reproductive rights were ordinary people working in their local communities. In A Woman's Life Is a Human Life, historian Felicia Kornbluh delivers the untold story of everyday activists who defined those rights and achieved them, in the years immediately before and after Roe v. Wade made abortion legal under federal law. A Woman's Life Is a Human Life is the story of two movements in New York that transformed the politics of reproductive rights: the fight to decriminalize abortion and the fight against sterilization abuse, which happened disproportionately in communities of color and was central to an activism that was about the right to bear children, as well as not to. Each initiative won key victories that relied on people power and not on the federal courts. Their histories cast new light on Roe and constitutional rights, on the difficulty and importance of achieving a truly inclusive feminism, and on reproductive politics today. This is a book full of drama. From dissident Democrats who were the first to try reforming abortion laws and members of a rising feminist movement who refashioned them, to the nation's largest abortion referral service established by progressive Christian and Jewish clergy, to Puerto Rican activists who demanded community accountability in healthcare and introduced sterilization abuse to the movement's agenda, and Black women who took the cause global, A Woman's Life Is a Human Life documents the diverse ways activists changed the law and worked to create a world that would support all people's reproductive choices. The first in-depth study of a winning campaign against a state's abortion law and the first to chronicle the sterilization abuse fight side-by-side with the one for abortion rights, A Woman's Life Is a Human Life is rich with firsthand accounts and previously unseen sources--including those from Kornbluh's mother, who wrote the first draft of New York's law decriminalizing abortion, and their across-the-hall neighbor, Dr. Helen Rodríguez-Trías, a Puerto Rican doctor who co-founded the movement against sterilization abuse. In this dynamic, surprising, and highly readable history, Felicia Kornbluh corrects the record to show how grassroots action overcame the odds to create policy change--and how it might work today.

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